Qarnain Island

Country/territory: United Arab Emirates

IBA Criteria met: A4, B2a, B3a, B3b (2017)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 300 ha

Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2017 high very unfavourable low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
A 2-km-long island in the southern Arabian Gulf between Qatar and the UAE, 180 km west-north-west of Abu Dhabi city. It is mostly composed of sabkhah and fairly flat sand, and there are two rocky peaks about 50 m high at the north end, with an outer shelf of limestone rock around the edge of the island, as well as patchy coral reef offshore. The low and level southern area of blown shell-sand is relatively well-vegetated (low shrubs of Suaeda and Salsola) but this becomes sparse in the undulating hillocks of the north due to the barren subsoil and the former presence of a Phalacrocorax nigrogularis roost/colony. There is some habitation with a small permanent population, including a desalination plant and a navigation station.

Key biodiversity
A very important seabird breeding site: see box for key species (data are from 1984). Other breeding species include Sterna bergii (100 pairs) and Pandion haliaetus (one pair).

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: important for the breeding sea-turtles Chelonia mydas (E), Caretta caretta (V) and Eretmochelys imbricata (E).

Data-sheet compiled by Colin Richardson.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Qarnain Island. Downloaded from on 20/03/2023.