This UAE Village Could Be The Hottest New Eco-Tourism Getaway

A holding company in the United Arab Emirates is developing Hatta into a national park and eco-tourism destination.


May 31 2019, Updated 2:47 p.m. ET

Nestled along the Hajar Mountains, Hatta is a historic community roughly 100 miles east of Dubai. The gorgeous UAE exclave has been attracting adventure lovers for ages, and now, the holding company Meraas is aiming to develop it into a “leading eco-tourism destination” and national park.

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Lonely Planet reports that Meraas is aiming to attract new visitors to the area over the next decade through a series of splashy projects. One involves mimicking the world-famous Hollywood sign by spelling “Hatta” out in enormous letters over the mountains. An adventure center, which will help tourists find tour guides and learn more about the history and traditions of Hatta, is also in the works.

Lodging will play a huge role in the development, as Meraas plans to construct lodges “with distinctive architecture style” and breathtaking views over different parts of the mountains. The company is also touting a “first-of-its-kind trailer luxury hotel” that would utilize trailers as individual hotel rooms. They would be located right on the banks of the Hatta dam, where tourists can already rent kayaks and paddleboats to take onto the sparkling green waters.

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“We want these projects to be a source of pride for the people of Hatta and help in attracting visitors from around the world,” Abdulla Al Habbai, the group chairman of Meraas, said in a statement

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Through our projects, we aim to play an important role in terms of education and raising awareness, as we introduce Hatta as a national park where visitors can experience nature and explore its landmarks and find out more about authentic Emirati culture.”

Meraas says it will help preserve those landmarks and nature through “increased efforts in conservation and forestation as well as plans to enrich wildlife, support farming, and preserve water resources,” according to the statement. The company is hoping to signal these intentions in the brand new Hatta logo, which features the local mountains and reservoir, along with native plant and animal species. 

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Those native plants include the Samar tree, a species with a wide canopy that thrives in the desert, providing food to grazing wildlife and medicinal ingredients to locals. As for animals, the logo includes an illustration of the Arabian oryx, an antelope that nearly went extinct in the 1970s. It took considerable effort from zoos and conservation groups to rescue and reintroduce this oryx into the wild, where it now roams as a vulnerable — but not endangered — species.

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The area is already well-positioned for a tourism boom, thanks to a recent project designed with hikers in mind. Last year, UAE government officials unveiled a new five mile trail through Hatta which winds through the historic village, past parks and multiple farms, ending at the Hatta Dam. The so-called Hatta Hiking Project includes plans for three more trails, these ones originating at the dam.

Hopefully, this new tourism push from Meraas will encourage visitors to enjoy the beautiful, mountainous region of Hatta — and work hard to protect it.

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