Sabkhat al-Fasl lagoons

Country/territory: Saudi Arabia

IBA criteria met: A4i, A4iii, B1i (1994)
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Area: 2,800 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2013 not assessed medium low
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Site description (1994 baseline)
Evaporation lagoons on the south-west border of Jubail Industrial City. The site consists of a large sabkhah area surrounded by landfill and divided up by sand dams, fed by excess treated organic waste-water which produces a large biomass of microflora and -fauna. The water is very shallow (0-30 cm) and is influenced by wind, creating a tidal effect as wind direction changes. Rainwater is a secondary source of water; after heavy winter rains the water surface can be more than doubled, occasionally reaching 2,500 ha. Water is fed into the site only from October to May, and the lagoons can dry out from the end of July, but in years with good rains a water area of c.100-150 ha remains all summer. Three large concrete reservoirs (c.100 ha) are included in the site. These, and some parts of the edge of the sabkhah, are vegetated with reedbeds Phragmites and Tamarix scrub.

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. Other breeding species include Phoenicopterus ruber (unsuccessful attempts) and Acrocephalus scirpaceus (suspected). Other wintering species include Phoenicopterus ruber (1,200) and more than 5,000 ducks, including Anas penelope, A. strepera, A. crecca, A. platyrhynchos, A. acuta and A. clypeata. The site is used by large numbers of waders on passage (see box), including Calidris alba (657, April-May) and Tringa stagnatilis (184, August-October), and Falco peregrinus is a regular passage migrant (max. seasonal total 20) and winter visitor (daily max. 1-3).

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Sabkhat al-Fasl lagoons. Downloaded from on 05/10/2023.