• Sea to Summit Movie
  • Marine & Terrestrial Ecosystems

    The transition from offshore waters to the highest inland summit provides a profile through the Emirate of Abu Dhabi of a series of diverse landscapes with unique habitats and ecosystems, both terrestrial and marine. Although quite distinct, they are interlinked through an intricate and complex web of life. This interconnected web includes a remarkable diversity of species of flora and fauna that have evolved in response to challenging environmental conditions.

    When describing the habitats and biodiversity found in the Emirate, several themes emerge. Firstly, there is the notion of living on the edge. Many species exist close to the very limits and tolerances of their survival under relentlessly difficult conditions. Next, there are the unique adaptations to the prevailing environment that allow each species to occupy a specialised niche, no matter how constrained it may be. In addition, there is the idea of concealment and multiple dimensions and facets of the ecosystems. A landscape that at first glance appears barren or lifeless often hides aspects of life that only fully reveal themselves through closer observation and deeper understanding.

    Some of Abu Dhabi's most bountiful and delicate natural habitats, including mangrove forests, seagrass beds, mud flats, nutrient-rich shallows and coral reefs occur on or close to the coast. Here, marine resources such as fish and pearl oysters have sustained coastal communities for millennia, allowing trade and cultural links between diverse peoples that still flourish today.

    The desert ecosystems of Abu Dhabi display contrasting qualities of resilience and fragility. Over time, this has resulted in remarkable specialisations and a richness and diversity that is not obvious to the casual observer. Only slowly do they reveal themselves and, in the process, illuminate the uniqueness of an apparent emptiness that is far from empty.

    From sea to summit, the ecosystems of the Emirate are a priceless natural treasure. While often modest in abundance, they display other qualities that more than compensate for their apparent scarcity. Furthermore, scarcity brings with it a sense of rarity, fragility and greater value. For this and many other reasons, they warrant further research and careful preservation.


    Gulf Ecosystem

    To appreciate the fragile, marginal and delicately balanced state of ecosystems in the Arabian Gulf, it is important to highlight some vital processes and hydrological ...

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    Offshore Waters

    The offshore marine environment in the Gulf is extensive and quite diverse. It contains a rich and increasingly rare variety of species ranging from the microscopic ...

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    Shallow Water

    Seagrass are submerged vascular plants that play an essential role in the marine ecosystem of Abu Dhabi. They are the primary food source for Dugongs and provide ...

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    Mangrove forests

    Mangroves are forests of salt-tolerant trees that grow in the shallow tidal waters of some coastal areas of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. They require slow water currents ...

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    Coastal Habitats

    The coastal habitats of Abu Dhabi are diverse, comprising of mangrove forests, salt marshes, tidal flats with cyanobacterial (algal) mats, sandy and rocky beaches, ...

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    Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is located forty kilometres south-east of Abu Dhabi and covers an area of five square kilometres. It was formerly an area of sabkha amidst ...

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    Sand Sheets & Sand Dunes

    Sand sheets and dunes of various types cover most of the Emirate. Sand sheets are low relief features, largely devoid of dunes, whereas dunes are distinct and sometimes ...

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    Mountains & Wadis

    The chapter on the physical geography of the Emirate describes how a combination of processes including uplift, erosion and weathering have resulted in an array ...

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    Life on the Wing

    Birds are true evolutionary wonders. They possess the remarkable ability to connect countries and continents through migratory movements often requiring long and ...

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    The Elusive Houbara

    The Asian Houbara (Chlamydotis macqueenii), a large bustard that formerly over-wintered in Arabia in great numbers, has long been a topic of fascination for Emirati ...

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    Flamingos with their exotic pink colour, long body, and peculiar bill shape have attracted human attention since time immemorial, and cave paintings of them up to ...

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    Biodiversity Conservation

    The ecosystems, habitats and communities of flora and fauna of Abu Dhabi are a fragile, priceless treasure. However, development and growth impose intense pressure ...

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