Since ecotourism is one of the sustainable tourism forms that helps to preserve the natural and cultural heritage, the UAE places a high value on it.
Valued at an anticipated $200 billion in 2022, ecotourism has emerged as one of the major forces behind the worldwide tourist economy, accounting for roughly 10% of this crucial economic sector. Over the next ten years, ecotourism is expected to grow at a rate of 12.9 percent per year.
The health of natural ecosystems, as well as the fauna and biological diversity they support, are major factors in tourism. The study carried out by the World Bank provides the clearest illustration of this. It discovered that coral reefs, for example, have a substantial economic value estimated at approximately $36 billion annually due to activities like coral reef diving, wildlife observation, and general tourism in the vicinity of the reefs.
Since ecotourism is one of the sustainable tourism forms that helps to preserve the natural and cultural heritage, the United Arab Emirates gives it a lot of attention. Because travelers and tourists are becoming more conscious of environmental issues and are specifically looking for travel experiences that support sustainability standards and the preservation of the environment and national heritage, ecotourism has grown significantly over the past 20 years.
The Emirate of Umm Al Quwain has developed a unique and comprehensive tourist plan that places an emphasis on protecting desert and coastal ecosystems while also guaranteeing the authenticity of the emirate’s abundant historical and archaeological monuments.
The immaculate “Mangrove Beach,” which offers a variety of public recreation opportunities and views of Khor Al Yafra and Al Sinniyah Island, is one of the most significant tourist destinations that supports Umm Al Quwain’s goals and the most recent environmental best practices. Visitors can also take in the breathtaking beauty of the area’s flora and fauna.
Khor Al Beidah is one of the most well-known natural locations in the emirate. It is a multi-system seascape that spans more than 138 km2 and includes a range of important marine ecosystems, including hard rock bottom, mud flats, seaweeds, mangroves, and sabkha.
With the capacity to absorb and hold vast volumes of carbon, the coast lagoon is another important naturally occurring blue carbon sink. Numerous species found on the list maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature call these areas home, including the critically endangered Halavi Guitar fish (Glaucostegus halavi). A sizable colony of Socotra cormorants, which make up 15–35 percent of the bird species worldwide, may be found in the coastal lagoon.
Al Sinniyah Island, which is notable for its historical, archeological, and ecological qualities, is located in a nearby area of the khor. Al Sinniyah, one of the emirate’s largest natural islands, is home to numerous archaeological sites, including the oldest pearl diving city and a Christian monastery, as well as a verdant belt of luxuriant mangroves. The founders of the tribes that make up the emirate of Umm al Quwain also call it home.
With its distinctive coastal vegetation of mangrove trees and seagrass beds, Umm Al Quwain is known as a lush region of natural resources and one of the richest areas in the nation for marine and coastal biodiversity.
During the World Government Summit in 2022, the Umm Al Quwain government unveiled its groundbreaking Sustainable Blue Economy Strategy (SBE) 2031 in recognition of the abundant natural capital of the region. The strategy’s objective is to develop and execute Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and nature-positive tourism throughout the emirate.
The strategy, which consists of eight major projects, lays out how Umm Al Quwain intends to become a global leader in the blue economy. Additionally, it identifies the Sustainable Blue Economy as a major economic pillar of the region, with goals to attain a positive carbon outcome and contribute 40% of the emirate’s GDP by 2031.
The Blue Economy Office established the first natural reserve in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain as part of this initiative to preserve and revitalize the marine and coastal environment. The Umm Al Quwain Mangrove Reserve is the first environmental project under the office’s supervision as part of the Sustainable Blue Economy Strategy 2031. Its goals are to protect the environment by making the best use of available resources and to advance ecotourism in the emirate.
The Mangrove Beach project, which is part of the reserve, gives visitors the chance to discover the natural areas and coastal environment while also learning about the significance of mangroves.
The UAE’s flagship “Nature-Based Solutions” (NbS) project served as the inspiration for the development of the emirate’s SBE strategy, which was created in collaboration with Emirates Nature-WWF.
Environmental experts evaluated the blue carbon value and diversity of marine life in a crucial coastal area in Umm Al Quwain as part of the research. Umm Al Quwain, along with Al Sinniyah Island, comprise the pristine and untouched marine landscapes on the country’s western coast.
In order to sustainably preserve our coastal ecosystems and biodiversity, Umm Al Quwain will keep working to create strategies for blue economy initiatives that incorporate all of the emirate’s distinctive natural and cultural elements. Achieving our goal of improving nature-positive ecotourism will also be aided by the adoption of creative and sustainable initiatives.
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