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Bird-guiding in the UAE

As of January 2017 we are struggling with availability of birdguides, they are only available during the weekend (Friday & Saturday).



General rate is AED 133 pr hour (US $ 36). This includes the guide in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Half day guiding, 6 hours: AED 800/- (1-3 persons, no additional cost if you are one, two or three persons in the car).

Full day guiding, 12 hours: AED 1.600/- (1-3 persons, no additional cost if you are one, two or three persons in the car).

Pick-up & drop-off in Dubai is normally at a central location, for example a hotel along Sheik Zayed Road.

For further information, see Contact

At the end of this page there is information regarding literature.



Dubai-based guides:

Mark Smiles

Mark has been a passionate birder for over 30 years and has travelled widely around the world, especially in Asia, reaching a total of 4,800 world species in 2014, the same year that he passed a tally of 375 in the UAE, making him one of the UAE’s most prolific twitchers ever. A member of the Emirates Bird Records Committee since 2011, he is the lead author of the annual UAE bird report.

Born in the north-east of England, he arrived as a passage migrant in the UAE in the summer of 2009, becoming resident in 2010 and has since birded his way round all 7 emirates, finding several national “firsts” along the way. From Wamm Farms in the east to Sila’a in the far west, his favourite places to look for birds, Mark is happy to go anywhere and do (almost) anything, in pursuit of birds.

Based in Dubai, he is available for guiding groups of up to 3 people on Fridays and Saturdays, providing he’s not travelling.... or twitching!



Mark eagle-watching off the coast of Hokkaido in 2014. In the UAE he is often seen without the thick jacket



Tommy Pedersen

Tommy lives in Dubai and at times available for half-day guiding (8am to 2pm), sometimes full day when his flight-schedule and busy family life allows; not weekends.

Tommy is from Norway and working as a pilot for Emirates Airlines, based in Dubai since February 2002. He has been birding since 1976, worlwide since 1986.

A member of the Emirates Bird Records Committee, EBRC as well as being the 'UAE Bird Recorder' since 2005. If you ever record a bird in the UAE, he will chase you relentlessly for the details.

Tommy has birded most of Europe and Australia, all over Siberia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mexico, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Malaysia, Java, Seychelles, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile and the Galapagos Islands. He lived and worked in the USA and Democratic Republic of Congo (ex Zaire) in the 1990's.

This has put his life list at 4,000+ species, the UAE list above 370 species and all records logged in eBird

Tommy is available for half day birdguiding, rarely full days, with a start and finish point normally in Arabian Ranches.
This area is easy to reach by metered taxi from your hotel, and taxi easily available there at the end of the day. Cost appx AED 60 each way.

Tommy will know his flying schedule for any given month after the 20th of the preceding month, i.e. if you want to go birding on for example March 18th and 19th, availability will be known only after February 20th.

He can comfortably accommodate three birders in his Nissan Armada.



Tommy during the Mega-Twitch for Wilson's Phalarope found by Oscar at Al Wathba Lake, January 2010




East Coast based guides:

Jacky Judas

Jacky hails from the north of France, birding since the age of 12.
He says: 'mainly birding in France during my younger years, but then French Austral and Antarctic territories, where I have worked on Albatrosses and Penguins, in French Guiana for my PhD in tropical ecology, in Europe, Africa, central Asia, Madagascar, New Zealand, China, Nepal, Pakistan, and most of Arabia (Saudi Arabia, where I was resident for 5 years, Oman, Yemen) and quite regularly in Thailand, which is my favorite destination.
I have never managed to make a count of my life list, possibly around 3000'

Jacky has been a resident in the UAE since 2004.
His availability would be mainly during weekends (Fridays and Saturdays), but if required and adviced sufficiently in advance, week days might also be possible to arrange.

Jacky can guide on the East coast, including the following sites: Masafi Wadi, Wamm Farms, Dibba Port, Fujairah Port Beach, Khor Kalba, and the Hajar Mountains more generally.

Hopefully, he might include a visit to Wadi Wurayah in a near future. This is not an easy birding place, but might be interesting for a few species like Hooded Weathear, or Lichstenstein Sandgrouse in the evening, or even trying more for Omani Owl.

Jacky is also well versed in other topics than birds, including dragonflies, butterflies, reptiles, mountain flora, some notes on the geology, and general conservation in the UAE.

Jacky can also extend birding to Al Ain, to sites like Green Mubazzarah, Zakher Lake, Ayn al-Fayda, Jebel Hafit.



Jacky ringing a Common Kingfisher in Wadi Wurrayah



Abu Dhabi based guides:

No guides generally available as of spring 2016, but try Abu Dhabi-based Oscar Campbell or Simon Lloyd for the latest local info (see Contacts)

Al Ain based guides:

No guides generally available as of spring 2016, but try Al Ain-based Huw Roberts for the latest local info (see Contacts)



Professionally guided trips:

Mike Barth

Mike lived in the UAE from 2004 to early 2017. He specialising in Bird Photography.

Mike has also spent time with his cameras in India, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Thailand, Mauritius, USA and Europe. Mike is also known for the many years he spent traveling the expanse of Russia photographing the now rare Soviet aircraft, published in many UK based Aviation magazines.

He knows all of the best birding spots, and can accomodate up to 4 birders.

Available for a minimum of 2 full days, all days of the week, but will need advance notice. More details here:



Mike during a recent photo-birding trip to Kerala





The three must-have birdbooks for the region are:

- Birds of the United Arab Emirates by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall
Published in 2011, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd.

- Birds of the Middle East 2nd edition by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall.
Published in 2010, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd.
This is also available as an app for your iPhone or iPad:

- Collins Bird Guide 2nd edition by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterstrom and Peter J Grant.
Published in 2010, Harper Collins
Also available in large format


An excellent offroad guide to the UAE is the UAE Off-Road
Publisher: Explorer Publishing
An offroad UAE website is found here