‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid’ listed 1st UNESCO National Heritage Site in Saudi

September 21, 2023, 8:15 pm

RIYADH – Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Culture and Chairman of the National Committee for Education, Culture and Science and of the Board of Directors of the Heritage Authority, on Wednesday announced the success of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in registering the “Uruq Bani Ma’arid” Reserve on the World Heritage List.

He said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed “Uruq Bani Ma’arid” as its first Natural Heritage Site in Saudi Arabia, owing to the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to protect and preserve its natural ecosystems and pay attention to its cultural heritage.

The UNESCO announced the decision during the 45th annual session of the World Heritage Committee hosted by Riyadh from Sept. 10 to 25.

On this occasion, the Saudi Minister of Culture congratulated the wise leadership on this important international registration, which reflects the unlimited support enjoyed by culture and heritage in the Kingdom, reflecting its rich heritage and natural diversity in its various regions.

The Minister of Culture affirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to protecting natural heritage and developing it in a sustainable manner, based on the wise leadership’s keenness on natural heritage and its strategic position in Saudi Vision 2030.

“The registration of the reserve on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the first natural heritage site on the list contributes to highlighting the importance of natural heritage on the World Heritage Map, and reflects the outstanding value of the reserve,” Prince Badr said, lauding the joint national efforts that supported achieving this distinguished listing.

The “Uruq Bani Ma’arid” Reserve is located along the western edge of the Empty Quarter on an area of more than 12.750 square kilometers.

It constitutes the only continuous sand desert in tropical Asia, and the largest continuous sand sea on the surface of the Earth and it is also characterized by the diversity of its ecosystems that provide vital natural habitats, which makes it an exceptional example of the continuous environmental and biological evolution of plant and animal communities.

The reserve includes more than 120 species of indigenous wild plants, in addition to endangered wildlife that live in one of the harshest environments on the planet, including the only free-range herd of Arabian oryx in the world, and mountain and sand antelope.

This makes it the richest biologically known area in the Empty Quarter, where the largest sand sea in the world meets the second longest mountain chain in the Arabian Peninsula, forming a unique natural painting rich in diversity despite the difficult climate.

Uruq Bani Maarid Reserve meets World Heritage standards as a sand desert that constitutes an exceptional panoramic view in the world of the sands of the Rub’ al-Khali desert, with some of the largest complex linear dunes in the world.

It embodies great universal value and contains a group of large-scale natural habitats that are vital for the survival of species. The main ones include five sub-groups of the Kingdom’s national ecosystems, which are vital for preserving biodiversity on site.

The inclusion of the “Uruq Bani Ma’arid” Reserve on the UNESCO World Heritage List was a result of the joint national efforts of the Ministry of Culture, the National Committee for Education, Culture and Science, the National Center for Wildlife Development, and the Heritage Authority, as part of the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, which is to reach the number of listed Saudi sites. (UNA)