An artificial, permanently flowing river of treated effluent run-off, running for 50 km along Wadi Hanifah, 25 km south of Riyadh. The river flows mostly between rocky cliffs, incorporating many pools fringed with reeds and Tamarix. In several places wide lagoons are formed between sand-dunes, and there are some adjacent small and medium-sized pivot-irrigation farms.
See box for key species. Other breeding species include Ixobrychus minutus, Ardeola ralloides, Ardea purpurea and Acrocephalus scirpaceus. Other wintering species include Ciconia nigra, Aquila clanga (20) and Circus aeruginosus (17). Over 220 species have been recorded.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Part of the river is an established NCWCD protected area, patrolled by NCWCD rangers on behalf of the Riyadh Development Authority since 1988. Agricultural development in the area often changes the natural water flow, and plans exist to use the effluent for other purposes which would cut the water supply to the wadi by over 80%.
Data-sheet compiled by P. Symens.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Al-Ha'ir. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 19/10/2021.