A delegation of conservation experts from the United States have embarked on a fortnight-long tour of the Emirates to learn about UAE wildlife.
Senior figures from organisations including Disney, the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld were among a 13-person party currently touring some of the country’s leading natural sites and attractions.
It is hoped that the trip, organised by the UAE embassy in Washington DC, will lead to new collaborations in conservation between the nations, while also spreading awareness of UAE’s natural heritage and environmental preservation efforts.
The group met with Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
“The UAE is doing a lot in terms of wildlife management conservation, environmental conservation, and a lot of people are not very aware of this,” said Dana Al Marashi, head of cultural diplomacy at the UAE embassy to the US.
“So we thought this would be a great opportunity to bring leading professionals here to meet with their counterparts, learn about what the UAE is doing, and our hope is to be able to create partnerships, internship opportunities and general understanding of the work being done.
“Even though we’re halfway across the world from each other, there are a lot more similarities between our two cultures than there are differences. Our hope is by bringing these delegations, that we’re able to build bridges of cultural understanding.”
The visit was organised after the embassy approached the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a US organisation which runs a globally-respected accreditation scheme for wildlife attractions. It is hoped that similar visits will run in future.
The Arabian Oryx conservation programme, which successfully saw the species reintroduced to the wild, was an example of an area in which US bodies could learn from the UAE, Dan Ashe, president and chief executive of the AZA, said.
“The idea of the trip is to begin a dialogue about wildlife conservation and how we might be able to learn about what’s being done in the UAE and also how we might help people here learn,” he said.
“I have to admit, I’ve never been here before and the diversity of wildlife and habitat is surprising, because you do think of it as a desert, arid ecosystem. So you expect to see that, but you don’t expect to see the breadth of mangrove, wetland and related species. It’s eye opening.”
Click here to watch the video of the trip to the UAE.