The father of the nation, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, had great respect and love for nature. The lush green landscaping, parks, fruit-laden palm trees lining the streets and natural mangroves in the midst of urban development are a living testimony to the Emirate's commitment to protect its environment.
Despite the arid climate and scanty rainfall, Abu Dhabi has a rich repertoire of 3,500 native plants, the date palm being the most popular among them. Fruit and flower bearing trees from around the world are found in farms, gardens, parks and palaces in Abu Dhabi.
Local fauna includes the highly endangered Arabian leopard and the ibex. Camels and cats are the most commonly sighted animals in the open. In the desert, you could come across the sand cat, sand fox and desert hare, as well as gerbils, hedgehogs and geckos. Extensive efforts have been made to protect the native Arabian Oryx and various breeds of gazelle found in the region.
Abu Dhabi falls on the migration route of birds between Central Asia and East Africa and during the cooler months, birds from many parts of the world can be spotted by enthusiasts in the parks and trees lining the city streets. Local residents include sparrows, pigeons, and the protected houbara bustards among many others.
The rich marine life of Abu Dhabi includes tropical fish, coral, dolphins, the dugong (sea cow) and turtles. Eight species of whales and seven dolphin species have been recorded in the country. Endangered hawksbill and leatherback turtles can also be spotted offshore in the UAE and the government is making efforts to increase public awareness about the decreasing numbers of various fish so that people can make informed seafood choices.
Sir Bani Yas island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi, is home to thousands of large free-roaming animals and several million trees and plants – a result of decades of intensive conservation work and ecological investment under the guidance of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. A bird sanctuary as well as a wildlife reserve, Sir Bani Yas island helps you explore the natural environment through adventure safaris, kayaking, mountain biking, archery, hiking and snorkelling. The oasis city of Al Ain also has a well-maintained zoo with protected and endangered species.