‘Uruq Bani Mu’arid is one of the nation's largest nature reserves

‘Uruq Bani Mu’arid is one of the nation's largest nature reserves

Learn more about the natural beauty of Saudi's south-western region
07 August 23

Spanning more than 12,000 kilometres, the ‘Uruq Bani Mu’arid Reserve is one of the Kingdom's largest protected areas.

Although yet to be confirmed, the area was nominated to be a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2019. The reserve is part of the expansive landscape of the Ar-Rub‘ al-Khali desert in the southwest area of Saudi Arabia.

The naturally occurring reserve is characterised by the incredible desert environment, which makes it an attractive area for local wildlife, birds and other animals. The reserve consists of sand dunes, hills, and limestone plateaus, and continues to wow with deep valleys and plains transformed by vegetation. 

The diverse terrain lends itself to being the first 'model reserve' in Saudi Arabia, here the latest technologies are implemented for monitoring and conducting the necessary checks to preserve the natural landscape and local wildlife, as part of an integrated preservation program by the National Center for Wildlife Development.

The National Center for Wildlife Development seeks to preserve endangered animals, including the Arabian Oryx, which considered a first-class threatened antelope species. The ‘Uruq Bani Mu’arid Reserve offers the last natural habitat in the Arabian Peninsula where the Arabia Oryx settle. With the Center's efforts, the reserve has become a breeding ground for the Arabian Oryx and other endangered animals.

Some describe the reserve as a treasure of nature in the Empty Quarter, due to the natural integration between animals, valleys and plants. 

In addition to the sand dunes, the reserve is home to 121 notable plant species, and has become one of the important sites for plants according to the international classification. The area is rich in woody trees, acacia, frankincense, and many various herbs and plants, which makes it one of the most important desert landscapes in the Kingdom.  

In the heart of the desert, the Kingdom has succeeded in resettling groups of wild animals and endangered birds alongside the Arabian Oryx, these species include a number of antelope and gazelle. 

The nature reserve has become a popular tourist destination, although the main aim of the reserve is to maintain the natural environment.

Far from the most frequented parts of the Empty Quarter and the surrounding desert dunes, tourists still seek a glimpse into life at the nature reserve. Tour guide Jamal Al-Sahil, tells us about his visit and experience of staying overnight in the area.

Touching on his visits to the reserve and appreciation for the area, Al-Sahil discuses why the ‘Uruq Bani Mu’arid nature reserve is a magnificent tourist experience: "I was invited to visit the reserve by my friend Abdulaziz Al-Othaim, with the Ajwad Travel and Tourism Company. The security team looking after the reserve acted as guides, telling us about the animals and birds that live in the area and about the surrounding terrain."

Adding more details about his trip to the nature reserve, Al-Othaim said: "The trip lasted for two days, each filled with fun and discovery. It was incredible to get to see and know the area during both the daylight hours and at night. At night, when the cold started to creep in, we lit a fire at the camp and sat around discussing what we had seen in the picturesque reserve. As a tour guide, I could see that the reserve would be a unique destination for both local visitors and international tourists, in addition to it being close popular tourism spot, the historic village of Qaryat Al-Faw."

All images via Talal Alyahya