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Last weekend we went to visit the UAE’s only UNESCO recognized biosphere reserve: the Merawah Marine Biosphere Reserve. Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.

As we have signed a consultancy agreement with UNESCO Arab Region (Doha Office) to visit as many MAB reserves on our global expedition, we thought to (re)visit the closest one to us.

Although we were only on the western side of the reserve, we were pretty appalled at what we saw. We had been two years ago, quite frankly, the situation has become worse. Most of the mangroves and trees planted in the area, advertised by the Environmental Agency of Abu-Dhabi (EAD is the UAE national body looking after the reserve) as an important habitat for species, have died. The rubbish, and especially plastic, accumulated has quadrupled and most of all, another artificial causeway and island has been built into the sea.

The following pictures speak for themselves:

Above picture shows the beach on our first visit to the spot for UAE National day (early December) in 2009.

This is the exact same spot, with tonnes more rubbish and an artificial causeway built to an artificial island. We really don’t think this is what should be seen and should be done in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve!

The amount of plastic on this tiny stretch of beach is unreal!

As you can see from the picture of our camp below, this is a very special area and we hope more will be done to protect it in the future.