An Introduction to the Potential To Convert the Arabian Peninsula from Desert to Savannah

An Introduction to the Potential To Convert the Arabian Peninsula from Desert to Savannah

This is going to be a recurring theme on the site, and will take a great deal of writing and time to get through. But after you have read through this series you will understand the science, methods, and required steps to convert desert into productive landscape in a regenerative and permanent way (the micro) and also how I hope to see this achieved in the Arabian Peninsula (the macro).

The basis for this transformation is twofold.

First, it depends on understanding that people are the keystone species of the planet. Our systems of life and civilization have a tremendous impact on the world around us, and we have a history of mining the land through agriculture–leading to soil loss, drought, deforestation, pollution, and the extinction of many species.  We also have the ability to restore land to productivity, to take non-arable land and convert it to arable land. Through proper management we can build soil, increase biodiversity, restore wetlands and rivers, and rejuvenate aquifers, all while increasing the amount of food we produce.

Second, it depends on asking and knowing the answer to the following question:  What is the land able to produce if we cooperate with nature and its cycles?

Part 1 of this series will be a very brief, big picture overview of the geography, hydrology, climate, and natural history of the Arabian Peninsula.

Part II will be tying those in to the current disrupted functioning of the water and mineral cycles.

Part III will lay out the general strategy–identifying the edges where we can start and portraying a general picture of what it would look like in the early stages.

Part IV will be a further overview of the expected results from such an endeavor–economically, environmentally, and socially.

Part V will help you know what you can do to support what would be an enormous undertaking that would benefit the entire globe.


  1. Do you think aerial seeding has a part to play here? I’m imagining a large scale campaign to drop desert grass/shrub seeds onto thousands of square kilometers of unworked land after a flood has dampened the ground. Could it help rehabilitate the soil and kick start the water cycle? It seems like a cheap and easy way to make some improvements.

    • Hello Jay,
      I think it could have a part to play as long as the timing and the species selections were right. If there ever were perennial grasses in this region, they are long gone, and rains produce a flush of annual grasses, which just put out seed that will sit until the next flood comes. I tend to think trees will make a bigger impact on a large scale than grasses will, at least in terms of affecting the small water cycle, but grasses certainly have a part to play.

      • Also, do you feel that the Al Baydha project is picking up steam in KSA? Is the government or the public starting to show more interest? And have you considered talking to other gulf countries about starting new projects? Oman seems like a tempting location, as it has a decent sized mountain range and it is in the path of the monsoons. Maybe the foothills east of Dubai would be a good location as well, the UAE has shown some interest in environmental projects recently. Just some suggestions, I realize you probably have your hands full at Al Baydha for the time being.



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