Abu Dhabi to grant public access to protected marine sites

Abu Dhabi to grant public access to protected marine sites

The sites contain the largest Indian Ocean humpback dolphin population and the second-largest population of dugongs in the world

Abu Dhabi has announced that protected marine sites across the emirate have now been made accessible to the public.

The announcement was made at the Monaco Yacht Show by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), in partnership with the Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), Abu Dhabi Maritime and Abu Dhabi Ship Building. 

A new marine reserves map of the capital and its waters, which outlines the areas now open to the public, is the latest addition to the emirate’s growing portfolio of tourism offerings.

This means eco-tourism aficionados will now have more options for exploring the emirate’s waterways

DCT Abu Dhabi executive director of Tourism and Marketing Ali Hassan Al Shaiba said: “Abu Dhabi’s marine sites are a significant part of our tourism sector. Our strategy involves expanding our tourism offerings in a sustainable manner that caters to the growing demand for more activities across the destination. The newly announced marine protected sites will not only support the growth and success of yacht management companies in Abu Dhabi but will also provide their customers with a new and breathtaking way to explore the capital.”

The EAD currently manages a total of six marine reserves, including the Marawah Biosphere, the region’s largest and first UNESCO-designated marine reserve.


Commenting on the announcement, Ahmed Al Hashmi, EAD acting executive director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, said: “Despite harsh conditions, we host abundant marine life, which has the highest tolerance threshold in the world.

We host the largest Indian Ocean humpback dolphin population and the densest dugong population, and the second-largest population of dugongs in the world

“That’s why we’re pleased to partner with DCT Abu Dhabi on the selection of marine protected areas that will help boost eco-tourism in Abu Dhabi.”

Several entities are joining forces to develop and promote Abu Dhabi’s marine attractions. Abu Dhabi Maritime managing director Captain Saif Al Mheiri said: “Abu Dhabi Maritime was honoured to join DCT Abu Dhabi and the Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi in promoting our emirate as a premier maritime destination at such a prestigious gathering. As the custodian of our emirate’s waterways, we’re working closely with our partners to expand our infrastructure and services and open up our pristine marine areas to the world. We look forward to engaging with the global maritime community to unlock the full potential of what Abu Dhabi has to offer.”

An additional project planned for Abu Dhabi’s marine sector includes Yas Bay on Yas Island. The project will feature new yacht berths and will be surrounded by hotels and entertainment activities including the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

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