Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi (CNN) — Drive about an hour southeast of the town of Abu Dhabi towards the emirate’s empty deserts and you may encounter a panorama teeming with sudden man-made creations.
The Al Wathba area is house to a gorgeous, oasis-like wetland reserve that’s stated to have been created by an overflow from a water therapy plant. Now it is a lush web site that pulls flocks of migrating flamingos.
Additional alongside the streets lined with fastidiously planted timber, the surreal sight of a synthetic mountain rises on the horizon, its flanks supported by gigantic concrete partitions.
And exit the primary streets into the again lanes, you may discover vast and dusty Camel Highways the place, in cooler night temperatures, huge fleets of the hunchbacked beasts are educated in preparation for the winter racing season.
However certainly one of Al Wathba’s extra uncommon and stylish points of interest isn’t the work of man. As an alternative, it was created over tens of hundreds of years by elemental forces that, whereas at play millennia in the past, provide a glimpse of how the present local weather disaster may remodel our world.
Abu Dhabi’s fossil dunes rise from the encircling desert like frozen waves in an enormous ocean of agency sand, their sides rippling with shapes outlined by offended winds.
The fossil dunes had been fashioned over hundreds of years.
Although these proud geological relics have survived for hundreds of years in the course of nowhere, they opened as a free vacationer attraction in Abu Dhabi in 2022 as a part of the emirate’s environmental company’s effort to preserve them in a protected space.
Whereas Instagrammers and different guests as soon as wanted ATVs to drive to the fossil dunes in the hunt for a dramatic selfie backdrop, they now have a alternative of two massive automobile parks reserving a path that meanders previous a number of the extra spectacular sights.
There are informative signposts alongside the best way that present some fundamental details about the science behind the formation of the dunes – basically moisture within the soil brought about calcium carbonate within the sand to harden, then excessive winds scraped them into uncommon shapes over time.
However there’s much more to it, says Thomas Steuber, a professor within the Earth Science Division at Khalifa College of Science and Expertise in Abu Dhabi, who has spent a lot of the Covid lockdown learning the dunes whereas not touring to different areas of geological curiosity may journey .
“It is a fairly advanced story,” Steuber advised CNN.
The dunes are only a stone’s throw away from a Wetland Reserve, Abu Dhabi’s premier conservation space.
Steuber says that generations of dunes had been created by cycles of ice ages and thaws that occurred between 200,000 and seven,000 years in the past. Sea ranges dropped as frozen water elevated on the polar ice caps, and dunes would have fashioned throughout these dry spells as sand was blown in from the drained Arabian Gulf.
Because the ice melted, leading to a wetter surroundings, the water desk in present-day Abu Dhabi rose and the moisture reacted with the calcium carbonate within the sand to stabilize it, then fashioned a sort of cement that was later aetherified by prevailing varieties winch.
Energy traces run behind the dunes, including one other dimension to the surroundings.
“The Arabian Gulf is a small basin that could be very shallow,” says Steuber. “It is solely about 120 meters deep, so on the peak of the ice age about 20,000 years in the past, there was a lot piled up on the polar caps that the ocean lacked water as a supply of fabric for the fossil dunes.”
Steuber says the fossil dunes, that are discovered within the United Arab Emirates and are additionally present in India, Saudi Arabia and the Bahamas, possible took hundreds of years to kind. However regardless of the official safety Abu Dhabi now gives, the erosion that gave every its distinctive form will finally result in their demise as effectively.
“A few of them are fairly huge, however in the long run the wind will destroy them. They’re basically rocks, however you may generally break them along with your arms. It is a fairly weak materials.”
Due to this, guests to Al Wathba are actually saved a ways from the dunes, though nonetheless shut sufficient to understand their emotionless magnificence.
Touring the location is finest within the early night, when the tough daylight is changed by a golden glow from the setting solar and the sky takes on the purple hues of the magic hour. It takes about an hour to walk down the sand path from the customer heart and present stand to the parking zone on the far finish — and about 10 minutes to take the shortcut again.
The pristine calm of the dunes is contrasted at some factors alongside the path by a series of large pink and white energy poles striding over the horizon within the distance. Quite than spoiling the scene, this technical spectacle provides a dramatic trendy dimension to an in any other case time-frozen panorama.
As nightfall falls, a number of the dunes are illuminated, providing a brand new option to view these geological wonders.
Non secular Notes
At night time the dunes are illuminated.
Ministry of Tradition and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
“The dunes look actually superb,” stated Dean Davis, who visited the location on a time without work in Abu Dhabi Metropolis. “It is good that they’re preserved and the federal government has completed an excellent job.”
Ashar Hafeed, one other customer who was touring along with his household, stated he was additionally impressed. “I noticed it on Google and simply needed to come and test it out,” he stated, including that “as soon as was sufficient” to understand the dunes.
Nevertheless, Stauber and his workforce from Khalifa College are prone to be common visitors.
“We proceed to check them,” he says. “There are nonetheless some fascinating inquiries to be answered about sea stage adjustments over the last ice ages and it is rather vital to know the present geomorphology of the Emirates coast. It’s also clearly an analog for future sea stage adjustments.”
And, Steuber says, the dunes might be proof of the inspiration behind the story of Noah’s Deluge, which seems within the Koran, Bible and Torah, the texts of the three main religions that emerged from the Center East.
“Probably this was the inundation of the Arabian Gulf on the finish of the ice ages, as a result of the ocean stage rose in a short time.
“If the Arabian Gulf had dried out, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers would have flowed into the Indian Ocean, and what the Gulf is at present would have been a reasonably fertile, low-lying space that might have been inhabited 8,000 years in the past and folks might need skilled it this speedy sea stage rise.
“Perhaps it led to a historic reminiscence that made the sacred books of those three native religions.”