The Wetland Book pp 1173-1183 | Cite as

Coastal Sabkha (Salt Flats) of the Southern and Western Arabian Gulf

  • Ronald A. LoughlandEmail author
  • Ali M. Qasem
  • Bruce Burwell
  • Perdana K. Prihartato
Reference work entry


The importance of coastal saline salt flats along the southern and western Arabian Gulf coast (known as sabkha) is discussed. Sabkha landforms are being rapidly converted for industrial and urban coastal expansion. In Abu Dhabi, sabkha has also been successfully converted to productive saline agro-systems using both local mangrove (Avicennia marina) and saline tolerant algae (Dunaliella salina). The mangrove systems have developed into productive forest ecosystems supporting local fisheries. The algae systems developed in ponds within sabkha have produced a natural pharmaceutical (beta-carotene), biomass and oil for production of biofuel. The use of sabkha landforms as a sink for heated saline brine produced by the desalination and industrial use of seawater is preferable than its current discharge to the marine environment where it is causing ecological impacts. The alteration of sabkha landforms into saline agro-systems is argued to be more productive than the permanent conversion of these same landforms for industrial or residential development.


Arabian Gulf Biofuels Mangroves Sabkha Saline agro-systems Saline algae 


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Copyright information

© Crown 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald A. Loughland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ali M. Qasem
    • 2
  • Bruce Burwell
    • 3
  • Perdana K. Prihartato
    • 4
  1. 1.Environmental Protection DepartmentSaudi AramcoDhahran, Ash SharqiyahSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Environmental Engineering Div./ Environmental Protection DeptSaudi AramcoDhahranSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.E-Map DepartmentSaudi AramcoDhahran, Ash SharqiyahSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Environmental Protection DepartmentSaudi AramcoDhahran, Ash SharqiyahSaudi Arabia

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