June 7, 2023

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Abu Dhabi Fossil Hills

Abu Dhabi Fossil Hills

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – As you drive about an hour southeast of Abu Dhabi into the desert’s desert, you will find a landscape full of unexpected creations.

Al Watba is a beautiful swamp reserve that attracts flocks of migratory flamingos.

On the carefully lined path, your view falls on the surreal base of an artificial mountain on the horizon, the sides of which are supported by giant concrete walls.

Going off the main roads and onto the domestic roads, you will come across wide and dusty camel highways, where when the evening temperatures drop, you will find a great humpbacks training in preparation for the winter racing season.

Fossil dunes have been formed for thousands of years. , Normal writingdebt: Barry Nealt / CNN

One of the extraordinary attractions of the leap is not for humans, it is natural and it took tens of thousands of years to become what it is.

Despite their important role over thousands of years, they provide insights into the climate crisis and the reshaping of our current world.

Abu Dhabi
These unusual shapes in the desert are one of the main landmarks in Al Watba in Abu Dhabi. , Normal writingdebt: Barry Nealt / CNN

The fossil dunes of Abu Dhabi rise from the surrounding desert like frozen waves, and their sides are shaped by high wind directions.

Although these geological monuments have survived for centuries in the Middle Ages, they opened in Abu Dhabi in 2022 as a free tourism feature, as part of the Emirate’s ecosystem efforts to preserve them within the protected area.

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Along the way, you will find guide boards that provide some basic information about the science behind the formation of the mound.

The moisture of the earth hardened the calcium carbonate in the sand, and over time strong winds adorned it with unusual shapes.

Abu Dhabi
Scientists say the fossil dunes in Abu Dhabi formed 200,000 to 7,000 years ago. , Normal writingdebt: Barry Nealt / CNN

“This is a very complicated story,” Thomas Stepper, a professor of geology at the Caliph University of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, told CNN.

Stepper explained that generations of sand dunes arose as a result of a cycle of ice ages and melting that took place in the region 200,000 to 7,000 years ago.

Ocean level dropped as water ice increased in polar caps. During these dry seasons, sand dunes accumulated as sand flowed from the Persian Gulf.

As the ice melts and creates a humid environment, the water level in Abu Dhabi rises, and the moisture reacts with the calcium carbonate in the sand to stabilize it, forming a type of cement.

They were then converted into denser forms by prevailing winds.

Abu Dhabi
Fossil Dunes opened in Abu Dhabi in 2022 as a free visitor attraction. , plain_textdebt: Barry Nealt / CNN

Fossil dunes found throughout the Emirates, but also in India, Saudi Arabia and the Bahamas may have taken thousands of years to form.

Despite the protection that Abu Dhabi provides, the erosion that each of them has given their unique shape will eventually lead to their destruction.

“Some of them are huge, but eventually the wind will destroy them,” Stepper said. “It’s basically rock, but sometimes you can break it with your hands.

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Therefore, visitors are not currently allowed to approach the sand dunes, however they are kept far enough away from them to enjoy its beauty.

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The dunes are best visited in the evening, when the harsh daylight leads to soft sunset colors and long shadows. , Normal writingdebt: Barry Nealt / CNN

At sunset, when the sky is adorned with beautiful purples, it is best to walk around the site.

The visitor center, souvenir kiosk, takes about an hour to stroll down the sandy road to the parking lot at the other end, and 10 minutes to return via the crossroads.

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The site takes about an hour to fully explore. , Normal writingdebt: Barry Nealt / CNN

While visiting the site during a day off from work in Abu Dhabi, Dean Davis said, “The dunes look amazing.”

Abu Dhabi
After dark, the dunes take on another dimension as they glow. , Normal writingdebt: Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi

Azhar Hafeez, another visitor who toured with his family, said he also enjoys the natural identity.

“I saw it on Google and had to go and see it,” he added, adding that “once is enough” to appreciate the dunes.

Abu Dhabi
Al Watba Wetland Reserve is a wildlife sanctuary that was created by accident after water leaked from a nearby treatment plant. , Normal writingdebt: CNN

“We do not have the answers to some interesting questions about sea level changes during past ice ages, and it is very important to understand the current topography of the coast in the United Arab Emirates,” Siduper explained.

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