The United Arab Emirates (UAE) designates Wadi Wurayah National Park as its second Wetland of International Importance
Since 2006, the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF has been promoting the conservation of Wadi Wurayah that concluded in 2009 with the official protection of the site by HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Fujairah, as the first mountain protected area of the UAE. EWS-WWF has since been continuing its cooperation with the Fujairah Municipality for the conservation management of the wadi. Further information can be found on www.ewswwf.ae/wurayah.
The Wadi Wurayah National Park (12,700 ha; 25º24’N 056º15’E) is also listed as a National Protected Area. As summarized by Marian Gwilliam, the area’s geology has created a unique hydrogeological system that allows run-off water to emerge between impermeable and permeable rock creating fresh water streams, pools and waterfalls, all of which are uncommon in an arid region. The diversity of fresh water habitats provide important spawning ground for fish such as Garra barreimiae (Cyprinidae) which is threatened and endemic to the Arabian Peninsula, including seven newly discovered insect species of which four (Order: Ephemeroptera) have water dependent larval stages.
The site supports 11 threatened species of mammals, such as the Arabian Tahr (Hemitrgus jayakari). In 1978 the total world population of Arabian Tahr was estimated at ca. 2000 (Munton, 1985), today, the population is estimated to be at least 20 individuals. So far, 73 species of birds such as the endangered Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) have been recorded. The Wadi Wurayah National Park hosts 17 reptile species such as the Bar-tailed Semaphore Gecko (Pristurus celerrimus) and at least two amphibian species, all which are endemic to the UAE and Northern Oman. The Wadi Wurayah National Park is a rich archaeological site with 29 heritage sites such as, Islamic graveyards, petroglyphs and settlements dating as far as the Iron Age (1,300-500BC). The last local family left the area in 1981. Occasionally, locals venture to the site to collect medicinal plants, wild honey and fodder for livestock.
Threats to the site include water exploitation, rock extraction and wild life poaching. The Wadi Wurayah National Park is owned by Fujairah Emirate. The Environment Protection and Development Department of Fujairah Municipality is responsible for managing this site.
The United Arab Emirates joined the Ramsar Convention in 2007.