December 15, 2022

Oryx walk the sands of NEOM for the first time in 100 years as part of NEOM’s Nature Reserve wildlife release initiative

  • NEOM marks first phase of rewilding efforts with the arrival of the first animals to its Nature Reserve
  • Initiative forms part of NEOM’s broader commitment to protecting 95% of its natural environment
  • Animals were provided by the National Center for Wildlife (NCW) and relocated with support from OXAGON, NEOM’s logistics hub

NEOM, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, December 15, 2022: NEOM, the sustainable region taking shape in northwest Saudi Arabia, has welcomed a special delivery of four species of native wildlife to its Nature Reserve. The initiative, launched in collaboration with NCW, marks the first phase of NEOM’s rewilding program, which represents an innovative and highly ambitious approach for conserving wildlife and showcasing the unique biodiversity of the region.

The animals, which include oryx, ibex, sand gazelles and mountain gazelles, arrived from NCW in Riyadh in late October, with NEOM engaging relocation support from the supply chain and logistics team based at its OXAGON hub to ensure their safety throughout the journey. After spending time in specially designed pens to acclimatize to their new environment, NEOM’s newest inhabitants were released into the larger reserve. This is a key first step in NEOM’s plans to make globally significant contributions to conservation.

Covering a vast area of 25,000 km2 and helping to deliver the nature conservation and environmental components of Vision 2030 and the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI), one of which is NCW wildlife breeding initiative, NEOM’s Nature Reserve aims to host one of the largest rewilding programs in the world. Residents, tourists, and wildlife will all have an opportunity to benefit from NEOM’s regreening and rewilding model, with the knowledge used to enhance other areas across the region.

Dr. Paul Marshall, Head of the NEOM Nature Reserve, said: “The wildlife release was an historical moment: this is the first time that oryx have walked the sands of NEOM for nearly 100 years. It was also a demonstration of our commitment to the protection of nature, which is at the core of NEOM’s vision. We aim to be at the forefront of redefining nature conservation and NEOM’s Nature Reserve provides an unrivaled landscape to support this aspiration. Through the establishment of a world-class protected area, we will be able to preserve 95% of NEOM’s land and sea for nature, and implement a science-based program of protection, restoration, and rewilding.”

Dr. Mohammed Qurban, CEO of the NCW, said: “Our partnership with NEOM aligns with the objectives of the national program for reintroducing endangered local species back into their natural ecosystems, one of the SGI initiatives. By supporting the Kingdom’s strategy for environmental conservation, this initiative contributes to sustainable development, promoting the growth of local ecosystems and ensuring their biodiversity. It also highlights NCW’s strong collaboration efforts with prominent local entities that share our goals.”

The arrival of the animals marks the first stage of NEOM’s wider nature restoration efforts, including a major regreening initiative which positions NEOM as a leading player seeking to restore wildlife abundance, reintroduce rare or locally near-extinct wildlife species, and ensure protection of wildlife from illegal hunting. 

NEOM’s Nature Reserve aims to provide a landscape of opportunity to implement innovations that tackle planetary problems, such as biodiversity loss and species extinctions. Through pioneering research partnerships, solution scaling and technology acceleration, NEOM will be at the forefront of accelerated efforts to protect our natural world.