Gulf coral islands

Country/territory: Saudi Arabia

IBA criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3 (1994)
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Area: 2,000 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2013 not assessed high low
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Site description (1994 baseline)
Five uninhabited coral islands (Harqus 27°56'N 49°41'E, Karan 27°44'N 49°50'E, Kurayn 27°39'N 49°50'E, Jana 27°22'N 49°54'E, Jurayd 27°11'N 49°52'E) in the northern Arabian Gulf, 35-90 km offshore. Island areas range from 2 to 120 ha (total c.190 ha), with a maximum elevation of 3-4 m, and they are surrounded by extensive, shallow coral reefs. There are wide, sand beach platforms, and the central parts of the larger islands are well-vegetated with Salsola and Suaeda, and Mesembryanthemum after good rains. The islands support local fisheries, and are valuable for recreational diving.

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. The site is considered to be the most important breeding site for Sterna bengalensis in the world. See box for key species (numbers of terns are 1991-1993 three-year-averages). Other breeding species include Galerida cristata, Melanocorypha bimaculata (irregular) and Calandrella brachydactyla (irregular). The islands are used as a stopover site by considerable numbers of passage migrants (mainly passerines), especially in spring.

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: important breeding populations of sea-turtles Eretmochelys imbricata (E) and Chelonia mydas (E). Invertebrates: the surrounding coral reefs are thought to be the best-developed and most diverse in the Gulf.

Data-sheet compiled by P. Symens and A. Suhaibani.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Gulf coral islands. Downloaded from on 28/11/2023.