An open door to the Arab world


Country briefing






Special topics


Arts and culture







Arab countries straddle three of the world's largest deserts

Sand dunes 

Types of dunes 
(US Geological Survey)

The First Crossing of the Empty Quarter
by Wilfred Thesiger (from the book, "Arabian Sands")

The Physics of Blown Sand
by William Langewiesche (from the book, "Sahara Unveiled")

The Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent is a comparatively well-watered and fertile area of the Middle East which stretches eastwards in a semi-circle from the Mediterranean to the Gulf, broadly following the line of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It includes parts of Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. 

The Fertile Crescent 

The Fertile Crescent 
Historical background

Maps and images 
of the Fertile Crescent

The Iraqi marshes

The Marsh Arabs 

Iraq's Marsh Arabs in the Garden of Eden 
A photographic tour

Marsh Arabs, water diversion, and cultural survival 
ICE case study, 2001

Ancient fertile crescent almost gone, satellite images show  
National Geographic, 18 May 2001

Iraq's 'devastated' Marsh Arabs 
BBC, 3 March 2003

Plants and flowers

Argan: the tree of life 

The Argan tree
This remarkable tree grows in Morocco, surviving drought, preventing soil erosion and providing food for people and goats alike. (In French)

The Wonder Land of Socotra, Yemen 
Alan Burdick, New York Times, 25 March, 2007

Friends of Soqotra
Website includes information about the island's flora and fauna

Soqotra's Misty Future 



Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME)
Information for bird-watchers in the Arab world

The ancient sport of the Bedouin

The sea

Pearl hunting 

Pearl Diving
For hundreds of years, the finest pearls in the world were found in the waters of the Arabian Gulf

Fisheries Development in the Arab World 
By Izzat H Feidi. UN Food and Agriculture Organisation 


The black desert
Oil lakes, and other environmental consequences of the 1990 invasion. The Guardian, 16 August, 2000

Environmental and Economic Repercussions of the Persian Gulf War on Kuwait 
By Melissa Krupa. ICE Case Studies, May, 1997

The 1991 Gulf War: Environmental Assessments 
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources,1994

Jiyeh power station oil spill 
Lebanon, 2006. (Wikipedia)

Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment 
Lebanon, 2006. (United Nations Environment Program)

Environmental 'crisis' in Lebanon 
BBC, 31 July 2006

Lebanon oil slick 'hits seabed'
BBC, 23 August 2006

Lifting the Black Cloud
Cairo’s air pollution crisis has had a major impact on the health of its inhabitants and the environment.

Oil weapons
As used in the siege of Constantinople (680 CE)

Air pollution and traffic plague Damascus
( Tharwa Foundation)


The Arabian camel (dromedary) 

Camelus dromedarius
Its height, weight, habitat, diet, etc.

Camels and their cousins
The camel is related to the llama, the alpaca, the vicuna and the guanaco.


In the environment section




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Last revised on 05 August, 2015