Saudi Arabia

Saudi: Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve Honoured as UNESCO’s Newest Natural Treasure

In a historic moment, the Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve in Saudi Arabia has secured its place on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. The announcement was made by Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, Minister of Culture, Chairman of the National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, and Chairman of the Heritage Commission.

This remarkable achievement was the culmination of efforts during the extended 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee being held in Riyadh from September 10 to 25.

Saudi Arabia now proudly boasts its very first UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, underscoring the Kingdom’s unwavering dedication to safeguarding its natural ecosystems and cultural heritage.

The Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve, located along the western edge of Ar-Rub Al-Khali (The Empty Quarter), covers a vast expanse of over 12,750 km². It stands as a singular sand desert in tropical Asia and the largest continuous sand sea on Earth. Offering a breathtaking panorama of the Empty Quarter’s sands and boasting some of the world’s largest complex linear dunes, the Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve possesses outstanding universal value.

Notably, the reserve serves as an exceptional testament to the environmental and biological evolution of flora and fauna in Saudi Arabia. It provides crucial natural habitats for the survival of more than 120 indigenous plant species and shelters endangered animals, including gazelles and the world’s only free-ranging herd of Arabian Oryx.

The Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve complies with the rigorous World Heritage standards as a sand desert that embodies outstanding universal value, forming a unique and diverse landscape. It encompasses a range of extensive natural habitats that are vital to the survival of key species and encompasses five sub-groups of the Kingdom’s national ecosystems, a critical component for maintaining the site’s biodiversity.


Saudi Gazette

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