Feb 21

“For centuries, an exotic but forbidden land has captured our imagination…Now, for the first time, we can explore this place of myth and legend.”

Sand dune habitat of the common sandfish

Much of Arabia is covered by vast deserts with towering sand dunes

Promising a land of magic and surprise, the BBC is launching its new three-part nature documentary series, ‘Wild Arabia’, this Friday. The series will explore the awe-inspiring deserts of Arabia, travelling across the peninsula and filming in extreme conditions to bring us a collection of stunning time-lapses, wildlife encounters and insights into the lives of the Arabian people.

We can expect to see Bedouin nomads, sand storms, festivals and camel races, but most exciting for us in the ARKive office will be the spectacular array of wildlife.

Male Arabian leopard

For the first time, the private life of the elusive Arabian leopard has been caught on camera

Perhaps most anticipated is the up-close and personal glimpse into the life of the Critically Endangered Arabian leopard, one of the most secretive predators in the world. A close second is striking footage of a nimble lesser Egyptian jerboa narrowly outmanoeuvring a desert fox. Be prepared for slow motion and drama in this sequence!

Arabian oryx males fighting

Arabian oryx were once extinct in the wild

Other stars of the show will include the magnificent Arabian oryx, the fearless striped hyaena and the formidable Arabian fat-tailed scorpion, which takes on a mysterious appearance under UV light. The Egyptian spiny-tailed lizard that changes colour with temperature will also make an appearance, as will the honey badger, a brave raider of honey bee nests. Moving into the ocean, we will see favourites such as migratory green turtles, and gentle whale sharks.

Whale shark filter feeding, surrounded by other smaller fish

The whale shark is the largest fish in the world

As well as exploring the characteristic sand dunes and date palm oases, we will also be taken deep underground to find the mystifying source of oasis water in Oman, into the heart of cloud forests, and high into the Dhofar Mountains.

Rüppell’s fox, front view

Rüppell’s fox is small and elusive

We hope you are eagerly anticipating this new series just as much as we are. In-depth information on many of the species expected to feature can be found here on ARKive, and for a peek at the many habitats and species that parts of Arabia have to offer, check out our Jewels of the UAE topic page.

If the beautiful Arabian oryx caught your attention, watch this video on its conservation on ARKive’s YouTube Channel, also featuring the scimitar-horned oryx which is classified as Extinct in the Wild.

Sneak previews, an episode guide and (some humorous) behind the scenes stories from the series can be found on the BBC Wild Arabia page.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author