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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

UAE's ecotourism sites on show in new app

The app by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is phase one of the National Ecotourism Project

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, launches the Ecotourism UAE app in Ras Al Khaimah on Saturday. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, launches the Ecotourism UAE app in Ras Al Khaimah on Saturday. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The UAE has carried out the first phase of an ecotourism drive that hopes to attract visitors from around the world to the country’s natural wonders.

On Saturday, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment launched a free e-book and app that features an interactive map with images and videos compiled from 700 hours of footage shot on land, air and underwater.

The app and an e-book are part of the Ministry’s National Ecotourism Project designed to raise awareness of the UAE’s stunning landscapes and wildlife that is uniquely adopted to one of the planet’s most extreme climates.

The app provides images and videos from 35 of the UAE’s 43 protected areas, including mangroves, dunes and lush wadis. It features two reserves from Abu Dhabi and Ajman, five from Fujairah, 11 from Sharjah and 15 from Abu Dhabi.

Reserves range in size from the 80,000 sq m Dhadna underwater reserve in Fujairah to the 6,000 square kilometre Arabian Oryx Protected Area east of Liwa, Abu Dhabi, that is home to 835 oryx.

“Through our work at the Ministry, the country has established a comprehensive legal framework that ensures conservation of the environment and sustainability of natural resources,” Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said in a statement on the launch of the app. “The National Ecotourism Project aspires to promote the UAE’s environmental attractions to the local and international audience with the objective of establishing the UAE as one of the leading ecotourism destinations in the world within the next few years.”

Mr Al Zeyoudi expects the programme will encourage both the protection of biodiversity and highlight the economic benefits of sustainable tourism.

Many listed sites are free to the public while others require government permission. Each listing has visiting hours for the public and schools or details on the authority to contact to arrange a visit.

The app also includes a challenging quiz on UAE geographic, flora and fauna.

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The e-book can be downloaded at the ministry website.

The launch was in the town of Al Rams, Ras Al Khaimah on Saturday at an event attended by tourism stakeholders. Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain are the only emirates that do not feature on the app.

The project will promote ecotourism attractions in three phases. The next phase will be the compilation of resources on natural sites outside of formal reserves.

The app was initially scheduled to launch at the end of August.