Frame from Obaid Rashid Al Mazroui's TV interview Image Credit: Screengrab

Dubai: For UAE citizen Obaid Rashid Al Mazroui, the cactus is not just a desert plant. It is an obsession. 

Fueled by his passion for this plant, Al Mazroui has travelled to most countries and deserts in the world and spent a fortune in an effort to find and bring different types of cactus plants to the UAE.

Al Mazroui, dubbed the King of Cactus, today owns the largest cactus farm in the UAE and probably in the Gulf. His farm is home to more than 5,000 plants of more than 1,000 different species of cacti.

Rare collection

“I developed this hobby more than 15 years ago. I visited most countries in the world looking for new varieties of this plant, and today I have more than 5,000 cacti. I believe that no one in the Gulf owns such a farm,” Al Mazruoi said in an interview with Emarat TV.

Al Mazroui during his interview Image Credit: Screengrab

“This is not just a farm, but rather a garden and a reference for botanical researchers from the UAE and the Gulf. It is very important for us to have such a farm in the UAE, and I’m very proud of what I have achieved so far. About 90 per cent of my farm’s plants are not available on the market,” Al Mazroui added.

Screenshot from his TV interview showing some of the cacti Image Credit: Screengrab

Now open

Located in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, the farm is now open to visitors, tourists, students, and all lovers of cactus.

Al Mazroui hopes that his farm will be converted into an integrated nature reserve and a national medical and scientific reference for research.

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What are Cacti?

Cacti generally have thick herbaceous or woody chlorophyll-containing stems. Cacti can be distinguished from other succulent plants by the presence of areoles, small cushionlike structures with trichomes (plant hairs) and, in almost all species, spines or barbed bristles (glochids). Areoles are modified branches, from which flowers, more branches, and leaves (when present) may grow.

There are about 2,000 different types of cactuses found in the world. Some are thin and very tall, and others are short and round like a ball - a very spikey ball. There are even cacti that look like bushes and some that look like ping pong paddles.

Although slow-growing, a cactus plant is fairly self-sustaining as it stores moisture in its roots, leaves and stems, and so largely regulates its own food intake. A cactus plant likes a light, airy and warm spot – but not too hot – and can cope well in direct sunlight.