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Dubai Butterfly Garden, Dubai

20 August 2015

Dubai’s newly opened indoor Butterfly Garden offers a fantastical respite from the city’s end-of-summer heat.

As if stemming from the imagination of Lewis Carroll, Dubai’s Miracle Garden, with its fantastical flower displays, has been enthralling visitors throughout the winter season. Now, summer in the city is just as fanciful as the Garden opens its indoor Butterfly Garden.

Entering the lush, jungle-like interior of the Dubai Butterfly Garden at Dubailand is akin to stepping through Alice’s looking glass. It is a magical experience. Butterflies the size of your hand daintily float by, while other, even more brightly coloured specimens gently come to rest on your head, shoulders and hands… not an experience for the more squeamish.

Protected from the heat of the Arabian Peninsula’s summer season, the world’s largest indoor collection of butterflies is enclosed in the cool of nine space-like greenhouse domes, with each colourful beauty fluttering freely throughout the desert oasis. At a pleasant 24 degrees Celsius, the garden’s occupants and visitors are oblivious to the harsh environment beyond the walls.

The butterfly oasis is the brainchild of AKAR Landscaping Services and Agriculture, the team also behind the Dubai Miracle Garden. Abdul Nasser Rahhal, general manager of the gardens, says the butterfly greenhouses are home to 15,000 butterflies and pupae, originating from Latin America, Asia and Africa.

“Our most popular butterfly is the blue Morpho,” says Abdul. “We have three species of Morpho, and we also have the biggest species of butterfly, the Owl Butterfly, which is one of our main butterflies.” Owl butterflies can grow very large, up to 65–200 mm (2.6–7.9 in) and are named for the large owl-like ‘eye’ found on the wings.

Set out in a circular shape, the Butterfly Garden’s interconnected greenhouses total 1,800 square metres, space enough for 300 people to wander its grounds. Each dome is filled with different colours, sizes and species of butterfly, while a butterfly museum and an outdoor butterfly flower park complete the attraction. Nasser Rahhal says plans are in place to expand the garden to incorporate a bird garden and koy fish garden, as well as host children’s birthday parties.

A riot of colour and sound, the garden is open year-round and brims with tropical foliage, nectar plants, trailing tendrils of ivy and water features, all there for the sole enjoyment of the star attractions, the butterflies. The domes’ nectar plants, which supply food for the butterflies, are planted in differing colours inside each dome to attract and maintain the population. Some of the most popular nectar plants used in the gardens include butterfly bush and butterfly weed.

While an enthralling day-out, the garden’s creators also strive for an educational experience; hoping that visitors may witness the actual butterfly lifecycle and gain insight into their metamorphosis, which offers an opportunity to recognise and appreciate the butterfly in all its growth stages that can vary from between one and three weeks.

The Dubai Butterfly Garden may indeed be educational but the real drawcard is that it is at once peaceful and utterly magical, enabling visitors to escape into a fantastical garden of whimsy. The garden is located adjacent to the Dubai Miracle Garden in Dubailand off Um Suqeim Road. It is open daily from 9am to 5.30pm and entrance is Dhs50.

dubaibutterflygarden.com

Words and Images: Sandra Tinari

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