The Best Bird-Watching Spots in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is regarded as the premier place for bird watching in the Middle East.  As many as 442 species have been sighted and recorded in this country in the last several years. Here we will see the best bird-watching spots in the UAE.

These birds consist of native, migratory, and newly introduced species in the country.

The variety of feathered creatures to be found here will certainly please even the most well-traveled and learned bird watchers.

Where to Find the Most Fascinating Fowls in the UAE

The best bird watching spots in the UAE
Bird watching spots in the UAE

The hundreds of avian species that live permanently and temporarily in the UAE can be found across the country. If you want to spot the most beautiful, unique, and intriguing birds, make a plan to visit these places:

1.     Abu Dhabi

There are two must-visit places in the capital of the UAE for birding: the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve and the Mangrove National Park. These are among the best bird-watching spots in the UAE.

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve can be found 50 kilometers (around a 40-minute drive) away from the city. It is officially recognized as one of the 2,000 remaining wetlands in the world.

The area was also placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas in 2018.

Although there are around 250 avian species here, the flamingo in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is the main reason that bird watchers, nature lovers, and tourists flock to this area.

The flamingo herd, or flamboyance, is a sight to see. You will be amazed by their bright color and stature. Hearing their striking nasal honking from a distance is quite an experience, too.

Aside from flamingos, the wetland reserve is also home to a number of grey-headed swamphens, black-winged stilts, and Western Marsh Harriers — birds that are always worth seeing.

The Mangrove National Park is also considered a bird watcher’s paradise. Flamingos populate this area of protected coastal mangrove forests as well.

Aside from flamingos, there are an additional 60 species of birds that dwell in this area. These include the western reef herons, great egrets, and other types of waders.

The Abu Dhabi Corniche and Lulu Island are also worth visiting if you want to spot more birds in this emirate.

2.     Dubai

Similarly, this emirate has a number of reserves and parks that are ideal for bird watching. The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Reserve is one of these areas.

This wildlife reserve is another home to a large population of flamingos. In addition, over 190 species of birds can be spotted here, including rare ones, such as the pied kingfisher, Pallas’s fish eagle, demoiselle crane, great-crested grebe, and red-crested pochard.

Other species you will likely spot here, particularly between July and April, are the broad-billed sandpipers, greater spotted eagles, western marsh harriers, western ospreys, harriers, and falcons. 

Al Mamzar Park is another bird watcher’s paradise that is easy to access. Some of the regular species you can find here are the white-throated robin, semi-collared flycatcher, thrush nightingale, and eastern cinereous bunting.

If you’re lucky, you may spot some of the rarer species that include the Asian koel, ashy drongo, white-throated kingfisher, and large-billed leaf warbler.

Safa Park, Dubai Creek Park, and Mushrif National Park are also excellent places for birding in Dubai.

Bird watching spots in the UAE
Bird watching spots in the UAE

3.     Al-Ain

There are several areas in Al Ain that are perfect for bird spotting as well.

Green Mubazzarah, which is known for its hot springs, is a favorite destination of migrant birds. As many as 219 species have been spotted here, including different varieties of herons and doves.

Rare avian species that have been seen here include the Eurasian hoopoe, graceful Prinia, little grebe, and red-tailed shrike.

Zakher Lake is another place that draws migrant and native birds. The great cormorant, gray heron, black-winged stilt, and laughing dove are the usual species you can find here.

In the past years, there have been sightings of uncommon species that include the Northern shoveler, mallard, common pochard, and Kentish Plover.

Jebel Hafit, Al Qua’a Fodder Field, and Al Saad Farms are also worth visiting if you want to spot more birds in Al Ain.

4.     Fujairah

The Kalba Corniche Park should be your first destination if you want to go bird watching in Fujairah. This area is home to 100 different avian species which include sea birds such as seagulls and sandpipers.

Wamm Farms is another place in Fujairah that is perfect for birding. The latest number of avian species that have been recorded is around 271.

The most common species you will likely find here are the white, yellow, and grey wagtails, great spotted eagle, crested honey buzzard, and other types of raptors. You may also spot an Eastern cattle egret, Indian rollers, pectoral sandpiper, pied stonechat, and white-throated kingfisher.

Rare species that you may spot, if you are lucky, include the Amur falcon, Eurasian bittern, lappet-faced vulture, and Northern goshawk.

Other places in Fujairah that are also worth visiting for bird watching are Masafi Wadi and Ra’s Dibba.

Wherever and whenever you go bird watching, always remember to be a responsible and eco-friendly traveler. Respect all wildlife as well. By doing so, you can be an ambassador for nature, even in your own small way.     


Rasha El Saleh is the Conservation Education and Outreach Coordinator in the education team of Emirates Nature-WWF working on its program, Connect with Nature. She leads the outreach and youth empowerment aspect in growing the Connect with Nature community within the UAE and providing opportunities for youth to lead in this community, in addition to supporting partnerships with vendors supporting and promoting active aspects of the program.

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