, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 98–108 | Cite as

An overview of wetlands of Saudi Arabia: Values, threats, and perspectives

  • Sami Al-Obaid
  • Boudjéma Samraoui
  • Jacob Thomas
  • Hamed A. El-Serehy
  • Ahmed H. Alfarhan
  • Wolfgang Schneider
  • Mark O’Connell


The wetlands of Saudi Arabia are located in a water-stressed region that is highly vulnerable to climate and other global changes. Sebkhas, mudflats, mangroves, and wadis are the dominant wetlands in the arid regions of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. These unique wetlands are recognized as a sanctuary for biodiversity and for their economic services generated from mineral extraction, agriculture, and grazing. Despite their ecological values and societal services, the long-term permanence of Saudi Arabia’s wetlands faces strong challenges resulting from human activities associated with sustained population growth, habitat degradation, and coastal development. This paper consolidates a literature review of Saudi Arabia’s wetlands from local to global importance, highlights their biodiversity, and identifies threats and evolution of these vulnerable ecosystems in the arid Arabian Peninsula by focusing on the status of key freshwater taxa (Odonata, freshwater fishes, amphibians, and waterbirds) and documenting changes affecting important wetlands.


Conservation Environment Global changes Management Saudi Arabia Sustainable use Wetlands 



We are most grateful to two anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions. This project was supported by NSTIP strategic technologies programs, number (12-ENV2569-02) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


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© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany and Microbiology, College of ScienceKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Conservation des Zones HumidesUniversity of GuelmaGuelmaAlgeria
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of AnnabaAnnabaAlgeria
  4. 4.Center of Excellence for Research in BiodiversityKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  5. 5.Department of Zoology, College of ScienceKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  6. 6.Senckenberg Research InstituteFrankfurtGermany
  7. 7.ERT Conservation, StroudGloucestershireUK

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