Published: Wednesday 31 May 1995

Endangered species may just about find a safe haven in the Arabian desert. Regional governments in the oil-rich Gulf have poured in billions of dollars into the transformation of dry, dusty deserts to terraform them into natural sanctuaries.

Among the recent success stories is Saudi Arabia's transformation of a vast desert into the Uruq Bani Ma'arid reserve. The sanctuary, which houses around 100 Reem gazelles and oryxes, is supervised by the Saudi Wildlife Protection Commission with the aid of helicopters and wireless devices attached to the animals. In the United Arab Emirates, the Sir Bani Yas Island is now home to 35,000 animals and birds from the Gulf, India, Africa, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

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