The economic downturn and the generic slowdown in the global financial market had made the situation rather difficult for most business sectors in Dubai. The realty segment too has been reeling under the financial storm and many developers have found the going to be tough in the recent business climate. Projects have been delayed or shelved, timeline estimates have been revised and investors too have reported lower than projected returns.
But this dark cloud has brought with it, a silver lining and an unexpected one at that. Cruising down Sheikh Zayed road one would have to keep their eyes peeled for a dirt track that appears to lead anyone taking it, straight to the ocean. What was once a defunct quarry has now morphed into one of the hidden jewels of the Emirate. Born into existence to serve the construction of the beaches lining the city’s waterfront hotels during the boom, the Ghantoot reserve is a sprawling expanse that extends to over two square kilometers. The Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG) is the brainchild behind this renewed habitat. Credited with providing an environment that is conducive to the growth of mangroves that had been nursery bred earlier, this green patch was chosen as the favourite visiting spot by over a hundred different species of migratory birds in just the previous year.
This fledging ecosystem has also become the last beacon of hope for the Hawksbill Turtle, being the solitary nesting grounds for this endangered species in the entire Emirate. The turtles start to drift onto the shore beginning March and they reside upto July and August, which is when the hatchlings make their debut. The Sandfox too have decided that they would join the banquet, as they feast on the turtle eggs found hidden in the nests. Apart from this predator, the Ghantoot reserve also plays host to some migratory inhabitants like the black-crowned finch lark, the chestnut-bellied sandgrouse and the cream-coloured courser that can be found taking up residence at various times in the year.
Thus, a tour of Dubai can come up with gems such as the Ghantoot reserve, provided one is willing to go looking for it in the first place. But while the beach front may still be open to the average Joe public, the reserve is only open to those that have registered in advance with the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG). And don’t forget to share your experience if you do happen to be among the lucky few that end up visiting this hidden gem of a tourist attraction in Dubai.