A group of granitic mountains with at least 20 peaks over 2,000 m, rising from 700 m to a maximum of 2,549 m (Jabal Fayhan, the tallest mountain in northern Arabia and high enough to have snow in winter). There is some permanent running water and the rocky high mountain habitats are densely vegetated in places, with clear zoning. Retama raetam scrub dominates the wadis; trees include Pistacia, Ficus, Salix and (on the summit) some stunted Juniperus. Acacia trees/bushes are only found below 1,200 m. The area is remote and very sparsely populated.
See box for key species. Other residents include Aquila verreauxii (min. one pair), Alectoris chukar (numerous; the only site in Saudi Arabia), Cercomela melanura, Nectarinia osea, Lanius excubitor, Corvus rhipidurus and Rhodopechys githaginea.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Capra nubiana (I) and possibly Gazella gazella (V). Flora: the site is of high botanical interest; species include wild date palm Phoenix dactylifera, wild almond Prunus dulcis (only site in Arabia), wild tulip Tulipa biflora (one of two sites in Arabia).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site is threatened by grazing, tree-cutting, road construction and military development. It is proposed as a Natural Reserve, Biological Reserve and Resource Use Reserve in the NCWCD System Plan for Protected Areas. The area is relatively little-known biologically and further surveys would be advantageous.
Data-sheets compiled by P. Symens and M. C. Jennings.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Jabal al-Lawz. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/01/2022.