The Uruq Bani Ma‘arid Reserve, situated along the western edge of ar-Rub al-Khali (The Empty Quarter) in Saudi Arabia, has been inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List.
This was announced by Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, Saudi Minister of Culture, Chairman of the National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, and Chairman of the Heritage Commission. The decision was taken during the extended 45th session of the Unesco World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh.
The nomination of the site marks Saudi Arabia’s very first Unesco Natural Heritage Site and celebrates the kingdom’s continued efforts to protect and maintain its natural ecosystems and cultural heritage, he said.
The inscription of the Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve adds to the six other Saudi Unesco sites: Al-Ahsa Oasis, Al-Hijr Archaeological Site, At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah, Ḥimā Cultural Area, Historic Jeddah, and Rock Art in the Hail Region.
The minister congratulated Saudi Arabia’s leadership on this landmark achievement. The decision came on the back of unwavering support for culture and heritage in the kingdom and reflects Saudi Arabia’s vast culture and biodiversity across its regions, he said.
Prince Bader said: “The inscription of the reserve on the Unesco World Heritage List as the first Natural Heritage Site in the kingdom contributes to highlighting the importance of natural heritage on a global scale and reflects the outstanding value of the reserve.”
Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve occupies an area of over 12,750 sq km and is the only major sand desert in tropical Asia and the largest continuous sand sea on Earth. With a world-class panorama of the sands of the Empty Quarter and some of the world’s largest complex linear dunes, Uruq Bani Ma‘arid Reserve embodies outstanding universal value.
It is an exceptional showcase of the environmental and biological evolution of flora and fauna in Saudi Arabia and provides vital natural habitats for the survival of more than 120 indigenous plant species, as well as endangered animals living in harsh environments, including gazelles and the only free-ranging herd of Arabian Oryx in the world.
Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve fulfils the World Heritage standards as a sand desert that embodies outstanding universal value and forms a unique and diverse landscape. The Reserve contains a range of extensive natural habitats vital to the survival of key species and includes five sub-groups of the Kingdom's national ecosystems, which is vital to maintaining the site's biodiversity. - TradeArabia News Service