The Emirates Group, the parent company of Emirates airline, has renewed its agreement with Dubai Municipality for the management of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) to protect wildlife and natural habitats.

The reserve, also known as Al Maha, is the UAE’s first national park, spanning an area of 225 square kilometres, which is roughly five per cent of the total land area of Dubai.

The Group has been funding and handling full operations of the conservation reserve for over 20 years. It has invested more than Dh28 million in the reserve since its establishment in 2002, to fund and support the conservation of the natural desert landscape and its indigenous fauna and flora. The protected inland desert habitat is currently home to over 560 different species of plants and trees, birds, mammals, reptiles and arthropods - more than double the original 150 indigenous species which thrived in the area prior to DDCR’s efforts.

The reserve has been immensely successful in growing the population of sand gazelles, Arabian gazelles and the Arabian onyx, from 230 initially to over 1,300 today. A further 171 Arabian Oryx have been relocated to other protected areas in the UAE. Also amongst its other milestone achievements is the re-introduction of 2,800 Houbara, or Macqueen’s Bustard.

In excess of 31,000 native trees flourish in the vast area, which include the Ghaf tree, native to the desert and known for its ability to survive its extreme climate conditions without irrigation.

“Since the establishment of DDCR in 2002, the Emirates Group has supported this important initiative by operating the reserve and managing its vast facilities on behalf of the Government of Dubai. The UAE has declared 2023 the ‘Year of Sustainability’, and we are proud to continue playing a role in achieving the nation’s sustainability goals,” said Ali Mubarak Al Soori, executive vice president for facilities, projects management and group procurement and supply chain.

Engineer Alya Abdulrahim Alharmoudi, acting CEO for the environment, health and safety agency at Dubai Municipality, said this collaboration to preserve and manage the conservation reserve demonstrates the significant role of public-private partnerships in promoting the sustainable development of natural reserves.

“We are committed to fostering sustainability in the natural and desert reserves by carrying out research operational plans and studies. This will contribute to conserving their ecological diversities in a sustainable manner and highlight their relevance as significant tourist attractions for wildlife and desert safaris," she said.

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