Drive an hour or so southeast out of the city of Abu Dhabi toward the emirate's empty deserts and you'll hit a landscape full of unexpected man-made creations.

The region of Al Wathba is home to a beautiful oasis-like wetland reserve created, so the story goes, by an overspill from a water treatment facility. Now it's a lush terrain that attracts flocks of migratory flamingos.

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