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Location Saudi Arabia, Ash Sharqiyah
Central coordinates 49o 34.80' East  27o 18.80' North
IBA criteria A4i, B1i, B3
Area 12,500 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Saudi Wildlife Commission (Affiliate)

Site description Two long, elevated inshore Gulf islands (Abu Ali and Batinah) north-east of Jubail, linked to each other and to the mainland by causeways. They consist largely of sabkhah and sandsheets, the latter becoming very well-vegetated with grasses and herbs after winter rains. The exposed northern shores are mainly sand beach with fringing reefs in places, while on the sheltered south side there are intertidal flats of sand and sand-mud, bordered by large saltmarshes. A shallow, brackish pond is present near the eastern tip and there are several smaller islands in the enclosed southern bay. There are oil installations and small traditional fishing camps, and the site is used for weekend recreation.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. Vast numbers of Sterna saundersi/S. albifrons congregate to moult after the breeding season, as do large numbers of other tern species (see box). Breeding birds include Charadrius alexandrinus, Alaemon alaudipes, Calandrella rufescens and possibly Pandion haliaetus. Other wintering species include Larus genei (1,267). Numerous migrating passerines use the site as a stop-over in spring, and good numbers are present in winter.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo winter  1991  2,603-8,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Crab-plover Dromas ardeola passage  1993  135 individuals  good  B3  Least Concern 
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis passage  1993  4,800 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis passage  1993  2,000-3,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi breeding  1993  8-12 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi passage  1993  14,000 individuals  medium  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1993  120-250 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa passage  1993  8,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2013 medium not assessed low

Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Not assessed  low 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea   minor
Coastline   major
Desert   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
urban/industrial/transport minor
tourism/recreation minor
fisheries/aquaculture minor
military major

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

Related state of the world's birds case studies

References Evans and Keijl (1993a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Abu Ali. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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