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Location Saudi Arabia, Ash Sharqiyah
Central coordinates 49o 29.50' East  27o 4.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i
Area 2,800 ha
Altitude 5 m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Saudi Wildlife Commission (Affiliate)

Site description 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.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta breeding  1993-1995  45-120 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  1992-1995  480 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus passage  1992-1995  3,500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Not Recognised 
Charadrius alexandrinus winter  1992-1995  2,800 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Not Recognised 
Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus passage  1992-1995  1,800 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus winter  1991  402 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres passage  1992-1995  700 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Dunlin Calidris alpina passage  1992-1995  11,340 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Dunlin Calidris alpina winter  1992-1995  8,650 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea passage  1992-1995  3,100 individuals  good  B1i  Near Threatened 
Broad-billed Sandpiper Calidris falcinellus passage  1992-1995  1,100 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Larus cachinnans winter  1991  118-1,200 individuals  poor  B1i  Not Recognised 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1993  20,000 individuals  good  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2013 medium not assessed low

Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant 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)
Artificial - aquatic   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
water management 100%
hunting minor

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

References Evans and Keijl (1993a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Sabkhat al-Fasl lagoons. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife