Flamingos in the Desert

Dubai is known for several things—both good and bad—and one of them is the tallest structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa …

… and not so far away from this engineering marvel lies a 620-hectare area comprising of  sabkha saline flats, intertidal mudflats and mangroves, small lagoons and pools, and a few tiny islands.  This is UAE’s first Ramsar site, known as the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.

We walked through this path that lead us to an observatory area that resembles a tiny wooden hut …

…and observed the pink birds discreetly from a safe distance without disrupting the bird’s daily routine, which includes standing and appearing busy, and scratching their delicate pink feathers.

Credit to the picture above goes to my lovely sister, Sanaf, who has greatly improved her photography in such a short period of time.

Behold the greater flamingo …

The Greater Flamingo is the most widespread species of the flamingo family.

We took a closer look at the flamingos by peeking into a monocular that stood proudly atop a magnificent Manfrotto tripod, which I wanted to bring home with me.  I think it will look gorgeous with my Nikon …

The flamingos have an interesting feeding technique, which involves stirring up the mud and water with their long legs and webbed feet. They then bury their bills, or even their entire heads, upside down in the water and suck up both mud and water. They shake their head from side to side to expel the excess mud and water, hold back and eat their meal (which is high in carotene, responsible for the pink color of their feathers).

Otherwise, they just stand on one foot and appear to look pretty …

Some of these beauties with Dubai’s skyscrapers in the background …

And just before you leave the sanctuary, the security guy will ask you to sign your name and contact number …

Visiting hours:  9 am – 4 pm, daily (except Fridays)

Individuals and family group visits do not require permit, you can simply drive down there and visit the birds.  However, company and/or media group need to call them first and get a permit.

To visit the official website of the Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, click here.

And yes, the flamingos sleep while standing on one foot.  And they croak like a frog.


    1. Yep, from this side of the city, you get the complete (and uninterrupted) view of the Burj Khalifa.

      Flamingos are noisy, croaking non-stop like frogs during a rainy day 😀

  1. Your pics, sis…. your pics…. masya-Allah…. they are all beautiful….! I really envy you and your brilliant narations! By the way, how come you get to go to all these lovely places so often lately??? Are you on a long holiday or something like that? I am still struggling to finalise my thesis. Till it’s done, I’ll never be able to go anywhere….:( It’s like I’m living in a cave right now. I don’t even see the sunlight!!! Aaaarrrgghhh!!!!

    1. Ati, you are too generous and humble; you write so well, mashaAllah.

      I wish I was in a long holiday 😀 These lovely places are close to where I live, about 30-minutes drive without the traffic. I went there with my mom and sister one afternoon.

      Good luck with the thesis! What’s it about and when is it due?

  2. I desperately wanted to visit this gorgeous place the last time I was in Dubai but sadly it wasnt open to the public yet. I hope to see it someday, your photos are gorgeous

  3. Sis, I am writing about the implementation of international financial reporting standards in Malaysia for my doctrate thesis. About to reach the end now. I am hoping to submit my work before I am due to deliver early May. So much tension at the moment. But honestly these amazing pictures you have on your blog help me push my worries aside and remind me to always say “Alhamdulillah”…. 🙂

  4. O_o

    That’s some serious topic for a thesis! I pray that it turns out great, inshaAllah. I understand the tension, but there’s no way to avoid that at the moment 😀 It will be all worth the effort in the end, inshaAllah.

    I’m so happy that you love the pictures *hugs*

  5. Nothing beats the wonder of nature,not even the Burj!:D Lovely just simply magnificent photography and your sis is in it too?mA! How wonderful! Loved all the info on flamingoes,the sanctuary and the surrounding area.Thank you so much.At least I get to enjoy them thru’ your pics.No idea at all when I’ll ever get a chance to travel to that part of the world.Thank you again Nadia!

    1. I agree, Lat: nothing beats nature!

      You are most welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures; thank you. I love sharing this small corner of the world with you.

      And yeah, my sister has taken an interest in photography and is learning really fast, mashaAllah. I think she shoots on manual mode more than I do 🙂

    1. Kirigalpoththa, I didn’t know about it either! It doesn’t get much publicity around here. People are more crazy about tallest building or biggest fountain!

  6. This is so interesting, would never have guessed such pretty wildlife exists smack in the city 🙂 So glad I’ve found your blog.

    1. Not a lot of people know about this place, Adla. It’s not advertised or anything. But then I guess less crowd is good for the birds.

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