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MAY 2018


What is the story behind the ancient tree and “Zayed”?


UPCOMING EVENTS IN MAY 2018 A free space for the wonders of light and lens, that we leave up to the visitors’ and webpage surfers’ creativity. Share your picture with us, and let it speak for you.

Abu Dhabi

Please send the photographs to

UNTIL 09 JUN Zayed: Story of a Nation Manarat Al Saadiyat

15 MAY - 17 JUN Year of Zayed Photographic Exhibition The Galleria

15 MAY - 13 JUN The Month of Blessings Bawabat al Sharq Mall

20 MAY - 04 JUN 13th Ramadan Festival Abu Dhabi National Theatre

24 MAY - 25 MAY Ramadan Caravan at Al Seef Mall Do they whisper and share secrets devotedly as brothers do? Or conspire against our visitors who spent an hour trying to capture this family moment? Whatever their intentions, our visitor has succeeded in using his creative talent to approach and save this memory forever. Taken by Visitor: Umair Shah Zad

The Walk at Al Seef Resort and Spa by Andalus

Al Ain UNTIL 14 JUN Lines and Stitches Al Qattara Arts Centre

2 | ZooLife, Al Ain Zoo | May 2018

OUR TEAM Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre Environmental Library A team of professionals who value knowledge, and confident with an audience, Samira Fadel and Rashed Al Salemy gather and collate information, organizing it carefully to the highest international standards, and present their result in an electronic format to facilitate the search and retrieval of it. Samira and Rashed are the mediator between the book and its reader. They are the experts who help the reader access the information they are looking for quickly, an employee or a visitor be it. When you see them working

passionately, it reflects the progress made by Emirati nationals. They are a team who happily work hard to run the largest environmental library in the UAE. They are expert librarians who employ the science of collecting, describing, preserving, retrieving and promoting information. When you visit the Research Centre, perhaps confused about where to start, the staff warmly welcomes you and walk you through the aisles and shelving

units to show you all environment related materials. They will diligently explain the regulations and instructions. They will work especially hard to search for the title or the topic you want. Their duties range from helping The Research Centre was officially launched on November 23, 2016, as a result of cooperation with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi. researchers find a book about the Arabian Oryx or Palm Trees, or the definition of desertification, while at other times they motivate fellow employees and visitors alike, encouraging them to read, choosing the reader of the month among many other tasks. They also promote the role of the Centre in helping employees to develop their skills effectively, creating programs and services for visitors; supported by their extensive knowledge and collection of data. We salute these two who have been able to reach their goals and thus, mastered their positions. Samira Fadel has 16 years of experience in libraries and Rashed Al Salemy, has spent almost four years developing his librarianship skills. It’s a team which is very dedicated to its work, very patient and prompt with serving the public.

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My Story

The Ancient Ghaf Tree I never imagined I would live to this age. I have been living here for many years. The children used to fear me, and I do not recall any poet praising me. Still, I never turned away those who asked for my help, and I love being a part of the memories of my people. Not only did I tolerate the summer heat without complaint, but I also gave everything I had to meet the needs of mothers, patients who came to me, and even the animals that resorted to me. I have always offered water, despite the dryness of land. After the discovery of oil, my people stopped visiting me as they were amazed by the tall buildings and machinery that prepared delicious food. Away from the shade of my leaves, they sought shade under umbrellas that did not look like my branches. It did not end here; their discarded rubbish made its way to me, and

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I even saw them planting colorful flowers in gardens, far away from me. I knew then that my life had come to an end. I imagined that everyone would forget me and my benefits... except Zayed.

“Cutting Down Ghaf Trees is forbidden in UAE” This headline brought celebrations of joyous gratitude to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He understood the vital part the almost forgotten Ghaf tree played in the history of the UAE. He rightfully deserves the title of the First Man of the Environment. And so, here I am, at Al Ain Zoo, getting older still, but here I’m surrounded by love and care. From time to time, I witness many campaigns to plant more like me and many lessons for the beloved students to educate them about my benefits. Thank you “Zayed”.

The Ghaf tree is closely associated with the Emirati traditional and environmental heritage. Those who lived in the desert depended primarily on it because of its variety of characteristics which made it an important source of food, medicine, shade, fuel and house-building materials. Ghaf trees have great ability to adapt to the desert environment. They can live past a 100 years of age and can grow to a height of 25 meters and have roots that can extend to 30 meters undreground to obtain moisture. The Ghaf tree’s name changes according to the stage of growth it is in; during its very early stage, it is called the “Al-Hudaib”, then “Nashwa”, “Ouda”, and finally the “Ghaf”. A group of Ghaf trees is called “A’ouda” or “kayla”. ZooLife, Al Ain Zoo | May 2018 | 5

the observer


You are Invited to Feed the Penguins On a recent beautiful morning, we decided to try an amazing new experience where you meet and feed the penguins.

3D Projection Mapping Light Up Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre

25 - 31 Mar

Our Penguins eat twice daily at 10:00 am and 02:00 pm, and each consumes around 600 gm of fish daily. We started our journey down a winding road, which already gives you a bit of an adventurous feeling: How are we going to feed the penguins? Have penguins been able to adapt to our desert environment? I wonder what this experience will be like?

Al Ain Safari

The guide escorted us in a visitor’s transport vehicle and told us about our 30 to 45 minute journey. We passed some Dama gazelle, Al Sharia area, the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre and

Education To u


the surrounding desert area which includes five species of endangered animals. We also passed by several animal exhibits, such as lemur, cheetah, ostrich, and the Flamingo lake, where we took many beautiful photographs. We also drove passed the Arabian Oryx and the Children’s Zoo, before finally stopping at the Bird House where the penguins were waiting for us. Once inside the Bird House, we saw a variety of rare species of birds including some endangered ones, and learned of their breeding programs at Al Ain Zoo. The Penguin’s average speed in water is about 15 miles per hour. Finally, the moment we had been waiting for had arrived as the keeper took us to the area of the

exhibit where we would experience penguin feeding. He gave us security and safety instructions, including that we had to remain calm, and that sterilizing and washing hands was vital. The penguin spends about 75% of his time underwater, looking for food in the ocean. We were so surprised to see many penguins in their typical choreographed form running at us with great eagerness to be fed the fish we had been provided. We were amazed by their wing-like arms and their apparent cheerfulness while running around us, almost as if they were skiing. Our experience came to an end and we left the Bird House happily unable to get the picture of jumping penguin out of our heads.

Penguins Feeding will resume after Ramadan

Spring Camp “Explore & Innovate”

25 Mar - 5 Apr


d Smart Service

Future Vision an 6 | ZooLife, Al Ain Zoo | May 2018

14 May

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Animal life

Flamingos... and their love for open beaches

The Flamingo is one of the most recognisable and beautiful birds in the world. It can be found on the banks or in the shallow waters of lakes, preening its feathers and moving its stickthin legs to perform graceful movements. Flamingos can fly at speeds of up to 35 mph. They can easily be identified by their long legs, hooked beak, pink feathers and arched neck, which make them one of the most beautiful birds in the world. The young are born with brown or gray feathers which gradually turn to pink, depending on their diet. The first flamingo was located in the Basel Park in Switzerland in 1958 and was called the Chilean Flamingo and many were reproduced inside the park and distributed to the zoos around the world for breeding and reproducing. Habitat Flamingos live in the temperate regions of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay in addition to Peru and Uruguay. Features This bird is characterized by its gray feathers that turn pink or red after maturity, as aquatic bacteria and its diet (which contains a lot of beta-carotene), turns them a beautiful color. The more a Flamingo eats, the richer and darker the shade of pink will be.

insects, crustaceans, and small fish.


Hook-shaped Beak Flamingos use their beaks to separate food from mud and silt. They stand in shallow water, submerging their head underwater and use their beak upside-down, moving their head from side to side in order to sift through the soil. Flamingos protect their young for up to six years, until maturity. Characteristics Flamingos are very social birds; they live in colonies whose population can number in the thousands. These large colonies are believed to serve three purposes: avoiding predators, maximizing food intake, and using scarce nesting sites more efficiently. There are six species of Flamingo, each inhabiting a different area of the world. They usually stand on one leg while the other is tucked beneath its body. The reason behind this is not fully understood, but some believe that Flamingos have the ability to relax half of their body by sleeping while the other half is awake. Recent research suggests that Flamingos stand on one leg to help keep warm while standing for long periods in cold water. The Greater Flamingo is the tallest of the six different species of flamingos, standing at 3.9 to 4.7 feet with a weight up to 7.7 pounds, and the shortest flamingo species (the lesser) has a height of 2.6 feet and weighs 5.5 pounds. Flamingos can have a wingspan as small as 37 inches to as big as 59 inches.

Food It feeds on artemia, also known as brine shrimp, red, green and blue algae, and occasional larvae, 8 | ZooLife, Al Ain Zoo | May 2018

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Most of his titles came from outside the UAE. The title of “Zayed Al Khair” came from Egypt in recognition of the humanitarian aid he had provided during the crises conditions experienced in Egypt. The most famous saying of the Late Sheikh Zayed during the 1973 war was: “Arab oil is not dearer than Arab blood.” 10 | ZooLife, Al Ain Zoo | May 2018

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Instagraming Click here to view the video!


People of the Desert Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre Series A golden desert, pearl in a deep ocean, green oasis and dates and a story of existence in which its chapters are about the survival of the Emirati people. This is the story of the “People of the Desert” Gallery. The second gallery from the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre series takes you through a trilogy of sustainable lifestyle. The “People of the Desert” gallery presents a real-life model of the reality which our ancestors experienced hundreds of years before the discovery of oil, when they only used natural resources in the various aspects of their lives. The gallery has three environments that helped create the different lifestyles in Abu Dhabi: the desert, the oasis, and the coast.

alainzoouae Our Conservation team have started a bird survey, and saw one of the rarest birds that was first recorded in 1998 in the UAE. Watch the full video and learn more about these amazing species on our YouTube channel. Happy World Migratory Bird Day!


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Its fruit, the famous Arabian date, is a good source of energy and nutrients in both the winter and summer months. It was even used as a currency by our ancestors. When stored, dates form delicious molasses and its seeds are roasted, ground up to make a cup of coffee with a distinctive taste. Its leaves are used for healing, as well as a relaxing shelter for those who are looking for shade in the summer heat. As you walk through the gallery, you will enjoy educational and interactive displays as well as a virtual trip through the desert life where our ancestors lived, always

in search of ways to fulfil their essential needs. You will see stereographic pictures of the palm trees, the water wells, camels, and the tools which were used to help the people survive in these different environments. You will be able to listen to the sounds of nature, and watch films depicting the stories of life in ancient times, traveling through a life of struggle yet a life which was filled with happiness and satisfaction, interdependence and integration, a life that has always remained a strong, cohesive society.

In the gallery, visitors will see how inhabitants of the three environments co-existed, the harmony between them and the wealth of each environment. It presents an example of Emirati wisdom and the integration between the people and their environment. You will see people’s ability to find common ground and how to benefit from the wealth of nature according to their individual needs. For example, when you visit the oasis gallery, you will learn about the wealth of the humble palm tree and its uses: in building houses, boats, irrigation tools, fishing, furniture and people’s daily needs. ZooLife, Al Ain Zoo | May 2018 | 13

Our Experts Despite her varied learning experiences and a rather unique Master’s thesis, she took control of her creativity and made sports her main target.

Hessa Al Qemzi “I am Purple-Blooded”

We sit and chat every day, I see her so wrapped up in her work. Despite her calmness and peacefulness, she would start a debate purely for the sake of standing up for her idea, whether it be a slogan or a video that she worked hard to design and create. We’ve been colleagues for almost two years now and still I get to know her more and more every day. Hessa Abdullah Al Qemzi jumps between photography, design and sports tourism, and has turned out to be a skillful writer. Before she began her journey of creativity at Al Ain Zoo, she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Information Management and Master of Arts in Cultural and Tourism Communications with a thesis entitled, “Football and its Impact on Tourism in the UAE”, and represented her country at the 1st Sport Tourism Conference in 2015 in Slovenia with a paper entitled, “Identity and Sports Brands”. Her graphic designs were chosen by Nasser Bin Hamad Award for Young Creativity in Bahrain, and she ranked in third place in the graphic design category in 2014. Last but not least, she has a huge passion for Al Ain Football Club and hence the purple blood statement.

and economic engine. Sports have an identity that leaves its mark in the heart of people who love it, more so the most popular game in the world, football. It is popular and loved by all cultures and classes; hence, it is my language and a culture that I have mastered.”

concluded that an animal’s reactions are unpredictable, even if it is your own pet, they express feelings differently in a way that makes you handle them with caution.”

And proudly she says, “Al Ain football club for itself, riding high among other teams. Al Ain Club is the most powerful football team on the level of local, Arab and Asian football, the most crowned in UAE and has the most honorary titles, and has won many trophies and cups, such as The Local League, the UAE President’s Cup, The UAE Super Cup, The FA Cup, The Arabian Gulf Cup and the GCC Champions League, and the UEFA Champions League 2003. That makes it the first and the only club in the region to win the title.”

“I had different unpleasant experiences with animals throughout the years; chased by a camel which got irritated from the flash of my camera, I was bitten by a dog when I was one year old, which gave me a phobia that is still with me to this day. I was attacked by a chicken with its sharp beak while it was protecting its chicks, and finally, I was lucky to be able to flee quietly from a fox that was about to attack me!”

I hear you have a cat, you work in an institution where animals are its main concern, and you’re also afraid of animals!! How is that? “This fear goes back to a very old stories: I’m afraid of being bitten, stung, attacked, or getting sudden agitations. But Diego is my cat, who I’ve been taking care of since his birth, and has become my best friend ever since. Throughout the seven years he has spent with me, I

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What about Al Ain Zoo? “You won’t believe me if I said that I’ve always wanted to work at Al Ain Zoo. I’ve always loved this place but it never came to my mind that I would actually get the chance to work here. It’s a beautiful world of creativity and magic. Only a few people can see the magic of how beautiful this place is with its mixture of plants, animals, and human beings. I consider myself truly lucky to feel this magic.” When did you start working here? “I was hired in 2012. My first visit to

What’s the story behind blending graphics, photography, design and sports articles which are published in some of the newspapers? “I started working here as a Graphic Designer, then, due to business needs, I moved to photography and then multimedia. All of the latter are concerned with creativity and visual arts. As for writing, it’s my passion that I indulge in whenever I feel the need to enjoy it.” How do you find beauty in photography? “A picture is a poem that consists of verses for the eyes and soul, waiting for a good poet to express it to unleash its true beauty. The photographer can turn a boring scene into a beautiful one, but I find beauty in children and architecture. However, one of the best moments I have enjoyed is when I was watching them releasing the rhino at Al Ain Safari, it is an amazing animal that pushes you to explore it with your camera.” Let’s talk about your Master’s thesis “It was about football and its impact on tourism in the UAE, and how we can make good use of social media platforms to promote this popular sport. Football is considered the “product” and the audience is the “client”, and we have to build a good relationship between them.”

I ask her for the story behind this somewhat bizarre Tweet. She answered proudly “I am a huge supporter of Al Ain football team, it has been in my blood since I was a little girl. I’m the one who invented, “I‘m Purple-Blooded” as a reflection of love and sincerity regarding the team, and thus it spread among Al Ain football clup very quickly through many social media platforms.” She said, “Sports is not just a game, on the contrary, sports is a very important cultural, touristic, social

We’re all afraid of getting bitten, stung, or attacked, aren’t we?

the Zoo was in 1993 and then again in 2008 when I noticed the huge difference and great transformations occurring here that implies the greatness of human resources.”

Hessa Al Qemzi’s fascinating interview came to a close having taken us on a beautiful journey exploring her beautiful character. Diego ZooLife, Al Ain Zoo | May 2018 | 15


Draw me!

Who am


What’s a slender animal with white fur that reflects the sun, and beautiful eyes that poets admired? Did you know that I am pink from the food I eat!

Fill in the grid with numbers 1 to 5 without repeating it on the same line diagonally, horizontally or vertically!

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April Edition Question

What endangered species was the reason behind the establishment of Al Ain Zoo?

Sustainable Windows

How big is our Safari, which is considered the first man-made safari in the world? 217 hectares

Send your answers to and see if you got the right answers! The windows of The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre (SZDLC) were designed in an innovative way which creates a balance between creativity in architecture and a commitment to sustainability standards. The precisely shaped windows surround the building on all sides with the larger ones located to the eastern and northern facades of SZDLC and the smaller ones on the western and southern facades. The windows were designed on a tilted slant, in harmony with the tilted walls of the building, in order to prevent the sun falling vertically on them to increase the amount of light entering the building. The windows were specially designed in order to diffuse the extreme heat of the sun in a creative way. The penetrating natural light illuminates the centre during the day and significantly reduces the consumption of electricity. The function of the windows is additionally characterized by their ability to automatically open in case of fire, in order to get rid of the smoke and toxic gases from the building.

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Set and achieve your goals in order to enjoy your life and learn more about yourself. Set your targets, stick to them, and keep reminding yourself that you will to able to

achieve them. For example: Write down your most

important goals on a piece of paper, and stick it on the inside of your

bedroom door or on your personal computer. This way you will to

see it every

day and it will serve as a reminder. ZooLife, Al Ain Zoo | May 2018 | 19

Zoolife May edition - Insights from Al Ain Zoo  
Zoolife May edition - Insights from Al Ain Zoo