Dubai, Paris: Wadi Wurayah in Fujairah has been designated a ‘Biosphere Reserve’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
On its official Twitter account, Unesco announced on Wednesday that the Fujairah nature spot won the prestigious accolade.
The designation is awarded for protected areas that demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature and promote sustainable development.
The site is one of 24 natural spots that won the coveted status, official news agency WAM reported.
Located in the emirate of Fujairah, the site consists of a water catchment area in an arid climate that is part of the Hajar mountain range. It hosts a rich fauna and flora endemic to the Arabian Peninsula and is one of the last Emirati places where traditional farming practices are still maintained.
The wadi is home to 81 bird species, 20 mammal species, at least nine reptile and amphibian species and 467 invertebrates.
Some of the rarest animals in the world roam freely at Wadi Wurayah, including the Blanford’s fox, Arabian leopards, mountain gazelles and caracals. The area’s luminous waterfalls, amazing rock formations and unusual wildlife make it a haven for geologists.
In a statement on Thursday, Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said Unesco’s inclusion of Wadi Wurayah is a prestigious accolade awarded to the UAE’s leadership that has placed environmental protection on a par with human and economic development, positioning the country on the global map as a leader in sustaining and preserving the environment.
Dr Al Zeyoudi added: “Our commitment to nature commenced with the founding father of the UAE, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who gave time, effort and resources to caring for this country’s magnificent environment. He shaped the path we continue to take till this day in preserving the natural beauty of the UAE.”
Dr Al Zeyoudi noted that assigning Wadi Wurayah as a Biosphere Reserve is a recognition of its unique characteristics as a natural wonder of the UAE. Wadi Wurayah is the second protected area in the UAE to receive this recognition after Marawah Marine Protected Area.
He emphasised that the country’s leadership is working to position the UAE as a leading global ecotourism hub, as it possesses all key elements to become an ecotourism destination of choice.
Located within the Hajar mountain range in Fujairah, Wadi Wurayah was declared the first Mountain Protected Area in the UAE.