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Location United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi
Central coordinates 52o 43.00' East  24o 23.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B1i, B2, B3
Area 190 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description These three islands in the south-eastern Arabian Gulf are north and east of the large inshore island of Sir Bani Yas. Umm al Kirkum is low and rocky, c.2 km long in a U-shape. The mouth of the U is partly closed off by a sandbar, forming a lagoon where a few mangrove Avicennia trees grow; the remainder of the island is covered in sparse salt-tolerant shrubs and grass. Ghasha is low, flat and sandy, with slab sandstone rocks on its eastern and northern aspect. Most of this island is fairly thickly covered in salt-tolerant bushes, with some sparse grass; the centre of the island is more thinly vegetated. Umm Qaser is 2 km east of Umm al Kirkum and is more or less circular, surrounded by a 3-4 m high rocky cliff and a few narrow, steep sand beaches. All the islands are ringed by coral reefs.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. These islands are an important seabird breeding site, although only once surveyed in any detail (July 1991). Pandion haliaetus also breeds (min. 2 pairs).

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
Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis breeding  1992  200 breeding pairs  poor  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi breeding  1992  24 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1992  2,250 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  1992  2,800 breeding pairs  medium  B1i  Least Concern 


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture minor
tourism/recreation minor

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Colin Richardson (per Adrian Chapman).

References Chapman (1991).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Islands off Sir Bani Yas island. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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