Not so empty, then: Saudi develops wildlife sanctuary and camps to boost Empty Quarter tourism
The Arabian oryx can be found in the Empty Quarter. (Twitter)
The Kingdom has been developing Oroug Bani Maradh as a protected area for eco-tourism in the heart of the Empty Quarter.
Aside from a number of live flora and fauna, there’s are non-domesticated animal species in the wildlife sanctuary located on the western edge of the Empty Quarter (Rub’ Al Khali) some 200 km southeast of Riyadh.
Hamad bin Hadi Al-Qahtani, Oroug Bani Maradh director, said that the National Commission for Wildlife and Conservation Development (NCWCD), seeks to maintain a balanced ecosystem and diversity in the area after rehabilitating the environments, including resettlement of endangered species.
Briefing a media tour recently, Al-Qahtani said various programs had been implemented in the reserve and that 20 camps are being planned to be set up before the end of the year.
“The camps will be operated by a tour operator for guests or visitors who need to stay for some time,” Al-Qahtani told online publication Sabq.
The project will be jointly undertaken by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA).
SWA has been mandated to prepare and implement plans to sustain terrestrial and marine wildlife, and rehabilitate rare and endangered species and their habitat.
Al-Qahtani said that the protected area represents an important environmental education site through the awareness of environmental programs carried out by NCWCD for citizens and residents around the parks.
He added that the citizens and residents play a role in preserving biodiversity, specifically vegetation, to ensure the continuity of pasture regeneration and sustainability in the protected area.
Protected area contains sandy plateaus and limestone (sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite) and are punctuated by valleys and picturesque scenery.
“It has the advantage of being developed for eco-tourism purposes. You can find Arabian oryx, gazelles, among others, in the area,” he said.
Orouq Bani Maradh is one of 16 protected areas being developed in the Kingdom. The Kingdom started setting aside land for protection of natural habits, flora and fauna in 1978.
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