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Arabian Peninsula coastal fog desert (AT1302)

Arabian Peninsula coastal fog desert
Jebel Qamar, Oman
Photograph by WWF/ Hartmut Jungius


Western Asia: Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia
Deserts and Xeric Shrublands

32,000 square miles (83,000 square kilometers) -- about the size of Maine and Rhode Island combined

· Desert and Fog
· Special Features
· Did You Know?
· Wild Side
· Cause for Concern
More Photos

Desert and Fog

Imagine standing on Oman's Jiddat al Harasis stony plateau on a day of dense fog. You can see almost nothing--visibility has been reduced to 33 feet (10 m). A silent gloom surrounds you and you hesitate to even take a step. But then you hear the sounds of delicate footsteps near you--not human footsteps, but those of oryx and gazelles walking as they graze. You're reminded then that where you're standing isn't a gloomy spot at all, but a remarkable habitat for many rare Arabian creatures.

Special Features Special Features

This ecoregion covers the coastal strip of most of the western and eastern edges of the Arabian Peninsula. It follows the coast of Oman, including the Jiddat al Harasis plateau and the Dhofar mountains, then reaches into Yemen and up into Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea coast. Dense fog is the definitive characteristic of Oman and Yemen’s east coast, the result of sea breezes causing a rapid drop in temperature and increase in humidity. The fog supplements rainfall to nourish luxuriant vegetation and dense woodlands that give way to desert past the fog's zone of influence. The Tihamah coastal plain receives little or no rainfall but can record high levels of humidity.

Did You Know?
Caracals are short-tailed wild cats. Although they stand only about 16 to 18 inches (40 to 45 cm) tall at the shoulder, they prey on mammals as big as gazelles!

Wild Side

A mixture of dense woodlands, grasslands, and succulent shrubland covers most of this ecoregion. These habitats are home to a great many animal species. In the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary you can find Arabian white oryx, Arabian gazelles, Arabian sand gazelles, caracals, honey badgers, Ruppell's sand foxes, red foxes, and Nubian ibex. In Oman's Dhofar region lives Arabia's largest population of Arabian leopards. Arabian wolves, wildcats, and striped hyenas prowl through the ecoregion in the company of smaller mammals, including Blanford's foxes, genets, hedgehogs, rock hyraxes, and Cape hares. White-browed coucals call with 15 descending "hoos" in the early morning. Arabian warblers flit among the trees.

Cause for Concern

The primary threat to the vegetation of this ecoregion, and in turn to the wildlife that depends on it, is overgrazing by goats, camels, and cattle owned by tribal pastoralists. Cutting of wood for fodder, timber, and firewood is also a major problem. Off-road vehicles have damaged soils and vegetation on the Dhofar coastal plain and mountains. And a growing human population is leading to an increase in roads, houses, and other development in this region.

For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.

All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001