UAE desert camping season has arrived, allowing visitors to connect with this other-worldly landscape and enjoy the star-studded skies. However, while enjoying the desert, residents must be aware of and adhere to certain regulations to ensure a coexistence with the ecosystem.
"Leaving behind trash is a major problem and a big mistake that should be avoided as responsible campers. I always say this: take back memories and dump our trash - leave no trace behind," said Haniel Jeiel Calma.
The avid camper, who has been living in the UAE for 10 years, added, "When camping, our commitment extends beyond our immediate surroundings; if we come across any litter, let's make an effort to clean up as much as possible."
The seven emirates have established designated locations for camping, recreational activities, dunes bashing, specifically designed to cater to the public's need for fun and excitement. Every winter, authorities make it their top priority to ensure residents enjoy the endless golden dunes responsibly without jeopardising their safety or the safety of others.
Cheeryllee Fronteras, a Filipino living in Sharjah, said, "We always camp in areas where authorities allow us to pitch our tents."
Camping is banned on beaches in Ras Al Khaimah. According to the RAK civic body, beachgoers who set up camp distort the general appearance and hinder others from enjoying the public space.
In Sharjah, entry and camping in protected areas are strictly prohibited. The Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) emphasised to Khaleej Times that those who violate these regulations will face hefty fines.
Cheeryllee added, "Some behaviours we find problematic among fellow campers include the lack of respect for quiet hours, with some individuals playing loud sounds until as late as 2am. Even more concerning is when campers not only leave their garbage behind but also scatter it, impacting the environment."
Campers often lack awareness of the rules, leading in unintentional violations and subsequent penalties. To steer clear of fines, it's essential to adhere to the following list of rules:
- Dh2,000: For littering in Sharjah; Dh500 in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah for the same
- Dh2,000: For camping in unauthorised areas in both Sharjah and Fujairah
- Dh2,000: For lighting bonfire on ground; Dh500 in RAK - Jabel Jais, for the same
- Dh2,000: Cooking on ground
- Dh2,000: For oil spills from vehicles in the wilderness
- Dh500: For barbecuing and grilling at undesignated places like beaches, green areas and parks.
- Dh10,000: Causing ecological damages, like removing grass, cutting trees or removing sand from an area
- Dh5,000: For entering protected areas
- Dh15,000: For hunting inside a protected area
- Dh1,000: For parking wrongfully and violating traffic rules (RAK - Jebel Jais)
Several camping site in the country have clear signboards with instructions indicating the do's and don'ts.
What are the do’s and don'ts
- Avoid damaging plants or using them to light fire
- Do not feed fishes and birds in waterbodies, like Al Qudra Lakes
- Do not swim in water bodies, like Love Lake and Expo Lake
- Do not throw garbage in the desert
- Playing loud music is not allowed
- Bring garbage bags allowed
- Maintain public order
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