Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1985 and was officially declared as a protected area on March 1, 1998 by Local Order No. 2 of 1998.
Habitat and land use
There are three main habitats: mangrove, mudflat and sabkha.
Mangrove: (1) The mean density of mangrove trees in the sampled area ranged from 12 to 17 trees per 100 m2 with an average tree density of 15 trees per 100 m2; (2) The mean density of mangrove saplings in the sampled area ranged from 12 to 19 saplings per square metre with an average sapling density of 15 trees per square metre. (3) The mean heights of the mangrove trees ranged from 4.2 to 8.1 m with an overall average of 6.2 m. The mean stem diameter at breast height (DBH at height of 1.3 m) ranged from 31.3 to 48.9 cm, with an overall average of 39.5 cm. (4) GIS map analyses through the 13-year time period from 2000 to 2013 indicated a total expansion of the canopy density of the mangrove communities in RAKWS by 24.3 hectares, from 16.8 hectares in 2000 to 41.1 hectares in 2013.
Mudflat: Thirty-one benthic fauna species belonging to 3 phyla representing 6 classes were recorded in the mudflats. Polychaete dominates the area where most of the migrant waders are observed during the winter season.
Sabkha: Southern part – just after the fence, but before the road leading to the core of the sanctuary, is dominated by Tamarix aucheriana. Eastern part – this part is dominated by two species, Halocnemum strobilaceum and Arthrocnemum macrostachyum. Southwestern part – this part is dominated by Halocnemum strobilaceum. Individual stands of Tamarix aucheriana are also prominent in the area, particularly near the reeds area.
Land-uses comprise: biodiversity conservation; ecotourism; development projects; maritime waterway.