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24 INCENTIVES Activities


THE GREAT OUTDOORS


DUNE-BASHING SESSIONS IN THE ARABIAN DESERT OR EXPLORING EXOTIC AQUATIC LIFE BENEATH THE OCEAN Ð WHATEVER YOUR PREFERENCE, THE KINGDOM HAS A RANGE OF LEISURELY AND HIGH-OCTANE PURSUITS TO INDULGE IN.


The landscape of Saudi Arabia is vast and varied, from the immense and uninhabit- able desert to its verdant forests and moun- tain ranges, to the wondrous coral reefs along the coastline. This diversity provides numerous opportunities for outdoor activi- ties from scuba diving to rock climbing and everything in between.


Nature or nurture For the wildlife enthusiasts there is over 100,000 square kilometres of wildlife reserve under preservation by the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation & Development (NCWCD), and while written permission is necessary to visit the parks, many have camping facilities. Most of the mountain landscapes around


Asir are abundant with native wildlife, including the protected Arabian leopard.


Harrat al Harrah Protected Area The Harrat al Harrah Protected Area cov- ers 13,775 square kilometres of exposed


saudiarabia 2011


sedimentary rock, where vegetation grows amid basaltic rock, the remains of old lava flows, which is barren. After a heavy rain shower, this area and other desert areas in the province have a lush growth of wildflowers and plants. The area hosts a variety of wildlife including wolf, jackal, reem, hyena, rabbits, lizards, houbara bustard and other birds that a Bedouin could usefully hunt for dinner, like the stone curlew, desert hare and gazelle.


Al-Hasa The Al-Hasa Lagoons, the only large body of fresh water in the Eastern Province, were created by an overflow from the Al-Hasa oasis. There is also a long, narrow river which flows into the lagoons with many intercon- nected pools. The surrounding countryside is a mixture of sand dunes, salt pans and beautiful, wind formed sand fields. The larger pools, or lagoons, have been identified as an 'important bird area' by Bird- Life International.


The area is also a lively ecosystem sup- porting a wide range of oasis fish, frogs and pond turtles. However, the site is regularly disturbed by shooting and hunting, particu- larly at weekends.


Tarut Bay Tarut Bay is the Gulf coast's most important bay for wintering and passage shorebirds. It is also the largest shrimp nursery in the country. This large and shallow bay has one of the richest and most diverse 'inter-tidal' habitats in the Arabian Gulf. Tarut Bay has also been identified as an 'important bird area' by Bird- Life International and, as such, is protected by local coast guards. The area is famous for sea snakes, green turtles (Chelonia Mydas) and dugong.


The Raidah Protected Zone Although this is one of the smallest wildlife areas in the Kingdom, its steep walls and food abundance make it a wildlife oasis for many of Saudi Arabia's endangered species.


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