Al Khobar Climate –Saudi Arabia Flora

“Al Khobar lies on 15m above sea level. Al Khobar’s climate is a desert one. During the year, there is virtually no rainfall. This location is classified as BWh by Köppen and Geiger. The average annual temperature is 26.6 °C | 79.9 °F in Al Khobar. In a year, the rainfall is 76 mm | 3.0 inch.”

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Twenty thousand years ago, when the world was passing through an ‘ice age’,
much of the water now in the sea was locked up in great ice sheets and the sea level was
about 120 m lower than it is today. The Gulf was dry. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers
flowed along the coast of Iran and met the sea at the Strait of Hormuz. The sea only
reached its present level about five thousand years ago. The plant and animal
communities living in the Gulf have therefore only been here for a relatively short period
of time.

Published in First Saudi Arabian National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2001

“The flora of Saudi Arabia is moderately well known at the taxonomic level (see
bibliography) and species richness of the 15 Protected Areas administered by the
National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, as well as many of
the areas under the administration of the Ministry of Agriculture is well documented.
Hence the relationships of the flora to surrounding areas, as well as the numbers of
endemic taxa are well established. The 2,250 species of flowering plants in Saudi Arabia
belong to 132 families and 837 genera. About 105 species inhabit sand dunes, 90 are
halophytes, 75 are trees and 12 are aquatic plants. No families or genera of flowering
plants are endemic, but there are some 246 species that are considered regionally
endemic. The influence of the floras of neighboring countries, particularly Yemen and
Oman, is high on the flora of Saudi Arabia.
About 450 species (18%) of flowering plants have direct benefit to man and 45
species (1.8%) are poisonous
. Some 334 species (13.4%) are used in folk medicine or are
known to have medicinal value. Thirty-eight species are important palatable fodder
plants, 6 are important as fuel-wood, 25 species are human food plants and 47 species are
used as ornamentals or for other purposes.
Related to the modest numbers of species and levels of endemism, most families
of flowering plants have only a very small proportion of their worldwide total numbers of
species found in Saudi Arabia. Exceptions are two small families, the Ceratophyllaceae
and Barbeyaceae, in which all known species occur in the Kingdom.

In contrast with the flowering plants, gymnosperms, pteridophytes, bryophytes, and algae
are not as well known. However, as the bibliography and annexes show, some groundbreaking work has been done on some groups.”

Published in First Saudi Arabian National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2001 Ceratophyllaceae
Photo gallery Barbeyaceae

The following points summarise the major threats to plant diversity in Saudi Arabia.”

  1. “Overgrazing and/or poor management of rangeland resources
    • Deterioration of rangelands, primarily due to over use. This has dramatically
    increased unpalatable species and virtual disappearance of palatable species and
    increased desertification over vast areas. Most rangelands in the Kingdom are
    degraded and have impoverished species diversity.
    • Use of trees and shrubs as fuel wood. In most cases this is not for subsistence but
    rather for recreational camping use.
  2. Agriculture
    • Changes in agricultural practises and expansion of areas cultivated. Especially in
    the south-western region, abandonment, dereliction due to neglect and enlarging
    of farm areas lead to loss of terraces. This in turn leads to loss of micro-habitats
    for plants and concomitantly, animals as well as increasing soil erosion and flash
    • Changes in practises and use of “imported” varieties may results in loss of
    landraces of crops, and hence loss of agro-biodiversity. This results in erosion of
    the genetic material in the country and a loss of a national resource.
    • Absence of protected areas where natural stands of wild progenitors of domestic
    plants can survive.
    • Loss of traditional knowledge because of changes in practises.
    • Adoption of unsuitable agricultural practices, especially excessive use of water,
    which results in increase in surface soil salinity with concomitant changes in plant
    species composition.
    • Migration of people from rural areas to cities.
  3. Pollution
    Dumping of waste (especially in wadis and pools), industrial and urban pollution
    and land filling of coastal and marine areas.
  4. Recreation activities.
    Off-road driving and excessive, unsustainable or poorly regulated recreational use
    of natural areas causes direct damage and general degradation to ecosystems in
    already harsh environments.
  5. Population growth and expansion of urban areas
    Urban development (especially rapid and extensive development in the sensitive
    and species-rich areas in the south-western mountains) and road building damage or
    reduce habitats as well as causing changes in ecosystem functioning.
  6. The as yet poorly understood, widespread, dieback of Juniperus species woodlands.
    This has changed the structure of the woodlands and in some areas a community
    characterised by species of Acacia and associated under-story plants is replacing the
    juniper community. Faunal elements are likely to also change in concert with the
    changes in vegetation.
  7. Exotic plants pose threats in isolated areas and habitats in Saudi Arabia, largely
    because of severity of the climate. However, in some ecosystems (notably aquatic
    systems), exotic species pose an added dimension of threat to a flora that is already
    under stress.”

Published in First Saudi Arabian National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2001

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