20 Feb 2024

An introduction to the     DDCR

The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a special place. For the unfamiliar, it is a protected nature reserve located on the outskirts of the Dubai desert, spanning across 5% of Dubai’s total landmass and home to dozens of native flora and fauna.

The Reserve is somewhere people of all ages can go to learn about the rich biodiversity of the UAE, while seeing some of it for themselves. There are also a selection of desert safari tours operating in the Reserve, as well as a conservation-based luxury resort and overnight deluxe camping opportunities. 

In this blog, we would like to take you on an educational tour across the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, presenting its history, the plants and animals that are native to the Reserve, the experiences available to guests, and so much more. Please, join us for a journey through the DDCR.


Arabian oryx museum

A rich and     royal history

The DDCR story started in 2002, with HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum opening the Reserve as part of a joint initiative with the Dubai government. The Reserve is endorsed by the Dubai Royal Family, owing to its role in protecting and preserving local flora and fauna indigenous to the Dubai desert. All living creatures within the space are given the opportunity to live in a free, open space where they are safe from any unwanted human intervention.

Since the launch of the DDCR, there has been exponential growth in the protected wildlife within the Reserve. Endangered species have grown in numbers, new wildlife has been discovered, and awareness has been raised about the protection of animals and plants across the country. The best part? You can come and see it all for yourself, as the Reserve is open to guests. 

DDCR plants and     animals


There are hundreds of diverse wildlife species to be discovered in the DDCR. Some are recognisable to most visitors, like the gazelle or the Arabian Oryx for example. However, some are less recognisable, making them a source of tremendous intrigue. It’s the awakening of this inner curiosity that makes the DDCR such an educational and inspiring experience. 

Here are just a handful of DDCR residents: 

  • Arabian Oryx – the national animal of the United Arab Emirates with unmistakably tall horns

  • Sand Fox – a slender white fox with distinctive coat and pointed ears

  • Desert Runner – the UAE's largest lizard. Catch it if you can - it's an expert camouflager! 

  • Sindh Saw-scaled Viper – a sandy coloured snake with an instantly recognisable side-winding trail 

The Reserve is also home to a huge variety of plants, some of which remain under close protection and observation by the DDCR to boost their long-term prosperity. 

Oryx in the desert

Research and    conservation   efforts

Having access to such a vast natural space has provided the DDCR with an ability to conduct controlled, meaningful research. Projects are regularly ongoing, contributing to the overall picture of the Reserve's biodiversity. They often range from monitoring wildlife activity, vegetation assessments, changes in functional diversity, and the DDCR’s general annual reports.

Would you like to gain a bit of a deeper insight into the DDCR's research projects? Reports are freely available on the Reserve's website, and are often published by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. The reports themselves prove to be fascinating reads as they're easy to understand and are accessible to both experts and enthusiasts.

Gazelle in the desert

Discover the    DDCR


One of the best things about the DDCR is its accessibility - there are so many ways to discover it yourself. Here are just a small handful of ways in which you can discover the wonder of the DDCR: 

  • Visitor Centre Guided Tours: The DDCR has a newly-refreshed Visitor Centre, set in rustic safari covers and with plenty of nods to the Reserve’s abundant wildlife. The Centre is an introduction to the Reserve, its history, conservation efforts, and includes interactive elements to immerse guests from the very beginning. There are guided Visitor Centre tour options available, with an added option of a guided 1-hour tour across the Reserve in a 4x4 vehicle also an option. A great way to dabble your feet into the DDCR experience.  

  • DDCR Desert Safaris: Arabian Adventures operates a variety of award-winning desert experiences which immerse you in the wonder of the DDCR firsthand. They take place across morning, afternoon and evening time slots, and all include many wildlife spotting opportunities to see the flora and fauna up close. Their most popular desert experiences include the Evening Desert Safari and Overnight Desert Experience, each including a BBQ dinner in a Bedouin style setting and camping in a deluxe desert tent for the Overnight. More on that... 

  • Overnight Experiences: There are a couple of overnight experiences that can be enjoyed in the DDCR, each of which offering their own unique way to experience the Reserve. First is another Arabian Adventures experience called the Overnight Desert Experience. Guests will camp in deluxe tents, in the heart of the DDCR, sleeping next to nature. The itinerary for the Overnight Desert Experience also includes wildlife spotting opportunities, BBQ dinner, and other exciting activities including camel rides and dune drives. 
    Another way to experience the DDCR overnight is by staying at Al Maha Collection. This desert hotel is set within the DDCR, and include a Bedouin suite with a private pool. The DDCR’s wildlife are known to walk past the accommodation, and even come up to the private pool for a little drink. How amazing! 

The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a source of tremendous pride for the UAE. Its efforts to preserve local wildlife and provide a safe and protected space for flora and fauna to flourish have been richly rewarded with a space that is filled with awe and wonder.

A true jewel in the crown of the country, the DDCR acts as a symbol of what’s possible when an idea is truly committed to.


a) What are the visiting hours and entry fees for the DDCR? 

9am – 5pm Monday to Saturday, with extended hours of 7am – 5pm on Sunday. Entrance fees to the visitor centre are only 145 AED, and activities within the DDCR including desert safaris are dependent on the activity.

b) What are the major challenges faced by the DDCR? 

The DDCR’s daily challenge is to ensure the wildlife in the reserve remains protected and continues to thrive. This is particularly true for any endangered flora and fauna which call the DDCR their home, as the reserve works to boost their populations and move them away from their endangered status. 

c) Can educational institutions organize trips to the DDCR? 

Absolutely! Arabian Adventures operate school trips for educational institutions, so students can explore local wildlife up close on tailored morning safaris or overnight experiences.  

You’ll find the full list of the educational experiences on the Arabian Adventures website. 

d) How has the DDCR evolved since its inception? 

Beginning as a government backed initiative, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve has evolved from being a space protecting endangered species, to a home for local wildlife and a location which residents and tourists from across the world can come to witness the beauty of the UAE’s flora and fauna.