4 Feb 2012

Al-Asfar Lake - Location Details

Al-Asfar Lake is situated 13 kilometres east of Al-Hassa and is one of the most important shallow wetland lakes in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Al-Hassa is the largest oasis in the world, being approximately 20,000 hectares in size, as well as being one of the largest and oldest agriculatural centres in Saudi Arabia. An irrigation system was put in place in 1971 and delivers 328,000,000 cubic metres of spring water to about 22,000 farms, with additional water supplied by treated wastewater from Al-Hofouf sewage station. The excess drainage water is collected by a drainage network and discharged into two evaporation lakes which are called Al-Asfar & Al-Uyoun. The lake has good wetlands, sabkhas and sand dunes as well as large expanses of open water. Salt tolerant vegetation is present in some of the sabkha areas and huge stands of Phragmites reeds occur around much of the lake. The habitat is very important for wildlife and birds in particular and is not something you would expect to find in a large desert. It is good for winter duck as well as breeding waders such as Kentish Plover and may be suitable for Pied Avocet to breed? It is possible to reach the site in a two-wheel drive car but the sabkha is soft in many places and there is a lot of evidence of people who have got stuck there, so please be cautious. A four-wheel drive car would be better but this still does not guarantee getting stuck although a number of well used tracks go to and around the lake and if you stick to these you should be alright. The lake is situated about 130 kilometres from Dhahran.

Specialities seen at the site:-
Little Grebe
Squacco Heron
Pied Avocet
Kentish Plover
Common Pochard
Ruddy Shelduck
Marsh Harrier
Greater Spotted Eagle
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Moustached Warbler


  1. I've been lucky enough to visit Al Safar many times, but unfortunately, I don't have a very good birding backgound. Now that I've discovered this site. I think that's about to change. Good job and thanks!

    1. Adam,

      Glad you are able to visit as it is a really good site. If you see any interesting birds there please let me know as it is very underwatched, like many places in KSA.


  2. Hello! I love your website and love reading about birds in Saudi. We live near Hofuf, and I was wondering if you had GPS coordinates to the lake. We find it's hard to stop and ask for directions here. :) THanks so much!

  3. Hi Jem...I visited Al Asfar twice since I arrived in Al Hasa and discovered many conspicuous absences. While there were a few hundred Great Cormorant, not a single duck was to be seen, and while I found huge numbers of Little Egret and some Squacco Herons about I could not turn up a single Grey Heron or Great Egret. Is it something about the water chemistry, maybe the salinity level, that turns off certain species?

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