RIYADH: The King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Reserve Development Authority held its first astrotourism event in Al-Tubayq recently, with astronomy enthusiasts gathering to watch the convergence of the Moon and Jupiter.
The event was held in partnership with the University of Tabuk, and forms part of the authority’s plan to showcase the country’s unspoilt natural habitats for eco- and astro-tourists.
Away from urban light pollution, the stargazers were able to watch the celestial movements through telescopes and take photographs, while university staff provided information on the event at the King Salman Royal Nature Reserve.
Recently, the KSRNR and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, signed an agreement to manage and protect the area in line with global conservation standards.
The KSRNR, located in the north of the Kingdom, is an ancient heritage destination. It stretches over 130,700 square kilometers toward the Northern Borders region and incorporates three existing conservation areas: Harrat Al-Harrah, Al-Tubayq and Al-Khanfah.
The reserve contains more than 280 animal species and is home to some 450 plants, with an array of landscapes including sand dunes, mountains and valleys.
Speaking at a two-day event with the IUCN earlier this month, Abdullah Al-Amer, CEO of KSRNR, said: “The nature reserve’s global measures and standards seminar highlights the importance of applying the best global standards adopted by the IUCN, as well as how to enable and measure performance in reserve areas.”
Al-Amer told Arab News the Kingdom established The Royal Reserve Council and published its National Environment Strategy in 2018 to protect the country’s wildlife in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
The agreement with the IUCN includes conservation management, education initiatives, exhibitions, and exchange of knowledge.
The authority also announced its commitment to joining the Green List of the IUCN, a global certification program that aims to ensure conservation efforts align with international standards, and include the involvement of local communities.