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Natural UAE


The isolated mountain of Jebel Hafit lies immediately to the south of the cityof Al Ain. Its imposing whaleback appearance is instantly recognisable even at a considerable distance, standing proudly almost 1000m higher than the surrounding desert floor. 1300m at the summit, it is Abu Dhabi's highest mountain.

The British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger who visited the area in the late 1940s, reported striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), Arabian tahr (Hemitragus jayakari) and Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus) on the mountain. Of these, only the Arabian tahr possibly survives, with an unconfirmed sighting of a single animal coming as recently as 1997.

Close by the foot of Jebel Hafit lies Ayn al-Faydah. This is an area of wetland, modified and maintained by human activity, but which provides a refreshing change from the otherwise mainly arid rocky local scenery. Dragonflies are ubiquitous here, while a number of restricted range beetle and moth species have been discovered locally.

On the outskirts of Al Ain lies the camel racetrack, with the centre of the circuit given over to fodder production. Flocks of migrant white storks (Ciconia ciconia) regularly break their lengthy migration to feed, usefully, on grasshoppers and related species which would otherwise consume much of the grass intended as camel and livestock feed.

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