Irak Bani Maarad Reserve in Saudi Arabia has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List

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A list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites has been released and the natural habitat for wildlife in Saudi Arabia has been topped by the Irq Bani Maarad Reserve.







Group of Arabian oryx with sand dune background.  (Photo courtesy: unesco.org)
Group of Arabian oryx with sand dune background. (Photo courtesy: unesco.org)





UNESCO’s World Heritage List has been released, with Irq Bani Ma’rad Reserve, a natural habitat for wildlife in Saudi Arabia, at the top.












Vascular reserve

“The property encompasses the western part of the largest stretch of wind-blown sand on Earth, known as Ar Rab Al-Khai, and preserves one of the most spectacular desert landscapes on Earth. The property’s diversity The topography creates a wide range of wildlife habitats, and the area is notable for its world-renowned desert animals, including the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) and the Arabian sand gazelle (Gazella marica). in their natural habitats after decades of extinction in the wild,” UNESCO said.












‘Aruk Bani Ma’rad has been designated an Important Plant Area because of its richness of plant life compared to other parts of the Empty Quarter, and the presence of many plant species in the Arabian Peninsula. The limestone escarpment is sparsely vegetated, but wadis crease the sides of the escarpment and support the growth of a variety of shrubs, including acacias, grasses, and perennial legumes. Fewer plants grow on the dunes, notably Calligonum crinitum ssp. arabicum together with sedges and perennial grasses. In the corridors between the dunes grow dwarf haloxylon persicum, Moringa peregrina and Commemyphora murra. Few annuals grow here, but perennials sprout new shoots after rain. 106 plant species have been recorded in the reserve.












Mobile dunes also provide an excellent and well-oxygenated habitat for sand-diving invertebrates and reptiles. The site is protected. The Vasak Bani Ma’rad Reserve is located on the western edge of the Rab al-Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest sand desert in the world. The area is divided into three parts, namely – a primary nature reserve; An area where controlled grazing is permitted. And the hunting area.











First Published: 01 Oct 2023, 12:31 IST



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