Al-Mansoori, Noura, and Himansu Sekhar Das. 2024. “Seagrasses of the United Arab Emirates.” Pp. 267–85 in A Natural History of the Emirates, edited by J. A. Burt. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland.
The Arabian Gulf’s coastal and marine ecosystems are being negatively impacted by various factors such as population growth, coastal development, industrial and desalination plant discharge, and offshore oil and gas activities. However, seagrass meadows continue to show resilience and provide ecosystem values and services. This paper provides an overview of the seagrass meadows in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in terms of their extent, species composition, threats, and conservation initiatives. The UAE’s coastline supports three seagrass species that are home to numerous marine species such as dugongs, green sea turtles, fish, and benthic invertebrates. With an area of around 2950 km2, subtidal seagrasses grow to a depth of 16 m and are one of the largest marine ecosystems in the Emirates. Seagrass beds also contribute significantly to blue carbon, with Abu Dhabi seagrasses estimated to have over 52 tonnes per hectare. The primary threats to seagrass meadows include dredging, landfill, and associated sedimentation, as well as environmental extremes such as high summer sea temperatures. However, conservation initiatives such as marine protected areas (MPAs) and federal laws have been implemented to protect these crucial coastal ecosystems.
Figure 9.2 UAE coastline showing seagrass areas, the location of marine protected areas and the occurrence of oyster beds. Source: Fig. 4 in Mateos-Molina et al. (
UAE coastline showing seagrass areas, the location of marine protected areas and the occurrence of oyster beds. Source: Fig. 4 in Mateos-Molina et al. (