email a friend
printable version
Location United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi
Central coordinates 52o 51.00' East  24o 56.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii, B1i, B1ii, B2, B3
Area 300 ha
Altitude 0 - 50m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

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).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus breeding  1992  50-200 breeding pairs  good  A4ii, B1ii  Least Concern 
Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis breeding  1975-1985  200 breeding pairs  medium  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
Sooty Gull Larus hemprichii breeding  1992  215 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis breeding  1992  500 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1992  4,000 breeding pairs  medium  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 


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
other minor
Notes: Some harvesting of Larus hemprichii eggs by fishermen occurs.

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Colin Richardson.

References Foxall (1985), Hellyer (1989), Richardson (1989).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Qarnayn island. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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