DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve has officially been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, it was announced on Wednesday.
This marks the Kingdom’s first UNESCO Natural Heritage Site on the list.
The decision – announced by Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, the Saudi minister of culture – was taken during the extended 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh between Sept. 10-25.
“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,” the minister of culture said in a released statement.
The Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve is situated along the western edge of Ar-Rub al-Khali, The Empty Quarter. It is making a name for itself with its unique vistas, diverse wildlife and eco-tourism offerings.
It occupies an area of over 12,750 km2 and is the only major sand desert in tropical Asia and the largest continuous sand sea on Earth.
It is a 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.
The inscription of the Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve adds to the six other Saudi UNESCO sites, which are 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.