This is the greatest rags-to-riches story on Earth. But to be honest, I was simply enjoying the moment, communing with a very different Dubai to the one we all know so well – the land of fly-and-flop getaways, boozy brunches and a penchant for all things superlative. The DDCR was also the first conservation area officially protected in the UAE, with a constitution and environmental law dedicated to ensuring its status as a nature reserve. Working alongside the Dubai Government, Emirates established this reserve to protect critical desert habitat and a variety of endangered species. And remarkably, almost all of the guides are Emirati, taking time out from their day jobs – as dentists, students, managers – to reveal what life was like before the oil boom. Information: visitdubai.com. “We’re not as superficial as you might think,” said Ruqaya. Job Number 20041899 Job Category Rooms and Guest Services Operations Location Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, United Arab Emirates VIEW ON MAP The Dubai desert conservation reserve offers its visitors an adorable landscape of sand dunes and fauna of desert. Working alongside the Dubai Government, Emirates established this reserve to protect critical desert habitat and a variety of endangered species. Chairman's message Please click here for more information. 28 of the UK's best festive events for families, Forget the Inca Trail – we trialled the new 'Black Diamond' route to Machu Picchu, The pandemic taught me how to magically transform cheap tat into treasured memories, The best Christmas lights switch-on events around the UK in 2020, Moody capture of Brighton Palace Pier wins Historic Photographer of the Year Award, Coronavirus UAE Spotlight Chart - Cases default, gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/united-arab-emirates. The DDCR takes up a massive 225 square kilometres, or about 5% of Dubai’s total land area, and also includes a leading conservation-based luxury resort. Here, in an old pearl trader’s house fashioned from palm wood and coral, you will find the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where I devoured sweet, saffron-laced dumplings as Emirati guides hosted a remarkably frank Q&A. In true Dubai style, there is the newly crowned “World’s Largest Fountains”, a spectacle the size of two football pitches – while winter will see yet more hotel openings, including an outpost of London’s The Langham. The dunes would be shifting tonight, as they have done for millennia – like a sculpture that is never quite finished. I’d like to say I saw it in the stars that night. This week’s announcement of a travel corridor between Britain and the UAE means that once lockdown restrictions have been lifted, we will be able to return to Dubai once more – without having to quarantine on return. (If you’d had to travel by camel, you’d be pretty keen on it too.) Our unique eco-tourism project in Australia. so sparkly! We would like to show you a description here but the site won’t allow us. “I do this to keep my culture alive,” said Ali, who used to work as a sports television editor. But can you blame us? The Emirates Group commitment to acting sustainably. I joined its hordes of expats in 2012, in search of a tax-free salary and sunshine. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Please click here for more information. The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) is the UAE’s first national park. Please review our, You need to be a subscriber to join the conversation. The Telegraph values your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. The sheikh founded Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, a vast sanctuary just outside the city – a wildlife haven, yes, but also a place where you can ride pampered camels across the dunes, see the locals’ beloved falcons in flight, and visit a Bedouin camp for supper. Sustainability in operations Please click here for more information. There were no Emirati restaurants, no overt traditions, no opportunities to mingle with our hosts. With hindsight, the stars must have been aligned. Topics ranged from the Five Pillars of Islam, to how many wives a man can have (“as many as he can afford to take care of”). Find out more, The latest offers and discount codes from popular brands on Telegraph Voucher Codes, Bedouins roast cardamom seeds for their morning coffee, Flamingos in Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, Looking for Father Christmas? During my two-year stay, I met no more than a dozen Emiratis: in a city of 3.2 million, only 255,000 are nationals – living in private communities and socialising in circles that most foreigners never enter. But in our Bedouin camp, warmed by cardamom coffee and a glowing campfire, we settled in for a night of stories and stargazing. “Ours is a culture that had to wear its resources,” she replied gently. In addition to protecting several endangered large mammal species such as the Arabian oryx, the DDCR is a major contributor to both local scientific research and conservation efforts. And we, too, were forgetting them.”. The emirate has certainly been busy while we have been gone. Bright, bold, and with ambition undimmed – surely there is no better cure for the pandemic blues than Dubai. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) is one of the largest areas to be declared as a protected nature reserve by the government in the UAE. Dubai has faced Covid-19 with its trademark optimism. “Our ruler is a nature-lover; he wanted to create a desert oasis for Arabian oryx, and somewhere the migrating birds could rest.” But the sheikh’s attention soon turned to the conservation of his people, too. In recent months the likes of Sofitel and IHG have opened fresh, luxurious hotels in the city, while new seafront promenade “Palm West Beach” promises glamorous brunch venues and watersports fun – with lashings of guaranteed winter sun. In just 60 years, locals like Ali Al Karam have swapped their wind-whipped camps for palatial villas and a passion for Rolexes, and who can blame them? This is surely due, in part, to the young expatriate population, though strict border controls and rigorous testing for all international arrivals have certainly halted the spread too. Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve Credit: Dubai Tourism And remarkably, almost all of the guides are Emirati, taking time out from their day jobs – as dentists, students, managers – … Covid-19 cases in the UAE have stayed relatively low, with 146,000 infections recorded at the time of going to press – as have deaths, at 520. “This camp started as a project to conserve wildlife,” Ali said proudly, pouring more coffee from a voluptuous, gold-spouted pot (where else but Dubai would Bedouins boast such bling?) “He saw that visitors weren’t experiencing the UAE’s real culture. I, like many prople, thought Dubai had the depth of a gilded teaspoon. When this sky-scraping, gold-loving emirate rose from the dunes on a wave of oil wealth, its humble history became a forgotten footnote. But for all its new frivolities, some of Dubai’s greatest surprises still lie in its humblest corners – such as Al Fahidi, a century-old neighbourhood on the edge of the Creek. Embark on a Conservation adventure in luxury Rang Rovers through the largest National Park in the UAE, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve which is dedicated to preserving the unique and beautiful desert habitat and the hundreds of fascinating flora and fauna species it hosts. It began with the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR). It’s a far cry from the closed-off community I encountered originally. Location. Emirates flies direct to Dubai from eight UK airports from £404 return (emirates.com). Learn more about the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (Opens in a new window). All Rights Reserved. Working alongside the Dubai Government, Emirates established this reserve to protect critical desert habitat and endangered species. We are working across our business to minimise waste and maximise efficiency, both in the air and on the ground. That mindset doesn’t disappear in just one generation.”, Suddenly, the city’s lavish tastes – and Ali’s bling-tastic coffee pot – took on a new meaning. Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understand-ing “cultural lunch” from £27pp (cultures.ae). For Covid-19 testing requirements for Dubai, see gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/united-arab-emirates. Come and bask in its endless, glorious golden age. It was easy, then, to assume they had no ­culture of their own – but I was swiftly realising my mistake. “It’s just how we are wired up. The Dubai desert conservation reserve is a first national park in UAE. © 2020 The Emirates Group. Your desert safari package will include a scenic dune drive into the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve where you’ll be able to try a range of desert activities such as a camel rides, sandboarding, henna hand-painting and regional live entertainment as well as the chance to relax in the picturesque Bedouin-style camp and make the most of the photo opportunities.