Species name: Ghaf
Scientific name: Prosopis cineraria
Locally known as: Al Ghaf
Description: The Ghaf is a drought-tolerant tree, which can remain green even in harsh desert environments.It is essential for the survival of animal and plant species alike. The Ghaf is the national tree of the UAE as it is a historic and cultural symbol of stability and peace in the UAE’s desert environment.
IUCN status: Not evaluated.
Key threats: Urbanisation and infrastructure development resulting in habitat loss, and overgrazing.
Where they're found today: Western Asia, Arabian Peninsula and the Indian Subcontinent.
Abu Dhabi’s efforts: According to UAE Federal Law No. 24 of 1999, it is prohibited to cut wild plants, uproot them or collect them illegally. We take strict measures on any felling of local trees with special regard for the Ghaf trees, which has massive adverse effects on our native biodiversity. EAD’s plant nursery currently stores the seeds of 58 species of native wild plants including the Ghaf tree. In 2019, 600 Ghaf trees were planted in the Al Faya Region, providing shelter and habitat for several thousand species, some of which are considered endangered globally and serve as a natural windbreaker for active winds in the area. In 2019, the Ghaf Tree was chosen as a symbol for the Year of Tolerance exemplifying its role as a historic and cultural symbol of stability and peace in the UAE’s desert environment.
- The Ghaf tree was declared the national tree of the UAE in 2008 because of its cultural and traditional significance.
- Ghaf trees can live for up to 120 years on average.
- A well-known example of the Ghaf is the 400-year-old ‘Tree of Life’ in Bahrain, which is still growing in the desert without any obvious sources of water.
- Traditionally Ghaf leaves and pods provided food and its nutritious branches were used for livestock. The tree was also traditionally used for its medicinal properties.