Farasan Islands set to find a place on UNESCO’s MAB List

The 286 Farasan Islands are one of the biggest island groups in the southern part of Red Sea.
The 286 Farasan Islands are one of the biggest island groups in the southern part of Red Sea.

Farasan, an archipelago comprising more than 200 islands, is located in the Red Sea; some 40 km offshore from the southern region of Jazan, in the far southwestern part of Saudi Arabia. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Kingdom.

It is a cultural and tourist treasure consisting of virgin islands with unspoiled beaches, serene blue waters; and rich marine fauna in a strategic location near the Bab Al-Mandab Strait. There are many historic palaces and heritage sites that were stations for halting and relaxation for cruise ships as well as for commercial and warships. In addition to its annual Hareed Fishing Festival that dates back to several decades ago but halted this year due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

The captivating features, the unique elements of life, and the pristine beauty of nature made the government of Saudi Arabia work out a comprehensive plan to develop these islands and preserve them and their culture. As part of this, the Kingdom is all set to complete the procedures to register the Farasan Islands Reserve; as the first Saudi natural reserve on the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) of UNESCO by the end of next month.

On his Twitter account, Prince Badr Bin Farhan, minister of culture and chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society, said: "We are working on submitting the file of the wonderful Farasan Islands Reserve to be registered in the UNESCO MAB List. Our country is precious with its people and its natural and cultural diversity."

Unique marine lifestyle

Farasan Islands is characterized by a unique marine lifestyle, not very similar to the way of life in ordinary cities. Most of the inhabitants live in the islands while some of them move in ships; while some others travel in sailboats, adjacent to marine creatures, with an attractive diversity between one island and the other.

Each island also contains historic and heritage sites dating back to ancient periods, established by cruise ships of countries and empires. In addition to an industrial history represented in the German coal depot during World War II. All this gives great historical significance to these islands, which have an estimated total area of 1050 square kilometers.

In Farasan, the way of life and activities depend mainly on marine life; starting from its pristine beaches and its colorful and shining waters on its banks. As one of the best diving locations in the Red Sea; divers can enjoy the marvel of coral reefs and rock formations at the bottom of the sea. Along with a wide variety of fish, such as whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, hareed, hamour, and red grouper (najil).

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