The Secretariat is delighted to announce that we have been informed by UNESCO, the Convention's legal depositary, that the United Arab Emirates have completed the accession formalities on 29 August 2007, and that therefore the Convention, as amended in 1982 and 1987, will enter into force for the U.A.E. on 29 December 2007.
The new Party's first Ramsar site is "Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary" (620 hectares), an area of "sabkha" saline flats, intertidal mudflats and mangroves, small lagoons and pools, and a few tiny islands which lies at the interface between the Arabian or Persian Gulf and the Al Awir Desert in the Emirate of Dubai - the name means 'head of creek' in reference to the 14km long watercourse known as the Dubai Creek, which is an important waterway in the area that serves as a focal point for the social and cultural life of Dubai. During winter the site supports more than 20,000 waterbirds of 67 species and acts as a critical staging ground for the wintering birds of the East African-West Asian Flyway.
The site hosts more than 500 species of flora and fauna and is one of the best-managed arid zone wetlands in the region. Located within Dubai city, it is an important tourist spot and received visitors from 98 countries in 2005-6. Eutrophication is seen as the principal threat to the character of the site but has been decreasing recently. A marine biological field laboratory is present, and a visitors' centre is under construction.
The Convention now has 156 Contracting Parties, which have designated 1,676 Wetlands of International Importance.