One of the world’s best ecotourism models
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve was set up to save the Arabian Oryx- one of the rarest animals on the planet. Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa has put almost 5 percent of the emirate under official eco-protection and created the first national park. Not only does the hotel retain a full-time team of dedicated conservationists and a staff member dedicated to recycling, the resort recycles 100 percent of its water and grows a seed bank of 6,000 indigenous trees, shrubs, and grasses.
Designed in the style of a Bedouin encampment, each of the hotel’s 42 suites resemble tents, looking out over the desert near the Hajar Mountains. Plus the Al Maha is furnished with over 2,000 Arabic artefacts, one of the largest private collections in the UAE.
Guests are encouraged to take a nature walk through the landscape of constantly shifting dunes with a personal field guide to explore the flora -over 6,000 indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses and the fauna- the reserve is home to 33 types of mammals and reptiles as well as over 100 resident and migratory birds. And, of course, the Arabian Oryx, who were hunted to the brink of extinction and declared endangered by the 1970s. But thanks to the intervention of the late Sheikh Rashid and the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, there are now more than 300 Arabian Oryx wandering the reserve, the largest free-roaming herd in Arabia.
* title refers to a rating by National Geographic