Experts and crew lived on the island for weeks to capture footage up to 1,000 hours Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Sir Bu Nair Island, the picturesque Sharjah enclave known for its natural splendour and rich ecological treasures, continues to whet the scientific curiosity of environmental researchers and explorers. Now, Sharjah TV has trained the spotlight on the island, known for its pristine beaches, mountains, rich flora and fauna and the purity of deep blue waters surrounding it in a four-part documentary titled ‘Sir Bu Nair – Nature Sanctuary’ that will be broadcast at 9.15pm from May 14 to 17.

The Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (Sharjah TV and Radio) has joined hands with the Sharjah Government Media Bureau and the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) to produce a “first-of-its-kind” documentary that reveals the secrets of a unique nature reserve that had been formally promulgated 20 years ago through an Emiri decree by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

The environmentally-protected island and natural reserve is located at a strategic geographical location and has enjoyed historical importance because of its rich geological formations, natural plants, coral reefs, animal life including rare birds and reptiles. Most notably, the island has been a safe haven and breeding ground for endangered hawksbill turtles for ages.

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Environmental vision

The Sir Bu Nair documentary has been inspired by the environmental vision of the emirate of Sharjah and has been produced using “highest professional excellence, world-class technology and equipment”.

The documentary project involved a full year of tracking the environment and life cycle of organisms on the Sir Bu Nair Island, in its sea and interviewing leading specialists and marine biology experts. Technical professionals lived on the island for weeks to capture the life on the island and its various inhabitants to acquire footage up to 1,000 hours.

The documentary also follows the 'adventures' of scientific researchers who observed creatures of the island Image Credit: Supplied

Global experts, filmmakers on board

More than 60 people worked liked a team to produce the documentary. Mohamed Hassan Khalaf, Director-General of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, is the executive producer of the film and Britain’s John Martin directed it. The documentary has been produced by Ashraf Ali and Tony Dejan while the shots were artistically created by directors of photography Michael O’Donovan and Ross Bartley. Underwater photography was handled by Kevin Smith.

The documentary, coinciding with the annual Sir Bu Nair Festival aimed at promoting the rich biodiversity of the marine environment in the emirate, highlights the historical standing of the island in the past and the present. The island boasts rich and diverse ecological environment and is one of the most important marine reserves in the UAE.

The documentary is a landmark initiative by the Sharjah Broadcasting Authority and the SGMB, in cooperation with Jet Go Films Limited.

The island is a protected sanctuary by law Image Credit: Supplied

The SBA Director-General said that after the “remarkable success” achieved by the partnership between the Authority and the SGMB to produce the documentary, Sharjah Safari, which won a number of international awards, the challenge was greater.

Khalaf added: “We wanted to continue the journey with a quality that competes with the best of global players. The documentary stems from the Authority’s mission to highlight Sharjah’s leadership in various sectors of development, and its leading role in the areas of environmental sustainability and scientific research, underscoring its position as an ideal eco-tourism destination and a laboratory for specialised research in protecting rare living organisms and species. The documentary ‘Sir Bu Nair Island - Nature Sanctuary’ will achieve the mission and objectives of the Authority and Sharjah.”

Scientific adventures

The documentary is in line with the vision of the emirate of Sharjah in protecting its environment and biodiversity, he added. “Drone aerial shots and ground shots taken with the most advanced cameras offer a most accurate view and virtual experience of the island. Underwater cameras were used to photograph life in the depths of the sea, and we also resorted to using a water drone to obtain distinctive underwater clips,” he pointed out.

The Sir Bu Nair documentary is based on adventures of scientific researchers who observe turtles, gulls, reptiles, fish, coral reefs and other living creatures, and at each stage of its chronological sequence. The documentary offers “invaluable insights” by building events that enable the audience to understand the island, its rare living creatures and environment thanks to an “engaging” narrative style.

The film explores the breath-taking island, the beauty of its nature and its geological diversity. At times, the audience gets the impression as if the researchers are on Mars because of the island’s red soil, which is rich in iron oxide.

The film captures the amazement of the “action heroes” and their feelings in surprising encounters with dolphins, the help of a tired turtle, or even the appearance of sharks, and the enjoyment of young turtles and the thrill of chasing snakes and the spiny-tailed lizard.

Secrets revealed

Tariq Saeed Allay, Director-General of the SGMB, said: “The Sir Bu Nair Island documentary marks a turning point. Documentaries like these help put across Sharjah’s messages and policies most effectively. They represent a distinct communication channel and attract public attention thanks to their creative style and interesting insights that they offer.”

The documentary reveals the secrets of Sir Bu Nair Island, and answers the question why it is considered one of the most important islands in the Arabian Gulf, and why sailors were charmed by it in the past, said Allay.

“The viewers will learn all about the environmental characteristics of the island that have made it a site for nesting seagulls and breeding ground and safe haven for hawksbill turtles.”

He added: “The documentary also highlights the emirate’s efforts to empower Emirati women researchers to engage foreign experts and continue Sharjah’s environmental sustainability projects and biodiversity initiatives. We at the Sharjah Government Media Bureau are working to encourage women in order to support the efforts of the Emirate on the environment front and consolidate its position as a destination for environmental tourism even as we remain proud of our past and celebrate our cultural heritage, laying intellectual foundations for our future aspirations.”