UAE launches major project to be global ecotourism hub

MOCCAE’s National Ecotourism Project aims to make the United Arab Emirates a major global ecotourism hub.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) in the UAE has unveiled its National Ecotourism Project.  The aim is to shine a light on the country’s ‘natural wonders’, and capitalise on the growing trend for global ecotourism.

While the project is clearly a tourism drive, it is also focused on preserving protected areas of the UAE.

MOCCAE is launching a microsite and app which pinpoint various prime ecotourism destinations.  These include Abu Dhabi’s Mangrove Park; Dubai’s Al Marmoum Reserve; Fujairah’s Wadi Wurayah National Park; Sharjah’s Sir Bo Na’air protected area; and Ajman’s Al Zorah Natural Reserve.

“The National Ecotourism Project is a result of the country’s commitment to preserving the environment,” said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment. “Over the past few years, the pioneering vision and directives of the UAE leadership have enabled the country to consolidate its leading global status across diverse sectors, with travel and tourism at the forefront.”

He is confident that the UAE can make the most of the ecotourism trend, pointing out that the UAE has 43 protected areas.  This makes up 14 per cent of the territory, much higher than the ratio for the Earth in general (which stands at five per cent of the total territory).

The project has three phases, focusing on environmental, economic and social factors.

Dr Al Zeyoudi said that the website and app aims to raise awareness of the protected areas, both at home and abroad.  It also hopes to encourage travel agencies to include the sites in UAE packages. “The portal and app will serve as an information and visual resource that UAE embassies across the globe and national airlines can use to introduce these attractions to the world,” he said.

He also announced that the UAE will work alongside stakeholders in other sectors across the country. “For the project to become fully-fledged, the UAE seeks to leverage the fast-paced development witnessed in all sectors, particularly in the sustainable tourism domain that includes eco-friendly flights, hotels, beaches and campsites,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi.

He stressed the ecological and economic benefits of this form of tourism, saying that ecotourism promotes sustainable local agriculture and combats desertification while also contributing to GDP.

Image and video courtesy of Baharash Architecture.

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