Photo Courtesy of VisitDubai

Experiences of connecting with nature in the UAE: how I found the beauty of UAE’s nature

As the famous poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī once said, “Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent. Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”

Nov 13, 2022

Coming from a neighborhood in Mexico City where the closest park is a fifteen-minute drive away, I have always found it difficult to access and connect with nature. Nevertheless, I always found a way to make the most of what limited nature I could find, making mud cakes and creating cities for all the woodlice that lived on my grandma’s terrace. Now, as I live in NYU Abu Dhabi, being able to cherish the view of the sea from my dorm and having the sea shore be just a short run away is all I could ever ask for.
Photo Credits to Miriam Delgado
Abu Dhabi’s Mangrove Walk
If you ask me, nature can simply be found in the sky. Having the chance to appreciate a beautiful sunrise or sunset is enough to make me feel connected to the best aspects of life. This is something I discovered in 2020 during the lockdown period when, for a school project, I photographed Mexico City’s sunrises and sunsets for seventy days straight. Far from being repetitive, this showed me that even if every day felt the same, these moments were unreproducible. In its own way, the UAE has gifted me with some of the best skies of my life. Thus, this is why my strongest recommendation as a third-year student is for you to spend as much time outdoors as you can, because the way in which each day's sun rays shine through the clouds is unique, and you may not ever get to experience them again in the same way.
Photo Credits to Miriam Delgado
Full Moon Kayak Tour
Alumna Gabrielle Branche, Class of 2021, and my wonderful First-Year Dialogue facilitator, pushed me to discover places beyond Saadiyat. One of the first outings she organized for us was a picnic in a small park in the middle of the city, and the most memorable one was a full moon kayaking tour at the Eastern Mangroves. Even though I was almost run over by a ship because it was my first time kayaking and I fell behind the group, I had so much fun that night. After thirty minutes, we got off our kayaks and had a picnic with karak tea and snacks on a small island in the mangroves.
Photo Credits to Miriam Delgado
Beach in front of the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai, you can walk around the area for free, there are some cafes and carnival games
One of my favorite ways to take a break from studying for hours on end is to go for a picnic at the beach. You can pay to spend a long day lying under the sun at Soul Beach in Mamsha Al Saadiyat or visit the public beach in the Abu Dhabi Corniche. To get to Mamsha, you can get a bike through the bike rental program that NYUAD has and bike there. Otherwise, if you’re on Corniche, you can rent a Careem bike.
Photo Credits to Miriam Delgado
Kayak Rental at Reem Central Park
Sussanne Niemman, Class of 2023, is an expert on Abu Dhabi’s parks. She recommended going to the park next to the Louvre for picnics. “You can cycle around and you get a very nice view of the sunsets,” she mentioned. She also suggested going between October and April when the weather is fresher. Some of her other recommendations include the Lake Park close to the WTC and the Heritage Park that is in front of the Youth Hub where you can relax after a study session. Susanne also shared with me that she enjoys taking the 170 Bus to stop by a bakery for some fresh bread before going to Umm Al Emarat Park. In addition to this, you can go for an early morning kayak trip to Reem Central Park.
Photo Credits to Miriam Delgado
Abu Dhabi Desert
When I moved to the UAE, I discovered the beauty of the desert. While it may be difficult to go if you don’t drive or have friends who drive, NYUAD actually organizes some trips to go. In fact, during the Spring 2022 semester, I went twice as part of these university-organized trips. I haven’t had the chance yet to secure a spot on one of the overnight stargazing trips that NYUAD also organizes, but I highly recommend staying attentive to these opportunities. A fun anecdote is that last May, I went dune-bashing in the Dubai desert with my two seventy-year-old aunts who were visiting, and even though I was panicking more than them, it ended up being a hilarious memory. Also, I’d like to clarify that this was their idea.
Photo Credits to Miriam Delgado
Trip to Ras-Al-Khaimah organized by the Community Outreach department
When it comes to experiences beyond Abu Dhabi, Susanne and I recommend going to the Al Ain Oasis, that you can reach by taking a bus from the Abu Dhabi central bus station. You can even go in May since the palm trees keep the place fresh and you will be walking under their shade. Additionally, thanks to my on-campus job with the Community Outreach Department, I had the chance to have an overnight trip to Ras-Al-Khaimah, in which we visited a pearl farm and admired the beautiful mountains that distinguish this part of the country.
Photo Credits to Miriam Delgado
Al Ain Oasis
My recommendations are those of a not very adventurous city person who has had the best time being more in touch with nature mostly in Abu Dhabi and who enjoys the simple things in life. Hopefully next time I can share camping sites, beaches from other Emirates, and stories about demanding hikes. Finally, I’d like to appreciate the UAE for being a second home where I can safely run, kayak, bike, swim, travel, eat, take the bus, and so much more.
Miriam Delgado is a Columnist and Staff Writer. Email them at
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