UruqBaniMa‘arid (12787 square kilometers) issituated along the western edge of Ar-Rub‘ al-Khali, the Empty Quarter, which is widely considered the largest sand desert on Earth. With the world’s largest longitudinal sand dunes, overlying a dissected limestone plateau, and the southern end of the Tuwayq Escarpment, this protected area contains greater biological diversity than any other part of the Empty Quarter, with vegetated wadis, gravel plains, and inter-dune corridors. It is the last place that the Arabian Oryx is reliably reported to have been observed in the wild,* and is now the focus of an intensive and successful reintroduction program for Arabian Oryx, reemGazellasubgutturosamarica, and IdmiGazella. Ostrich eggshells are found in abundance in the area, and reintroduction of the ostrich Struthiocamelus is under consideration. Management objectives for this protected area are to maintain the ecosystem without degradation of its biological diversity and productivity; to conserve and restore the populations of threatened species and other key taxa, including Arabian Oryx, reem gazelle and idmi gazelle; to safeguard the site’s natural processes and the ecosystem services they generate, to enable the local communities to benefit through sustainable use of renewable natural resources, and to provide opportunities for scientific research, environmental education, sustainable naturebased recreation and ecotourism.

 

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