Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve will be adding new features next year, such as the Desert Visitor Centre. Image Credit: Emirates

Dubai: A total of 283,303 visitors went through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) in 2019, with Arabian Adventures providing the bulk of these.

The reserve, which covers 225 square kilometers and makes up 5 per cent of Dubai’s land area, is teeming with wildlife, including the Arabian Oryx and gazelle. A small portion of the protected area is allotted to tourism activity.

Emirates airline had invested Dh8 million in the park over the last five years, and Dh28 million in total since its establishment.

“The DDCR provides a balance to Dubai's growth and rapid urbanization, ensuring the conservation of our desert areas and unique wildlife,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Group CEO, in a statement.

The reserve also boasts of a Hollywood connection. Actor Harrison Ford, famed for playing Indiana Jones and Han Solo from the Star Wars series, toured the national park last year.

The celebrity was joined by Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan on his trip.

Last year, DDCR continued to work with experts on projects that track, protect and reintroduce indigenous species to the UAE, it said.

The reserve plans to attract more visitors with the addition of the Desert Visitor Centre, which is set to open in late 2021. The initiative will provide an educational programme for visitors, connect them with the desert and the environment, and garner support for conservation.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the park was closed to visitors from mid-March. It reopened three months later with safety measure in place.