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UAE’s newest nature reserve: Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary

Article-UAE’s newest nature reserve: Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary

Khor Kalba Turtle Main
Designed by Hopkins Architects, the Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary is designed for a range of rehabilitative, educational and operational purposes.

London-based Hopkins Architects has completed work for the brand new Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharjah. Located in Kalba city, the nature reserve has been commissioned by the Environmental Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah (EPAA). 

Comprising a group of squat, round-roofed buildings, the Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary is designed to serve as a multi-functional nature reserve for turtles and endangered birds.

The nature reserve also has visitor facilities aimed at growing awareness and engagement around conservation and preservation efforts.

Further, as an operational base, the Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary will support research and monitoring of the reserve’s natural resources, and those of the wider east coast of the UAE and Oman.

Khor Kalba Turtle


The reserve is made of seven, interconnected pods. They house a range of facilities, from aquaria, exhibition areas, staff offices, and veterinary facilities, to classrooms, a gift shop and a café, in addition to amenities for visitors. 

 The reserve also features a terrace offering panoramic views of Kalba’s mangrove forests hemmed by mountains in the distance. 

Visitors can avail a nature trail that runs through indigenous mangrove forests and mud flats. Species that can be found here include turtles, stingrays, gazelles, and the Arabian Collared Kingfisher, a rare bird with a distinctive teal hue.

Urchin exoskeletons inspire the skeletal structure of the pods. It resembles that of the Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Centre, another property designed by Hopkins Architects and located in the outskirts of Sharjah. 

The pre-fabricated cantilevered concrete structures are built on elevated concrete foundations. White, pre-cast concrete, shaped to resemble shells, envelops the pods and provides an undulating interplay of light and texture.

Overall, the architecture of the Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary is designed to minimise disturbance to the local terrain while holding out against its coastal conditions, according to Hopkins Architects.

Khor Kalba Wildlife Sanctuary 2


The Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary is an addition to Sharjah’s rapidly growing architectural landscape, and its reputation as an eco-tourism destination. This serves well for the city, which has a number of biodiversity spots and protected areas, including Khor Kalba.

The Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary joins the ranks of several other nature reserves commissioned by the EPAA, such as Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre. 

The wildlife sanctuary also complements projects by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, or Shurooq, to grow eco-tourism efforts in the region.

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