SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN DUBAI
Help us continue our Sustainability Mission
We started Platinum Heritage to protect the local environment and preserve the local culture and heritage. Our mission shapes everything we do, from being the only camp to run completely on solar power to donating over 1 million dirhams to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. We offer authentic food and entertainment, avoid dune bashing, and offer free tours at local charity schools to young students. Our ecotourism business model enables us to sustainably support, protect, and showcase Dubai's cultural heritage and natural environment through educational and entertaining desert experiences. We incorporate all three sustainability pillars: social, economic and environmental. We aim to be as sustainable as possible without lowering our desert safaris' premium and high-quality standards.
EMIRATI CULTURAL HERITAGE
We bring Emirati cultural heritage to life with our vibrant camps, authentic cuisine and traditional entertainment. In our endeavor to preserve the cultural heritage of the UAE by educating and introducing tourists from around the world to the true heritage of Dubai, we create authentic travel experiences which simultaneously preserve local culture and support the economy of the local community. Our guests take a step back in time and experience what Dubai was like 50 years ago. We introduce them to the Bedouin way of life and give them the opportunity to learn about the rich traditions of these nomads of the Arabian desert.
In line with our mission to reduce waste we have implemented several initiatives. In 2017 we switched from plastic bottles to stainless steel reusable bottles. Not only is this more environmentally-friendly (the camels will thank you), you get a souvenir to take home after your desert safari experience. This switch is saving 200,000 plastic water bottles per year.
DUBAI DESERT CONSERVATION RESERVE
Platinum Heritage is the first and only desert safari company in Dubai to offer wildlife drives instead of dune bashing. In fact, dune bashing damages the environment and is, therefore, the leading cause of severe desertification, an environmental degradation where desert vegetation and wildlife are lost. Our wildlife drives are conducted by our Conservation Guides on set tracks in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. During these nature drives, we focus on educating guests with insights into the native fauna and flora of the desert.
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the oldest and one of the largest national parks in the UAE and home to thousands of indigenous plant and animal species. On behalf of every guest, we donate towards the conservation efforts of the reserve. We are the only desert safari company with 100% full-time and professionally trained Conservation Guides; this promises that an expert leads your desert experience with plenty of knowledge and anecdotes about the desert.
WILDLIFE DRIVES IN RESTORED VINTAGE LAND ROVERS
On our Heritage Desert Safari Collection, we use restored Series I and II Land Rovers. Fuel efficiency is only one element of calculating a vehicle’s environmental impact and since driving an electric car through the desert isn’t feasible, we found a way to reduce our environmental impact by rebuilding these old vehicles. It has been estimated that around 30-40% of the total greenhouse gas emissions over the life of a vehicle come from its manufacture. Scrapping old vehicles creates large quantities of non-recyclable plastics, toxic heavy metals, asbestos, CFCs, PCBs and rubber products, all of which have to be disposed of. Keeping an old vehicle on the road instead of scrapping it and buying another one is a more eco-friendly option. As the largest growing fleet of active museum-quality Series I Land Rovers in the world, our vintage collection of 24 Land Rovers have already saved 18 vehicles each from production and scrap which is 270 vehicles collectively.
AUTHENTIC CULTURAL INTERACTION
It is not easy to find authentic cultural representations in Dubai. We have removed false cultural references such as Belly dancing and Tanura dancing (both from Egypt) and replaced them with two cultural dance performances. We don’t serve alcohol (which is haram or forbidden in the local religion) or international cuisines and have replaced this with authentic Emirati cuisine. Our desert safaris educate the local and international market about the true elements of Emirati culture such as falconry, poetry, dance and song. The heritage and culture of Dubai’s past is slowly being lost so it is of paramount importance to preserve it.
At the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Awards 2019 our desert camps were awarded as the most sustainable in the industry. Platinum Heritage was also recognised as the overall Renewal Energy Leader in the tourism and hospitality industry in Dubai. All of our desert camps are built traditionally out of raw materials like wood, stone and goat hair inside a Royal desert retreat. We operate our camps with solar power and have implemented robust waste reduction and recycling procedures in all of our operations.
We are constantly looking at ways to make our desert safaris more sustainable and we have recently installed 100 SOURCE Hydropanels; a unique technology that converts sunlight and air into premium drinking water. This means that we are in a position to provide our desert safari guests with the world’s purest drinking water, in a safe, waste free and sustainable manner.
One of the best ways to learn about a culture is through trying it’s cuisine. Unlike most of the desert safari companies in Dubai, our Heritage Desert Safaris showcase the authentic cuisine of Dubai. Our Morning Desert Safaris feature traditional Bedouin breakfasts with famous local dishes. On the Evening Desert Safaris guests are treated to a 4-course dinner of local favourites like lamb ouzi, camel meat stew and kibbeh. Throughout the experience guests are introduced to the cultural significance of the dishes; this is a culinary journey where guests get to learn and savour delicious food from the region.
ONLINE EDUCATION AND RESOURCES
The Platinum Heritage YouTube Channel has reached almost 10 million views worldwide. Our Dubai Heritage and Dubai Desert Conservation playlists are a series of videos focused on educating the world about the cultural heritage and conservation in Dubai. Our online content library of helpful blogs and eBooks featuring topics related to Emirati cultural heritage, Dubai’s native fauna and flora and sustainability have gained millions of views from around the world. Our success means that thousands of school children, tourists and local residents have a deeper understanding of local traditions and customs and have discovered that there is an abundance of life inside the desert that needs to be protected.
Every month we reduce the use of waste like plastic, glass and paper in our operations and when we do need to use these materials, we recycle them after usage. We recently received a certificate of appreciation from the EMIRATES ENVIRONMENT (GROUP EEG) for our contribution to recycling glass. Participants are given targets depending on the type of waste collected which entitles them to planting trees at the Annual Tree Planting Event. For every 250kg of glass collected, the participant is entitled to plant 1 tree during the annual tree planting event. Overall, EEG has planted over 2.9m trees in the UAE since its creation. There are 135 families, 70 schools and 48 companies to participate in this year’s Tree Planting Event and we have been invited to plant 8 trees for collecting 2207 kg of glass.
We were awarded the Gulf Sustainability & CSR Award 2018 for the Best Sustainability Education Programme. Our educational desert experiences have engaged over 150,000 overseas tourists, local residents, local and international businesses and school students. All of these guests have donated towards desert conservation and encouraged the display, employment and protection of the Emirati people and their customs and traditions.
We have also developed a Dubai Nature and Conservation Programme and a Bedouin Culture and Heritage Programme for school groups in Dubai. These programmes offer a practical and hands-on approach to learning about Emirati culture and heritage and Dubai’s natural environment. Many schools have chosen these programmes for school field trips to support the UAE Social Studies curriculum.
DESERT CLEAN UPS
Unfortunately, parts of the unprotected desert areas outside of our property are sometimes littered. To increase public awareness and encourage community involvement we arrange internal and external desert clean ups in the public desert areas in Dubai. For companies interested in CSR and teambuilding events for their employees, we offer a combined package with a public desert clean up and an introduction to the importance of sustainability followed by our Heritage Safari in the more pristine private desert. This is an opportunity for groups to give back to the environment and enjoy a unique experience in the desert. Contact our events team for more details.
We employ local community members who are caught in a political loophole. Basically, they are people born in the mountain areas of the UAE and do not hold citizenship or a passport to any nation. They have applied for Emirati citizenship but there are strict requirements that these mountain Bedouin cannot always comply with. This makes them difficult to employ based on their non-existent visa status.
We employ some of these community members as Bedouin bread maker, henna artist and coffee maker. We employ Emirati students to conduct the entertainment for our Guests which helps them pay their way through University. We also only procure locally produced vegetables where possible. All too often it is assumed the locally community doesn’t need this help and they are not aware of the plight of a few.
ETHICAL ANIMAL TOURISM IN DUBAI
The welfare of our animals is extremely important to us. That’s why we follow the strict guidelines of the Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism. These guidelines suggest that all animals should have access to the five freedoms which are access to food and water, a suitable living environment, good health, an opportunity to exhibit natural behaviours and protection from fear and distress. All of our camel safaris, falcon shows and wildlife drives follow these guidelines to ensure that they are ethical. Find out more about the Platinum Heritage Animal Welfare Guidelines.