What is the national animal of UAE? Hint: it is not a camel

What is the national animal of UAE? Hint: it is not a camel

When one thinks of the national animal of UAE, a camel is almost certainly among the possibilities that come to mind. Well, this is understandable since a considerable portion of the UAE is made of sprawling deserts. However, the UAE's national animal is an entirely different creature, not even remotely related to the camel.

UAE's national animal
Arabian Oryx, whose legendary beauty captivated the minds of Arab poets over 1,000 years ago are pictured in the desert outside the Gulf emirate of Dubai on December 7, 2020. Photo: Karim Sahib
Source: Getty Images

Here is a look at some fascinating facts about UAE's national animal.

What is the national animal of UAE?

The Arabian oryx is the official national animal of the United Arab Emirates. It is the largest animal that inhabits the Arab deserts and gravel plains. In Arabic, the oryx is known as Al Maha and is a species of antelope.

Arabian oryxes are native to regions of the Arabian Peninsula, including Yemen, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, and Bahrain. The Arabian oryx is well-adapted to the harsh conditions of the rugged wilderness.

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Its characteristic white fur helps reflect sunlight, allowing the oryx to remain cool even under the blazing sun. Its padded hooves are stretched out, allowing easy movement on soft sand. Appearance-wise, the animal has a dark lower body, legs included. Its upper body is primarily white, with black streaks on the area where the nose, brow, and spine go into the muzzle.

Where to find Arabian oryx in the UAE

Oryx in the UAE
Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) graze in al-Wusta wildlife reserve for environmental conservation in the Omani desert capital of Haima. Photo: Karim Sahib
Source: Getty Images

In the United Arab Emirates, Arabian oryxes can be found in the following areas.

  • Sharjah: The Arabian Wildlife Centre, a zoo open to the public. The oryx can also be found at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, a centre not accessible by the general public.
  • Dubai: The animal can be seen at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, which is accessible through some approved safari operators. The Arabian oryx can also be found at the Wadi Al Safa Wildlife Centre, though not open to the general public.
  • Abu Dhabi: Visitors can view the oryx at the Abu Dhabi – Al Ain Zoo. There is also an Arabian Oryx Protected Area that is not accessible to the public.

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Fascinating facts about the Arabian Oryx

Here are some interesting facts about the UAE's national animal.

  • The Arabian Oryx is said to smell rain in the distance. When winds carry the rain’s scent, the leading female oryx will lead her herd towards the fresh pastures that will have sprouted due to the rain.
  • The animal has a somewhat unique blood circulation system in its head. This system helps it cool its blood and internal organs, very essential for desert animals.
  • Oryxes are social animals and typically graze and travel in herds of up to 30 animals. However, when the conditions are not favourable, a herd will only comprise a male, several females, and their young ones.
  • The animal’s skin has a very low visibility glare. As a result, it is very hard to see an Arabian oryx from a distance further than 100 meters.
  • While not fast runners, oryxes can walk for extremely long distances. They have been known to cover 70 kilometres in a single night.
  • The Arabian oryx is the best-adapted oryx species for desert life. In the sun, the animal’s skin reflects off sun rays, allowing it to remain cool. In cold desert conditions, such as during winter mornings, their legs darken to absorb as much heat as possible.

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What is the UAE national bird called?

UAE's national bird
A falcon, the national bird of the UAE. Photo: pixabay.com, @christels
Source: UGC

The falcon is the national bird of the UAE. The choice of bird is fitting, seeing as falconry is an integral part of Emirati culture. UAE's national bird represents agility, national heritage, and strength. Besides appearing on the national emblem, the falcon also appears on most of UAE’s paper currencies.

Falconry in the UAE

Falconry is an activity that involves the use of birds of prey to hunt food. The activity originated in Asia and the Middle East. Nomadic tribes in those regions used falcons for hunting foxes, hares, and other small animals.

While falconry has disappeared from most parts of the world, it is still widely practised in the UAE. As a result, the region has several projects dedicated to the protection of falcons and falconry.

The UAE bird is considered so important that it’s the only animal allowed aboard an Emirates flight. This means that Emiratis can take their falcons with them when flying. This importance is further underlined by falcon imagery on Emirates’ flight tickets and the Abu Dhabi ADNOC gas stations.

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Additionally, Abu Dhabi (one of the constituent emirates of the UAE) is home to the largest falcon hospital in the world.

The national animal of UAE is among the symbols that represent the unity, strength, and heritage of the emirates making up the UAE. While one might wrongly assume that the camel is the obvious national animal of a desert country like the UAE, the lesser-known Arabian oryx is.

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According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest dog in the world is called Freddy. The Great Dane is quite tall at 1.035 meters. He lives in Essex, England.

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Source: Legit Newspaper

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