Claim 5000463 - Intertidal Shoreline Preserves (MPA’s) (US$46,113,706)

    To compensate for the loss of ecological services such as of food chains, amenities, and general productivity that resulted from oil contamination and environmental damage to the shoreline, Saudi Arabia was awarded US$46,113,706 for the establishment of two shoreline preserves along the Gulf coast. After diligent environmental assessments, ‘offshore islands’ and Ras Abu Khamis area were identified as the sites with the most potential for the establishment of the marine preserves.

    The “Offshore or Gulf Islands” consist of a number of islands and potentially an additional number of reef structures that are exposed during low tides. Located between ~30 and 90 km northwest of Al Jubail, five principle islands (Jurayd, Jana, Kurayan, Karan, and Harqus) and a sixth (Al-Arabiyah) together with their surrounding coral reefs constitute the proposed location of the protected area. These islands are ideal candidates since they are relatively pristine but face threat from shipping, oil exploration, litter and other human influences.

   The Ras Abu Khamis area located in the southern-most part of Saudi Arabia’s eastern coast represents the only area that includes the biotopes characteristic of the Southern Gulf. This area is unique in its coastal geomorphology and ecological diversity and is adjacent to areas that have the potential for oil and gas production. The area is rich in biodiversity and provides important nesting/breeding habitat for birds, fishes, and mammals, notably dugongs. In addition, these areas include a variety of critical habitats such as reefs and reef flats, seagrasses, beaches, and rocky shorelines. The Ras Abu Khamis area is also considered to be one of the most scenic sections of Saudi Arabia's eastern coastline.

    At the time the mandate of the Programme was declared fulfilled in respect of Saudi Arabia, these preserves had not yet been designated as marine protected areas. A committee composed of Government Agencies was established to further evaluate and consider the proposed sites as well as potential alternative sites for designation taking into account security and political considerations. Final selection and designation will take place following the recommendations of the committee. The assurances given by Saudi Arabia at the time of UNCC disengagement provide that "should the future designation of the two preserves as supported by the Independent Reviewers and the Governing Council (Ras Abu Kamis Marine Zone and the Five Offshore Islands - Arabiyah, Jana, Jareed, Karan, and Qerain) not be possible, Saudi Arabia will identify alternative areas for designation that are consistent with the F4 Panel recommendations." Further, the award funds are to be set aside until such time as the marine preserves are established.