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Zoos of the United Arab Emirates

Updated on September 15, 2020
Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years work within zoos.

Zoos of the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is made up of the seven former trucial states now united under one flag. They vary both in size and in wealth.

There has always been an interest in wildlife in the Arab world and the UAE is no different. Primarily this centres around the falcon and its prey species but the love and appreciation of other animals is quite obvious even to the casual visitor.

Sadly much of this interest is misguided and there are numerous secret private collections holding big cats, Orangutans and more. Where money is of no matter then anything can be purchased by those who desire. These places are supplied by people who take advantage of the buyers by lies and extraction of large amounts of cash. Wild Cheetah populations are under threat by the actions of these unscrupulous uncaring people.There are no legally held Orangutans in the UAE.

I cast no judgement on the staff working in any of these collections because these are Zoo Keepers and in general Zoo Keepers Care.

Happily there are other private collections which have a genuine interest in conservation and all it entails. When I first worked in the Emirates in the late 1970s the establishment in which I worked had around seven Arabian Oryx which we bred up in goodly numbers. Elsewhere in the UAE I visited or was to some degree was involved with private collections which had around another hundred animals between them. Unseen to the general world the survival of the Oryx was in good hands. In 2011 there were 4129 living Arabian Oryx recorded in the United Arab Emirates. I was instrumental in re-locating some of the first of these animals to Sir Bani Yas and Abu Al Abyad.

It was on one such trip that I had my one and only 'one to one' meeting with Shaikh Zâyed bin Sulṭân Âl Nahyân the ruler and founding father of the UAE. I had met him several times before but always with his bodyguards or family. This was different. I will remember meeting always. He was different. He was a great man.

Elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf the 'animal scene' was probably the same. I recollect that it was in 1965 (two years before I started my zoo career) that I was first nearly impaled by an Arabian Oryx. This in a private garden on the outskirts of Kuwait City.

My interest in animals was sparked in 1951 by regular visits to 'The Nursery' in Ahmadi, Kuwait where there was a collection of well cared for gazelles and other animals. My first visit to the 'old' Kuwait Zoo in 1956 left me with altogether different feelings.

Is It A Zoo?

Some of these collections will claim that they are not a zoo but 'something else'. It means nothing. If they are wild animals being held captive then it IS a zoo. It matters little if they are held in a thousand acres, if there is a fence around it and they are being provided some food and water then it IS a zoo.

Whether is a GOOD zoo or a DYSFUNCTIONAL ZOO is an altogether different matter.

United Arab Emirates

The List Below

The list of animal collections below is not comprehensive. There are others of which I am aware but don't have enough details.I make no distinction of what is good, bad or indifferent.

Please do not contact me for further information on any of these. Private means Private.

Abu Dhabi

Abu al Abyad Island

Private - Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi National Aquarium

Al Qana, Abu Dhabi (not yet open)

Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre

Mussafah Al Ain Truck Road, Abu Dhabi

Al Ajban Trophy Hunting & Desert Safari

Private - Abu Dhabi

Al Ain Zoo

Al Ain City

Arabian oryx collection of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed

Private - Bu Deep

Bani Yas Island - Arabian Wildlife Park

Sir Bani Yas Island, Jebel Dhanna

Barari Hunting Resort

Al Ain

Emirates Park Zoo

Al Rahba city, Abu Dhabi

National Avian Research Centre

Sweihan, Abu Dhabi

Private Collection

Private - Abu Dhabi

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi (Not yet opened)

The Management of Nature Conservation

Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain

Other locations

Wrsan Farm

Private - Al Ajban - Abu Dhabi

Arabian Oryx


Private Collection

Arabian Sand Cat


Al Marmoon Conservation Reserve

Al Qudra Road, Seeh Al Salam

Atlantis Dolphin Bay

The Palm, Dubai

Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium

The Palm, Dubai

Belhasa Farm

Private - Al Khawaneej, Dubai

Burj Al Arab Aquarium

Jumeirah, Dubai

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

The Dubai Mall

Dubai Butterfly Palace

(Under construction) Dubai

Dubai Crocodile Park

(Under Construction) Close to the Mushrif Reserve and Dubai Safari.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Dubai Desert

Dubai Dolphinarium

Creek Park, Dubai

Dubai Zoo

Jumeirah, Dubai.....NOW CLOSED

Dubai Safari Zoo

Al Warqa 5 - Dubai........CLOSED - reopening date unknown


Uptown Mirdif Mall, Dubai

Green Planet


H.E. Sheikh Butti Maktoum's Wildlife Center

Private - Dubai

Jumeirah Turtle Rehabilitation

Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah

Mushrif Park Petting Zoo


Nakheel Farm

Private - Dubai

Ski Dubai Penguin Encounter

Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, Dubai

Wadi Al Safa Wildlife Centre

Private - Dubai

Zabeel Palace

Private - Dubai

Zayed Bin Mohammed Zoo

Private - Dubai

Houbara Bustard


Al Mayya Sanctuary


Arabian Tahr Breeding Centre

Wadi Wurayah National Park


Arabian Desert Hare

Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah Wildlife Park

Ras al Khaimah



Al Bustan Zoological Garden

Private - Al Dhaid, Sharjah

Al Bustan Farm

Private - Sharjah

Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre

Sharjah Kalba road near the emirate’s east coast

Elebriddi Wildlife Protected Area ( Seih Al Bardi Park )

Private - Al Dhaid, Sharjah - Will open to the public shortly as one of the Worlds Biggest Safari Parks.

Kalba Bird of Prey Centre

Al Gheel Fortress, Kalba, Sharjah

Posh Paws Animal Sanctuary and Petting Farm

Al Zubair, Sharjah

Sharjah Aquarium

Al Khan Old Area, Sharjah

Sharjah Desert Park - Arabia's Wildlife Centre

Al Dhaid Road, Sharjah

Saw-scaled Viper

Umm Al Quwain

SHEIKH KHALIFA BIN ZAYED CENTRE for Marine Research and Aquarium

Arabian Wolf

Where Do The UAE Zoos Go From Here?

There were plans to set up the Arabian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Several UAE Zoos attended the early meetings. Further meetings were attended by staff from other Middle Eastern zoos. Unfortunately the set up foundered. I am unaware of the present status.

This is no easy task for the UAE let alone giving consideration to the rest of Arabia. Opinions on what is 'good' or 'bad' differ so widely. There are those who believe that Playing with Lions and Tigers or breeding or keeping mutations and hybrids is a good thing....when it most definitely isn't.

The easy way out would to base the articles of the Association on something similar which exists elsewhere. However there are bad Associations in the same way there are bad zoos. It must go further than that. I believe that the implementation of Zoo Legislation needs to be put in place before or in tandem with the Association. This way the wheat can be sorted from the chaff right at the start. I have great faith that the UAE will move this way eventually so sooner rather than later would be a good move.

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Submit a Comment
  • CMHypno profile image


    6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

    Very interesting hub on zoos in the UAE. I think it's a shame there are still people in the world who still view wild animals as possessions they can own and play with. But hopefully, the new Association will come together and play a big part in regulating and educating in the region

  • snerfu profile image

    Vivian Sudhir 

    6 years ago from Madurai, India

    Truly amazing collection of animals in the desert region. Wonderful to see them all living in harmony together.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    6 years ago from USA

    The secret private collections concern me. I love animals and don't like the notion that they may be exploited.


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