Abu Dhabi workers treated like slaves


This video is called The dark side of Abu Dhabi‘s cultural revolution.

It says about itself:

21 Dec 2013

Glenn Carrick visits the exclusive Saadiyat island, where the Guggenheim and the Louvre museums are preparing to open stunning new premises — built by workers sometimes earning less than £100 per month.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Modern-day slavery

Conditions for Abu Dhabi’s migrant workers ‘shame the west’

Calls for urgent labour reform after Observer reveals construction workers face destitution, internment and deportation

David Batty

Sunday 22 December 2013

Trade unions, human rights activists and politicians have called for urgent labour reforms to protect the thousands of migrant workers building a complex of five-star hotels and museums on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates, including a new Louvre and the world’s largest Guggenheim.

The International Trade Union Confederation and art activism group Gulf Labor have urged the western institutions involved in the project, including the British Museum, to take active steps to address the workers’ welfare and press the UAE government to improve their conditions.

The investigation reveals that:

■ Companies are withholding the passports of migrant workers, trapping them in the UAE.

■ Thousands of workers are living in substandard or squalid conditions elsewhere in the UAE in apparent breach of the TDIC’s pledge to house them all in its model Saadiyat accommodation village.

■ Dozens of workers were deported this year for striking over pay and conditions.

■ Workers decorating the university live in squalid conditions, with 10 men to a room, no free healthcare and some trapped because they have to pay back huge recruitment fees.

■ Mobile-phone video footage of a riot at the SAV in August shows dozens of men roaming the camp armed with metal spears and planks spiked with nails. Men are seen jumping out of windows to avoid the conflict.

■ A worker who claims he lost his leg while building luxury villas has been forced to live on the top floor of a migrant camp for a year. He only received a prosthetic leg last month and has been reliant on the Red Crescent for medical support. His claim for compensation and request for ground-floor accommodation have been rejected.

■ Louvre workers are having to work for nine months to a year just to pay back their recruitment fees. One worker who went on strike over poor wages was kept in his camp unpaid for three months and then sent back to Pakistan with 19 others.

The European council held a meeting on 4 December to discuss the growing concern about migrant workers’ rights in the UAE and its neighbour, Qatar. The chair of the European parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, German MEP Barbara Lochbihler, said migrant workers in the UAE, including those on Saadiyat Island, were exploited “on a daily basis”.

She said: “Minimum labour standards are not respected, there are systematic complaints about poor accommodation and sanitation, salaries and medical services are withheld, and both experts and the migrants themselves report excessive police force and situations of forced labour. This is unacceptable.

“I therefore call on the UAE government, but also on all companies involved in the Saadiyat project – including [the] Louvre, British Museum and Guggenheim – to ensure that any form of mistreatment is addressed and that all migrants can fully enjoy their human rights.”

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said the organisation was “deeply concerned by the abuses of workers’ rights on Saadiyat island”.

The findings reflected that labour abuses were a systemic problem in the UAE, with migrant workers suffering “extreme exploitation”, including unpaid wages and excessively long working hours, she added.

Although the UAE is a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) it has not ratified the UN body’s convention on freedom of association, which allows for industrial action. Burrow also warned the international institutions involved in the Saadiyat project that they shared responsibility for the workers’ welfare. She said: “Clearly their reputations are at risk. International institutions need to be aware that if they associate their name with developments they must insist on full respect for ILO standards.”

Azfar Khan, migrant specialist at the ILO, said the body was aware of the situation on Saadiyat, said although the UAE had not ratified the specific convention on strike action, it was still potentially in breach of the ILO’s rules. “Even if countries have not ratified the convention they are obligated by the ILO’s constitution that as member states they will not go against the article of the convention.”

Nicholas McGeehan, Gulf researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “These revelations should be a reality check for anyone who has been fooled into believing that the UAE is making progress on migrant workers’ rights and they should anger the high-profile institutions who have set up on Saadiyat.”

Gulf Labor, a coalition of international artists which is mounting a year-long protest against the mistreatment and exploitation of migrant workers on Saadiyat, said the findings should shame the western institutions involved.

British artist Guy Mannes-Abbott said: “The Guggenheim’s image is certainly soiled. The Louvre banks millions of dollars every year for use of their ‘brand’, while its new museum is being built by what Human Rights Watch describes as ‘forced labour’. The British Museum’s role has so far escaped notice, but it should consider gifting or returning items that they will be stuffing the Sheikh Zayed National Museum with on lucrative loan agreements.”

A Guggenheim spokeswoman denied that its brand had been tarnished. “We visit the workers’ village each time we are in Abu Dhabi. We are satisfied with the conditions observed.”

She said the museum’s director, Richard Armstrong, had raised the issue of workers’ rights and conditions in his most recent meeting with the TDIC last week and would continue to do so. The museum would not be discussing details of the meetings with the media as this was “a matter of cultural diplomacy,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the Louvre said that, under the terms of the deal between the French and UAE governments, the TDIC held responsibility for construction and working conditions. She added that the French authorities were “particularly attentive” to social conditions on Saadiyat and would continue efforts to ensure they met high standards.

The Observer understands that the British Museum held an emergency meeting about the situation on Saadiyat to deal with adverse publicity. Attending staff were warned not to speak to the press. A spokeswoman said they would continue to review workers’ rights in their regular meetings with the TDIC.

A TDIC spokesman refused to comment to the Observer. The second annual audit of worker welfare for the company by PricewaterhouseCoopers is due to be published on Sunday. Construction firms Al Jaber and Arabtec also failed to respond to inquiries.

An NYU spokesman said the university and its Abu Dhabi partners “have put into place a methodical monitoring, compliance, and enforcement system”.

Chinese women wrongly convicted for prostitution and set to be deported from Abu Dhabi after policeman saw one of them hug a male friend and assumed she was a sex worker. Read more: here.

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Good flamingo news from Abu Dhabi


After the horrible news from the United Arab Emirates about jailing raped women, oppressing oppositionists, etc., now some good news.

This video says about itself:

Jul 10, 2011

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi captures and tracks its 15th Flamingo as part of ongoing conservation efforts.

From Wildlife Extra:

Greater flamingos have best year for breeding yet in Abu Dhabi

Flamingos breeding at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

July 2013. The Greater flamingo has successfully bred once again at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi. Around 200 chicks were born in the last six weeks – the highest number recorded since the species first returned to the Reserve to breed back in 2011 and experts say it is an indication of improved conditions for birds to breed, according to The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).

The first chicks hatched on June 1, 2013 and by July 16, a total of 201 chicks had been observed. These numbers are significantly higher than the 39 chicks born during the last breeding season in 2012-2013. Today, around 2,000 Greater flamingos can be spotted residing in Al Wathba, with a high percentage of these being adult breeding birds.

“The breeding is a result of sustained efforts to improve habitat conditions and management in the Reserve. This record further enhances Al Wathba’s status as a key bird site,” said Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.

“The landscape around Al Wathba has changed considerably over the past decade and we are making sure that the necessary resources are allocated to the Reserve to ensure its proper protection. Protecting such an area is crucial in the preservation of Abu Dhabi’s biodiversity,” she added.

Flamingos successfully bred for the first time in 1998 at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, and following this successful breeding, the reserve, which lies around 45 minutes’ drive from Abu Dhabi city, was established as a Protected Area by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Reserve also provides a safe refuge for many species of reptiles, small mammals and insects.

EAD undertakes routing monitoring on key elements of the Reserve’s wildlife and runs a successful flamingo tracking programme. By monitoring and tracking this species, EAD was able to acquire valuable data about trends, the number of flamingos which visit the Emirate’s shores as well as the route they travel. EAD also regularly monitors the water quality and Artemia (or brine shrimp) to help ensure a suitable environment for the flamingos to breed throughout the year.

RAMSAR site

In April 2013, the Reserve was recognised internationally and declared as a Ramsar site, the first in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It was recognised for its contribution to the conservation of biological diversity and cemented EAD’s efforts to preserve the UAE’s natural heritage.

The Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is a species with a broad distribution range from the western Mediterranean Basin to Sri Lanka in the north, to South Africa in the south. It is the most common visitor to the UAE and can be observed all year round in lagoons, fresh and salt waters of artificial wetlands, even close to human settlements or activities, such as highways, suburbs, industrial areas, salt pans, sewage ponds.

Status and diurnal behavior of the Greater Flamingo in Algerian eastern high plains: here.

One of the largest colonies of flamingos in Europe is measured and tagged to monitor the evolution of the species at the lagoon in the Fuente de Piedra natural reserve, near Malaga, southern Spain; photos here.

Diversity and distribution of avian lice on Greater Flamingo chicks in Algeria: here.

UAE workers on strike


This video says about itself:

Dubai‘s Dirty Little Secret

Aug 5, 2007

The Middle East’s boomtown is built on the backs of exploited foreign workers.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Dubai workers continue strike into third day

Monday 20 May 2013

by Our Foreign Desk

Thousands of workers employed by Dubai’s largest construction company Arabtec stayed out on strike for a third day to back wage demands today.

It was a rare labour protest in the Gulf emirate where trade unions are banned.

An strikers’ spokesman said that the walkout began on Saturday and the workers were determined not to end it without a pay rise.

“They are upset at the low wages and also about not being paid for overtime work,” one striker said, claiming that workers at his site were only paid between £105 and £124 a month.

“The protest started in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Workers in Dubai have also joined,” he said.

“We have not been working for the past three days,” added one worker from a labour camp in Dubai Investments Park.

“Staff salary was increased but not ours. We want at least a 200 dirham (£35) increase in our salaries,” said the worker, who earns a monthly wage of Dh800 (£143). People have come from the labour court and negotiations are on.”

Most manual workers in Dubai are migrant contract labourers from south Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, and strikes are rare, though not unheard of.

The strike is not the first labour dispute to affect Arabtec. In 2011, 70 workers were arrested on charges of instigating a 3,000-man protest over wage demands.

And in November 2007 around 30,000 Arabtec workers went on a 10-day strike to demand a pay increase.

From GulfNews.com:

Arabtec workers back at work after protest

Thousands were demanding overtime pay and a salary increase

By Bassma Al Jandaly, Senior Reporter

Published: 00:24 May 21, 2013

Dubai: Thousands of workers employed by Dubai’s largest construction firm, Arabtec, who stopped work demanding a salary increase and overtime pay are back at their worksites after being promised their issues will be sorted out.

On Saturday the Arabtec workers in Abu Dhabi stopped work while the company’s Dubai workers joined in on Sunday — also demanding they receive overtime pay and a salary increase.

The workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries stayed in their accommodation.

Blackwater mercenaries, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning


This video says about itself:

Jeremy Scahill: Bradley Manning Revealed Blackwater Founder Erik Prince‘s Escape to Abu Dhabi

Apr 24, 2013

Watch the full interview with Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now! at http://owl.li/knEmh. In his new book, “Dirty Wars: the World is a Battlefield,” Jeremy Scahill charts the expanding covert wars operated by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command from Somalia to Pakistan. “Dirty Wars” is Scahill’s follow-up to his New York Times bestseller, “Blackwater: The World’s Most Powerful Army.” In 2010, Scahill was the first to reveal the plans of Blackwater founder Erik Prince to move to the United Arab Emirates amidst mounting legal troubles. The New York Times confirmed the story two months later. Speaking on Democracy Now!, Scahill reveals his source at the time was none other than military whistleblower Bradley Manning.

Watch the 50-minute Part 1 of our interview with Jeremy Scahill at http://owl.li/klnWN.

Monsanto, Blackwater and GM crop saboteurs: here.

Cameron sells weapons to Middle East dictators


This video from Britain is called Cameron‘s Saudi hypocrisy.

By Roger Bagley in Parliament in London, England:

MPs slam PM‘s death trip to Middle East

Monday 05 November 2012

Peace campaigning Labour MPs voiced alarm today over Prime Minister David Cameron’s death-dealing expedition to oppressive Middle Eastern regimes.

Mr Cameron is on a three-day trip to sell Typhoon jets and a host of weaponry to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the explosive region.

His talks with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) prime minister are part of a plan for joint production of a new generation of military aerospace equipment.

The government is also preparing to station some of its own Typhoon jets at an airbase in Abu Dhabi as part of a “long-term strategic defence partnership” with the UAE.

Islington North Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn warned: “With the danger of war with Iran coming ever closer, the last thing we need is more western interference in the area.

“We need human rights and democracy, not munitions and profits for Cameron’s friends.”

Mr Corbyn complained that the Saudi regime was “in a class of its own where denial of human rights and free speech are concerned” and challenged the PM to raise the issue.

Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn said it was “alarming” that Mr Cameron was seeking arms deals in an area with the greatest risk of new wars breaking out.

Mr Flynn condemned the “Siamese twins” of the British military and the arms manufacturers who had a vested interest in wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan and the prospect of war with Iran.

He pointed out that no fewer than 3,500 former military personnel were now working in the arms industry.

See also here.

David Cameron has shown through his arms-trafficking trip to some of the vilest despots in the Arab Gulf that human rights form no part of his marketing patter: here.

Citigroup’s Abu Dhabi fraud


This video from the USA is called CitiGroup Gets $50M Private Jet With Bailout Money.

By Pam Martens of AlterNet in the USA:

Did Citigroup Defraud Billions from US Ally Abu Dhabi?

Sunday, 09 September 2012 07:42

According to a confidential cable published by Wikileaks, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi sent a communication to the U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Treasury on December 22, 2009, alerting them to the fact that the investment arm of a U.S. ally, Abu Dhabi, believed it had been defrauded of $4 billion by Citigroup (Wall Street’s serial miscreant and recent ward of the taxpayer). The cable relayed that William Brown, legal advisor to the Abu Dhabi investment arm, “unequivocally stated that Citi ‘lied’ and must be held accountable.”

Three years later, Abu Dhabi has likely figured out that in the U.S., gangsters have guns but banksters are far more dangerous – they have ivy league educated lawyers. One group of lawyers writes the prospectuses that defraud investors; another group writes the contracts that bar these cases from ever seeing sunshine in a public courtroom; and the third group provides skillful white color criminal defense, including a speed dial to their pals in Washington, ensuring that justice will be as elusive as a Wall Street CEO clad in orange.

A three month search of records, that have not yet been sealed or redacted, show that Abu Dhabi landed in the same plundered status as public pension funds and small time investors in Citigroup, while a very special Group of Six reaped a windfall.

It all started with a handshake from a former U.S. Treasury Secretary. On Monday, November 26, 2007, four days after Thanksgiving, Robert Rubin was standing in one of the most spectacular waterfront buildings in the Middle East – the headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. With two finger-like wings, the gleaming building showcases an atrium soaring 40 stories into the sky.

Rubin, a former Co-Chairman of Goldman Sachs, whose lavish pay at Citigroup since leaving Treasury in 1999 had reached $120 million for eight years of non-management work, had more than architecture on his mind that day. He had reluctantly agreed to serve as interim Chairman of Citigroup after the company had earlier that month forced out its Chairman and CEO, Chuck Prince, following spectacular losses and a sinking share price. Rubin was on a critical mission to secure a $7.5 billion lifeline for Citigroup.

Flamingos nesting in Abu Dhabi


This video says about itself:

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi captures and tracks its 15th Flamingo as part of ongoing conservation efforts.

From Wildlife Extra:

Greater Flamingos breeding at Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

17 chicks were born on Al Wathba in 2012 nesting season

September 2012. 2012: The Greater flamingo has successfully bred once again at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi. Flamingos first bred in this area in 1998 and then again a decade later.

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, which lies about 45 minutes’ drive from Abu Dhabi city, was declared protected by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, late President of the UAE, in 1998 after it was created by an accidental discharge of over-capacity treated sewage water from Al Mafraq Wastewater Treatment Plant. … Today, the reserve covers a total area of 5 km² and is managed by The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD). It is home to nearly 250 species of birds that depend on the wetland for resting, feeding or breeding. It also provides a safe refuge for many species of reptiles, small mammals and insects.

Internationally, the Reserve gained recognition when the Greater flamingo successfully bred at Al Wathba in 1999 while a 1993 flamingo breeding attempt at Al Wathba, foiled by human interference after a first chick had hatched, was the first known breeding in the Arabian Peninsula since 1922.

2000 flamingos

Today, over 2,000 Greater flamingos are present at AL Wathba and a high percentage of these are adult breeding birds. As part of the routine monitoring undertaken by EAD’s Bird Conservation team, nests were recorded at several locations; however they successfully bred at the one site only.

The bird nested at the same site where they bred successfully on two previous occasions in 1998-99 and in 2011.The first eggs were spotted during the last week in May and the first new-born chick was recorded on June 27. More chicks were born on the following days. The 2012 nesting season saw 17 chicks born, similar to the number of chicks born in 2011.

“Through our work managing areas such as Al Wathba Wetland Reserve and other protected areas in Abu Dhabi Emirate, it has become increasingly evident that the protection of such areas is crucial in ensuring the preservation of our environment, as our economy continues to grow,” said Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.

This successful breeding of flamingos in the Reserve is an indicator of the suitability of habitat for the flamingos in the Reserve.
“Monitoring of water quality and Artemia, a key food source for flamingos, has helped us in improving the overall management of the reserve enabling flamingos to successfully breed”, said Dr. Shaikha Al Dhaheri

“Our flamingo monitoring and tracking programme and the valuable data that has been collected over the past few years has helped us monitoring trends in numbers and improved protection of their habitat” added Dr. Al Dhaheri.

The Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is a species with a broad distribution range from the western Mediterranean Basin to Sri Lanka in the north, to South Africa in the south. It is the most common visitor to the UAE and can be observed all year round in lagoons, fresh and salt waters of artificial wetlands, even close to human settlements or activities, such as highways, suburbs, industrial areas, salt pans, sewage ponds. The Greater flamingo is a flagship species for conservation in the UAE and has successfully bred at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Shahama and Bulsyayeef, all in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The Greater flamingo makes mound[s] on islands or in sheltered coastal habitat and lay[s] a single egg. EAD has a successful flamingo tracking programme, implemented since 2005.

Prehistoric Flamingo Nest with Eggs Discovered: here.

Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba Wetland Reserve declared as Ramsar Site: here.

Abu Dhabi dugong research


This video is called The Dugongs of Abu Dhabi.

From Wildlife Extra:

4 dugong fitted with Satellite tags off Abu Dhabi

EAD successfully satellite tags four dugongs in Abu Dhabi waters

May 2012: Scientists at the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD) are now actively tracking the movement and habitat use of 4 Dugongs after successfully tagging them with satellite transmitters off the UAE’s Marine Protected Area of Al Yasat Island and Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve. The tagging was part of an overall effort to better understand dugong migration and movement patterns in Abu Dhabi waters.

These two sites were selected in particular for their close proximity to the Qatar border, in order to better understand dugong migration within the Arabian Gulf and to gain vital information that will enhance regional cooperation on the conservation of dugongs.

The data collected will also help EAD inform and guide the Government of Abu Dhabi in its efforts to set the environmental regulatory and policy framework needed to continue protecting both the local population of this globally endangered species and the fragile marine ecosystem which surrounds the Emirate’s coastline.

Dugong Conservation Programme

… The information collected over the past 13 years has helped EAD to understand dugong behaviour and has contributed to the establishment of the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve and Al Yasat Marine Protected Area in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Traveling 6-9 Kms per day

The tagging of the dugongs was undertaken in collaboration with Charles Darwin University, Australia, one of the world’s leading institutions in the field of dugong research. Data received so far from the satellites are being analysed by EAD. The dugongs are foraging within a radius of 10 to 15 km from the site they were captured and released. The average distance travelled by the dugongs per day was calculated to be between 6.2 and 8.8 km.

Skin samples

“We tracked the dugongs by helicopter and then signalled to our team, who were in the water on a small inflatable boat and two support boats. When the dugongs swam up to the surface in shallow water, our team dove in to capture the dugong and attached a transmitter on the tail of each of the animals. They also measured each dugong and safely took a small skin sample for DNA testing before releasing each of them back into the water,” said Thabit Al Abdessalaam, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, EAD.

“The results from this study will help us better understand their migration patterns across borders with neighbouring countries and will further facilitate and enhance existing regional cooperation in the conservation,” he added.

Densest population of dugongs in the world

Sometimes known as a ‘sea cow,’ this air-breathing mammal is highly adapted to life in the sea, spending much of its time grazing on sea grass which is found at the bottom of the sea. Abu Dhabi’s Bu Tinah Island is home to the densest population of dugongs in the world. Here, and in other parts of Abu Dhabi waters it occurs, this species continues to flourish in an environment which is not under threat.

However, due to its slow movement, large size and dependence on coastal habitats, the dugong is still vulnerable to human impacts. Globally, the dugong is considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to be ‘vulnerable to extinction.’ This gentle herbivorous creature is facing extinction around the world due to increased human maritime activity – from targeted and incidental harvesting, the community’s careless disposal of trash, to accidents from boat traffic, and even dredging activity. Additionally, their dependence on seagrass found in coastal habitats further increases their vulnerability due to loss of seagrass habitat as a result of human activity.

UAE wildlife conservation news


This video is called UAEDubai Wildlife Sanctuary- Flamingo HD.

From Big News Network.com (IANS), Sunday 15th April, 2012:

UAE launches wildlife conservation project

The UAE has launched a project to protect the wildlife and the fragile ecosystem of the Jebel Hafit mountain in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The mountain is home to some of the most threatened wildlife. The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) now plans to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the mountain in 2012.

Straddling the UAE-Oman border, Jebel Hafit is home to breeding populations of threatened species like Blanford’s Fox, Brandt’s Hedgehog and the Arabian Tahr.

The EAD has already set up special cameras to monitor the wildlife.

Raptors like the Egyptian Vulture and Bonelli’s Eagle are also found in Jebel Hafit.

Over 170 plant species have so far been documented in Jebel Hafit. This accounts for over 40 percent of the total plant species recorded in the emirate.

“Jebel Hafit supports a range of rare species and habitat, which could not thrive in the surrounding desert.

“It is vital that we ensure the cultural and environmental value of Jebel Hafit for current and future generations,” Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD secretary general, said Saturday.

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Sea Snake Species of Abu Dhabi


This video is called Banded Sea Snake – Wakatobi, Indonesia.

From Wildlife Extra:

The Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) has been collecting sea snake specimens and sightings as part of its marine wildlife monitoring programme.

The reptiles were collected between 2002- 2006 off Marawah Island, Jernain Island and Abu Dhabi Island. The Agency recorded at least four sea snake species in Abu Dhabi waters; the Arabian Gulf Sea Snake, Yellow-bellied Sea Snake, Short Sea Snake and one unidentified species of the genus Hydrophis. The snakes all measured between 50 – 77 cm long.

Worldwide, there have been few records of human fatalities due to sea snake bites, although some erroneous reports make huge claims for sea snakes deaths. Sea snakes have very small mouths which they can open to bite or swallow larger objects, they are capable of swallowing prey two to three times the diameter of their necks.

The Arabian Gulf Sea Snake, the most common sea snake in Abu Dhabi waters, is dangerous and its bite can be fatal. However, according to the Agency, this species is usually docile. It lives in warm, shallow waters or in sea grass. It is yellow in colour, sometimes a pale dull green or grey, with dark bands along the length of its body.

Approximately 50 species of sea snakes occur in warm tropical waters and are distributed across the Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Ten sea snake species have been described in the Arabian Gulf.

Banded sea kraits are venomous, but generally not thought to be aggressive and therefore dangerous to divers. Although they feed in the sea, they return to land to mate. Unlike many other sea snakes, they lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young: here.

Researchers studying turtle-headed seasnakes living on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific noticed something unusual about the snakes’ color patterns: seasnakes living in more pristine parts of the reef were decorated with black-and-white bands or blotches. Those in places with more human activity — near the city or military activity — were black. Those color differences are explained by differences in the snakes’ exposure to pollution: here.

Snake hunting in Cambodia: here.

Marawah Becomes the First Biosphere Reserve in the UAE: here.