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Natural UAE


At Umm al-Zumul in south-east Abu Dhabi the UAE meets at a single point with the borders of both Oman and Saudi Arabia. Historically a sweet-water well formed, quite naturally, a focal point here, although access to its waters would have been 'controlled' by a single local tribe. The area remains populated only at low density with most human activity restricted to camel farming and related occupations.

The landscape is dominated by high linear dunes separated by flat east-west running gritty plains almost completely clear of blown sand. Vegetation is sparse at best, with some areas completely devoid of any greenery. Sabkha (saltflats) occurs as patches locally, although sometimes cover several square kilometres. Calligonum comosum is the only perennial plant of any height, occasionally reaching three metres, and most often growing on the false crest of a high dune.

Despite the paucity of vegetation, there is much interesting wildlife. The ratel or honey badger (Mellivora capensis) is suspected of occurring, while certainly there are sand gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa), Ruppell’s fox (Vulpes rueppellii) and sand cat (Felis margarita). Brown-necked raven (Corvus ruficollis) is a characteristic bird overhead, while at dawn the unmistakable song of the equally unmistakable hoopoe lark (Alaemon alaudipes) is one of the few natural sounds to be heard.

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