The Jubail Marine Wildlife Sanctuary is located to the north of the Industrial City of Jubail along the eastern seaboard of Saudi Arabia. It covers an area of more than 2,000 square kilometres and includes the two shallow bays of Dawhat ad- Dafi and Dawhat al-Musallamiya, the stretch of coastline between Abu Ali and Ras az-Zaur and the five coral islands Harqus, Karan, Kurain, Jana and Juraid. The area was chosen as it contains good representative examples of all the main habitat types found along the western Arabian Gulf coast and includes highly productive bay areas important for local fisheries.

The health of the marine environment is directly affected by activities in the adjacent coastal zone. Loss of soil due to erosion causes sedimentation, residential and industrial development produce pollutants which are often released into the sea.

The Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia has a very gentle slope from west to east, an average of only 35 centimetres per kilometre. The typical scene is one of sand dunes blown by the wind into ridges which roll from north to south, with flat sandy plains and sabkhas. Where the sandy areas have more than an 8-10 % cover of vegetation they are stable and not moved by the wind. The sabkhas are too salty for higher plants and appear lifeless although they contain their own microbiota.

The distribution of the different habitats in this area is shown on the map found on page 2 and is caused by the climate and local geography. The Gulf has a hot, dry summer and a cool, wet winter. Temperatures over 40 DC occur during the day between April and September and cause high rates of water loss. During the winter months, from December to February, rainfall of 80-100 mm is common and temperatures regularly fall below 10 DC at night. These conditions produce the generally arid environment and are responsible for the high salinity and the temperature changes found in the shallow coastal bays.

Winds may blow throughout the year and are important in reducing the temperature, distributing sand and shaping the shore line. The usual wind direction is from the north or north-west but is more variable in the winter when southern or south-easterly winds may also be experienced. North-facing shores tend to be rocky or sandy in nature whereas southerly shores are more sheltered and muddy. Each habitat has its own community of plants and animals
Map of the Jubail Marine Wildlife Sanctuary