Arabian Wildlife Center – UAE’s Only Indoor Sanctuary

When the hotter winds start blowing in the UAE, travelers inside the country put away their walking shoes and hope for the summer months to pass soon so they can head outdoors again.

But the Arabian Wildlife Center doesn’t need winter months for visitors to get outdoors and see wildlife up close because this place is the only indoor zoo in UAE that boasts endangered Arabian wildlife and breeds them. Unlike typical zoos, these animals aren’t constrained to tiny cages. Instead, they are given vast spaces to run around while the center cares for them and tries to increase their declining numbers.

The place also has an added natural history museum, a botanical garden, and a farm (with only the farm being outdoors) making the wildlife center one of the best places to visit in Sharjah and one of the most fun indoor activities in UAE to do during the sweltering heat while basking in the coolness of air conditioning.

The Museum

Starting with one of the most underrated museums in UAE, the museum in the Arabian Wildlife Center is an interactive, fun museum where you can learn about UAE’s interesting past of wildlife and earth.

The museum hosts amazing structures like taxidermy of owls, desert foxes and more, astrology (information about the stars and earth as is important to the Middle East), mineral stones, and oceanology among various other things.

Visitors can play around with some of the exhibits to get an understanding of how the desert and its animals work. The most interesting part of the museum is its greenhouse. This section displays real trees and plants that have been inhabiting the earth since the Jurassic era! And yes, these plants are very real. You can touch the same types of plants that once stood tall when dinosaurs ran free.

Arabia’s Breeding Center

The highlight of this place is the center that hosts and breeds an array of endangered animals in the UAE. This is the only indoor sanctuary where you can see everything from fishes and reptiles to cheetahs and monkeys while basking in the cool indoor AC during the hot summer months.

The Center has a reptile house where you can see all the creepy crawlies from humungous non-venomous and small, stealthy venomous snakes to scorpions and wasps that are exclusively found in the deserts.

The center also has a birdhouse where the winged beauties fly above your heads in an open space. A nocturnal section so dark that will need to widen your pupils’ breeds from bats and badgers to porcupines and foxes.

A small section of the birdhouse in the Arabian Wildlife Center
Photo credit: World of Charms

The place also has an impressive cafe with glass walls surrounding you at 360 degrees. Here, while sipping your cool juices or hot tea, you will be able to see deers, ostriches, flamingos, and oryxes running around in a never-ending space of mountains and deserts. 

If you are lucky, you will be able to witness their feeding time. A large truck full of grass and seeds drives around scattering food, inviting the herds of animals in large groups to snack on their feasts.

The cafe is also a pit stop before seeing animals like cheetahs, wolves, hyenas, baboons, and the lot resting in their natural habitats behind glass walls. Most of the time, they come close enough for you to see them with only the thick glass separating you from their sharp canines.

Botanical Garden

A small greenhouse that’s intended for plant-lovers, the Botanical Garden houses varieties of vegetables and herbs (such as ginger, basil, garlic, pumpkins, cucumbers, eggplants, etc) inside the building. In the cooler months, the outside is great to explore the beautifully decorated garden with an array of flowers and a large green space to walk around.

The Farm

A baby goat feeding on a leaf at the Arabian Wildlife Center
Photo credit: At World’s Origins

Before the wildlife center comes into view, a small section called “the farm” is comfortably tucked into a corner. The farm, just like its name, is where you can see animals that are typically taken care of in UAE farms. Donkeys, goats, camels, and cows stay behind sheds where visitors are allowed to feed them. These animals are human friendly and people’s faces are not so strange to them.

Information about the center:

Entrance fees: 20 dhs per person for adults. Children under 5 has free entry. The entry fee covers access to all venues.

Timings: The center opens from 2pm – 6pm. Make sure you aren’t late so you can cover everything on time. If you arrive late, head to the museum first as they close on the dot.

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