Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed: A keen environmentalist and wildlife conservationist

He had led significant conservation efforts to protect the falcon, houbara bustard and Arabian oryx


Nasreen Abdulla

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Published: Sat 14 May 2022, 5:09 PM

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has been a champion of environmental issues and is expected to lead the region and the world towards saving our precious world and making sustainability a way of life, as seen from his policies and personal perspective.

Sheikh Mohamed was instrumental in establishing the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, and has led significant conservation efforts to protect the falcon, houbara bustard and Arabian oryx in the UAE and internationally.

In January 2008, His Highness announced that the Abu Dhabi Government would contribute $15 billion to Masdar, the global standard-setting alternative and renewable energy initiative based in Abu Dhabi and developer of the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city.

Mohammed Bin Zayed Conservation Fund

He initiated the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, an innovative philanthropy providing small grants to boots-on-the-ground, get-your-hands-dirty and in-the-field species conservation projects for the world’s most threatened species.

Through innovative micro-financing, the Fund empowers conservationists to fight the extinction crisis without getting bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape. To date it has awarded over 2000 grants to a diverse range of species across the world.

The fund has opened its platform to support conservationists based in all parts of the world and will potentially aid projects focused on any and all kinds of plant, animal and fungus species, subject to the approval of an independent evaluation committee.

In addition, it recognises leaders in the field of species conservation and scientific research to ensure their important work is given the attention it deserves and to elevate the importance of species in global conservation discourse.

In 2019, the fund supported 170 projects selected from 1,647 grant applications. The selected projects, located in over 60 different countries across six continents, shared $1,502,029 in funding.

Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor, entered a three-year partnership with the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (to support conservation initiatives worldwide. Through the partnership, Mubadala Investment Company will provide the MBZ Fund with $1.5 million annually to be directed towards supporting endangered flora and fauna in Africa and Asia; particularly in countries where Mubadala Investment Company has portfolio companies, including Guinea and Indonesia, and Thailand – representing some of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

Arabian Oryx reintroduction programme

The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan issued his directives to establish programmes to protect the Arabian Oryx, such as breeding and protecting the wild animals from extinction, whilst reintroducing them back into their natural habitat.

Following this, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, launched a similar programme in 2007, which is part of the Abu Dhabi government’s vision to create a regional herd that reflects all programmes for the resettlement of the Arabian Oryx in their range countries.


The Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme has played a pivotal role in protecting the Arabian Oryx, preserving it from extinction and enhancing its numbers in the wild. This changed its status in 2011 on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable to extinction. This is considered as one of the most important achievements in the field of the reintroduction of species on a global level.

In 2020, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD, the agency in coordination with Al Dhafra Municipality, released a new group of Arabian Oryx into the Houbara Protected Area. Located in Baynunah, the Houbara Protected Area is managed by EAD and extends over 774 square kilometres.

More than 800 Arabian Oryx live freely within the reserve’s borders. In addition, groups of Arabian Oryx were also released in Qasr Al Sarab Protected Area.

The UAE hosts more than 10,000 Arabian Oryx, 5,000 of which can be found in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi alone, which is the largest group of Arabian Oryx in the world.

The programme extends to Oman and Jordan, where hundreds of Arabian Oryx were released within their natural and historical range countries.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between EAD and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature laid ground for a project to develop a vital herd of Arabian Oryx within the Shumari Wildlife Reserve - Jordan. A total of 60 heads of Arabian Oryx were released into the Shumari Wildlife Reserve.

The Houbara Protected Area was established in 2008 to protect the natural habitats suitable for breeding Houbara bustard. The reserve embraces many important animal and plant species locally and internationally. This also includes the project to protect migratory Houbara bustards from extinction.

More news from