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UAE destinations that will rekindle your relationship with nature

From colourful flowers in bloom to close encounters with creatures and rugged hikes, the UAE offers plenty of ways to help get you back in touch with your wild side

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More than 65 million flowers are arranged in 2D and 3D designs at the Dubai Miracle Garden
GN Focus

Safari at Al Ain Zoo, Abu Dhabi

Always wanted to go on an African safari but couldn’t make it? Head to the next best thing — the world’s largest man-made safari park at Al Ain Zoo. Spread over 217 hectares, the Al Ain safari park is home to more than 250 Arabian and African animals. Keep your eyes peeled for antelopes and gazelles as well as meerkats, crowned cranes, ostriches, giraffes, zebras, rhinos and lions. Catch a glimpse of the animals in their natural habitat from the comfort of a private SUV for Dh1,000, or opt for a safari in a truck with 22 seats, with each up for grabs for Dh200 but children under five are not allowed. A zoo visit is part of both the packages. Tours start at 9am. Call 800 966 to book seats. For more details, visit

Dubai Miracle Garden

“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful,” said famous horticulturist Luther Burbank. Find out for yourself if that’s true at Dubai Miracle Garden, where more than 65 million flowers make up a mesmerising world of cute little cottages, stunning sculptures and dazzling designs. With 60 varieties of plants in bloom arranged in 2D and 3D shapes, it’s a great escape from the concrete jungle and the perfect setting for a selfie. You can also see the world’s largest flower arrangement or structure in the shape of an Airbus A380, which is listed in Guinness World Records. Tickets can only be bought at the counters at the garden with entry costing Dh40 for adults and Dh30 for children under 12 — those under three get in free. The garden is open until May 31 from 9am to 11pm on weekends. Call 04 422 8902 or check out for more information.

City Hiking at Hatta, Dubai

Don’t fancy being a passive spectator? Set out on a road trip to Hatta and be one of the firsts to explore the newly established City Hiking trail, part of the Hatta Hiking project. Extending nine kilometres, the trail connects attractions such as the Hatta Heritage Village and Hatta Kayak and ends at Hatta Dam. With a 3km flatland hike and three mountain hiking trails, the project claims to have something for everyone, including the novice and the disabled.

The Butterfly House on Al Noor Island in Sharjah

Spend a leisurely afternoon with 500-odd exotic butterflies at Al Noor Island’s main attraction, the Butterfly House. With a decorative shadow roof and biomorphic exterior, it’s as much an architectural delight as it’s a conservation effort. Home to 22 species, the house mirrors their natural habitat, allowing butterflies to continue their normal life cycle. Admission to Al Noor Island, an ambitious architectural project in Khalid Lagoon that allows for greater interaction between people and nature, costs Dh50, Dh30 for children under 12 while those under three go free. The Butterfly House is open 9am-6pm. Visit

Snorkelling in Fujairah

Want to get up-close with the marine life in the UAE? Fujairah, on the east coast of the country, offers some of the best spots for snorkelling such as Dibba Rock, Martini Rock and Sharm Rocks. In the shallow waters off Dibba Rock, you will come across colourful fish such as sergeant major and clown fish, turtles and black-tip sharks. If you’re lucky, you may also chance upon the whale sharks who visit the reefs in spring to munch on the widely available plankton. For Dh150, you can explore a site with Al Boom Diving, which offers full snorkelling equipment. Call 04 342 2993 or visit for more details.

Al Wadi Nature Reserve in Ras Al Khaimah

Indulge in a host of activities at the Al Wadi Nature Reserve in Wadi Khadeja. Explore the reserve on a horse (Dh180), try your hand at archery at its open-air range (Dh132; children: Dh110) or go for a spot of catch-and-release fishing at a man-made watering hole. In the afternoon, watch birds of prey at the falconry deck (Dh85). At night, stargaze from a platform at the centre of the reserve and take a walk on the dunes if you’re keen on spotting the nocturnal creatures that roam the desert (Dh248; children: Dh165). Check out