The 5% of Dubai that loves conservation

I recently spent a fantastic couple of days out at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve experiencing the great research work being done by Biosphere Expeditions. Biosphere has brought in a crew of everyday people to help out on research of the Gordon’s Wildcat and Arabian Oryx.


They’ve attracted an incredibly interesting crowd of people from all walks of life and all four corners, brought together by a willingness to dedicate their spare time towards conservation work. A non-profit wildlife organization, they also run conservation expeditions for environmental volunteers around the world. If you fancy a life-changing adventure for a good cause, check out their site.



I’ve spent a lot of time in the desert for both work and play but I’ve never driven around in a desert area that has way more animal tracks than 4×4 trails. Within the reserve lies a strict rule of sticking to existing tracks. It’s fascinating to discover how much wildlife is around. Amongst many, we even saw a few footprints of the desert fox, which I jokingly wanted to convert into Arabian leopard footprints by tweaking the picture in Photoshop. Not sure how that would be considered by the mind of a hardcore scientist!

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The expedition camped out in the dunes where we shared dinner around the campfire and slept under the stars. We were even accompanied by a howling owl from the tress above. I got comfy on top of my Landy in my beloved rooftop tent and my -20c winter sleeping bag. Gosh, it felt cold out there …

Wouter-Kingma-for-Biosphere-Expeditions-3 Wouter-Kingma-for-Biosphere-Expeditions-6The next morning, we were caught out by heavy fog. On the plus side, it kept the temperature cool but on the flip, it makes navigation difficult and it sucks from a photography point of view as we completely missed the sweet morning light. During the first hours, the light was flat and when the sun burned through the fog it was already high on the sky. Little could be done to get round this though. Thankfully, the sunset made up for it.

Wouter-Kingma-for-Biosphere-Expeditions-8 The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the UAE’s first national park dedicated to the protection of the natural desert habitat and heritage. So where does the 5% come from? The reserve forms the biggest piece of land that Dubai has dedicated to a single project so lots of love within a huge plot of land!

At WKP, we dedicate some of our time supporting great non-profit initiatives and we’re proud to be part of the 1% for the planet crowd. We’ll be announcing where our last years 1% for the planet contribution is going to shortly. Stay tuned!


The reserve also grounds the luxury resort of Al Maha, which is so worth a visit. I’ve been here a few times for assignments but never stayed overnight. You need a pretty thick wallet to fund the private villas with their stunning views and private pools although I have to say, they are worth every penny. As soon as you pass the security gate, it’s like a big magical magnet sucks away all your worries and concern, any bullsh*t going on in your life and replaces it with peace, calm and harmony. I dunno how they do it but they do!

The expedition team still has a good number of days of research to go. I wish them well and hope they manage to trap a few Gordon wild cats.



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