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Concept: Oman


Data on the occurrence of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman were collected by dedicated boat surveys and via a public-sightings scheme during the period from 2011 to 2014. A total of 422 individual whale sharks were photo-identified from the Arabian Gulf and the northern Gulf of Oman during that period. The majority of sharks (81%, n = 341) were encountered at the Al Shaheen area of Qatar, 90 km off the coast, with the Musandam region of Oman a secondary area of interest. At Al Shaheen, there were significantly more male sharks (n = 171) than females (n = 78; X2 = 17.52, P < 0.05). Mean estimated total length (TL) for sharks was 6.90 m ± 1.24 (median = 7 m; n = 296). Males (7.25 m ± 1.34; median = 8 m, n = 171) were larger than females (6.44 m ±1.09; median = 7 m, n = 78; Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.01). Of the male sharks assessed for maturity 63% were mature (n = 81), with 50% attaining maturity by 7.29 m and 100% by 9.00 m. Two female sharks of >9 m individuals were visually assessed as pregnant. Connectivity among sharks sighted in Qatari, Omani and UAE waters was confirmed by individual spot pattern matches. A total of 13 identified sharks were re-sighted at locations other than that at which they were first sighted, including movements into and out of the Arabian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. Maximum likelihood techniques were used to model an estimated combined population for the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman of 2837 sharks ± 1243.91 S.E. (95% C.I. 1720-6295). The Al Shaheen aggregation is thus the first site described as being dominated by mature males while the free-swimming pregnant females are the first reported from the Indian Ocean.

Concepts: Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Persian Gulf, Shark, Gulf of Oman, Oman, Strait of Hormuz


The influence of visitors on macroinvertebrates of rocky intertidal shores was investigated in southern coasts of the Qeshm Island, the Persian Gulf, Iran. Qeshm Island located at the Strait of Hormuz, with an area of 1,491 km(2), is the largest island in the region. This island consists of a number of important natural habitat types including creeks, mangroves, corals, and sandy, muddy, and rocky shores that accommodate diverse marine flora and fauna communities. Two rocky shores were selected at the touristic beaches being visited regularly, and further two control locations selected at pristine shores. Intertidal macroinvertebrates were collected from six microhabitats including rock platforms, cobbles, boulders, crevices, sea walls, and rock pools during two different periods representing high and low tourist seasons. Species richness, density, and assemblage structure in heavily visited shores were compared with that of control locations. Striped barnacles (Balanus amphitrite) were present on platforms of all locations, thus the changes in their size were used as the obvious contrast associated with visitor’s impact. A total of 70 macroinvertebrate species from 11 phyla were recorded. Significant differences were detected in taxonomic richness, density, and assemblage structure of macroinvertebrates between heavily visited and pristine shores, suggesting that macroinvertebrates were adversely affected by visitors' impact at heavily visited shores. The test of changes in species richness, density, and assemblage structure from high to low seasons yielded mixed results. The significant changes in density and assemblage structure from high to low seasons were only observed in one heavily visited shore. A significant reduction in size of striped barnacles was observed only in one heavily visited shore. The opportunistic or fugitive species (e.g., small macroalgae and barnacles) were dominant macroinvertebrates on heavily visited shores indicating early succession stage. The results presented here showed that macroinvertebrates were adversely affected by human activities in subtropical rocky shore.

Concepts: United Arab Emirates, Iran, Persian Gulf, Intertidal zone, Shore, Gulf of Oman, Oman, Strait of Hormuz


This study aimed to investigate the ecological risk assessment of Khamir, Tiyab, and Jagin estuaries and the impact of anthropogenic activities on these ecosystems during a one-year study period (April 2015 to March 2016) using trace metals as pollution indices. The sediment samples were collected from nine sampling stations, following a gradient of contamination from the industrial wastewater and shrimp farming effluents to the less impacted stations. Pollution indices (i.e. PERI and PLI) were applied to ascertain the sediment quality. Based on pollution indices, the overall pattern of environmental quality status demonstrated that industrial sewage and shrimp farming effluents are major sources of pollution in the Khamir and Tiyab estuaries, respectively. The sediments in the most stations in studied coastal ecosystems of Iran posed moderate or considerable ecological risk. Results from this study showed that Zn, Pb, Cu, and Cd were mostly derived from anthropogenic activities such as domestic sewage and industrial effluents. Also, the findings of this study revealed that the pollution indices are suitable for evaluating the environmental situation of coastal ecosystems and the separation of areas with less impacted by human activities from areas affected by these activities and could be used as a robust management tool for monitoring programs in coastal areas. Altogether, these findings could be useful in providing more effective and targeted strategies of development better management practices for coastal areas.

Concepts: Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Sewage treatment, Iran, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Oman, Strait of Hormuz


The increasing emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious public health issue. Increasing the awareness of the general public about appropriate antibiotic use is a key factor for combating this issue. Several public media campaigns worldwide have been launched; however, such campaigns can be costly and the outcomes are variable and difficult to assess. Social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, are now frequently utilized to address health-related issues. In many geographical locations, such as the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain), these platforms are becoming increasingly popular. The socioeconomic status of the GCC states and their reliable communication and networking infrastructure has allowed the penetration and scalability of these platforms in the region. This might explain why the Saudi Ministry of Health is using social media platforms alongside various other media platforms in a large-scale public awareness campaign to educate at-risk communities about the recently emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This paper discusses the potential for using social media tools as cost-efficient and mass education platforms to raise awareness of appropriate antibiotic use in the general public and in the medical communities of the Arabian Peninsula.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Qatar, Persian Gulf, Oman, Bahrain


Participation of women in the medical profession over several countries worldwide was increased over the past decades. This paper is a part of ongoing studies aiming at addressing the issue of health workforce feminization among doctors in the Sultanate of Oman as well as exploring the health system readiness in dealing with this phenomenon.

Concepts: Medicine, Physician, Yemen, Oman, Sultan


Fragmentary post-cranial remains (femora, tibia, vertebrae) of ornithischian dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous of the Sultanate of Oman are described and referred to hadrosauroids. The specimens come from the Al-Khod Conglomerate, of latest Campanian to Maastrichtian age, in the north-eastern part of the country. Although the fragmentary condition of the fossils precludes a precise identification, various characters, including the shape of the fourth trochanter of the femur and the morphology of its distal end, support an attribution to hadrosauroids. With the possible exception of a possible phalanx from Angola, this group of ornithopod dinosaurs, which apparently originated in Laurasia, was hitherto unreported from the Afro-Arabian plate. From a paleobiogeographical point of view, the presence of hadrosauroids in Oman in all likelihood is a result of trans-Tethys dispersal from Asia or Europe, probably by way of islands in the Tethys shown on all recent paleogeographical maps of that area. Whether hadrosauroids were widespread on the Afro-Arabian landmass in the latest Cretaceous, or where restricted to the « Oman island » shown on some paleogeographical maps, remains to be determined.

Concepts: Plate tectonics, Femur, Cretaceous, Dinosaur, Oman, Maastrichtian, Ornithischia, Late Cretaceous


The Hajar Mountains of south-eastern Arabia form an isolated massif surrounded by the sea to the east and by a large desert to the west. As a result of their old geological origin, geographical isolation, complex topography and local climate, these mountains provide an important refuge for endemic and relict species of plants and animals. With 19 species restricted to the Hajar Mountains, reptiles are the vertebrate group with the highest level of endemicity, becoming an excellent model for understanding the patterns and processes that generate and shape diversity in this arid mountain range. The geckos of the Ptyodactylus hasselquistii species complex are the largest geckos in Arabia and are found widely distributed across the Arabian Mountains, constituting a very important component of the reptile mountain fauna. Preliminary analyses suggested that their diversity in the Hajar Mountains may be higher than expected and that their systematics should be revised. In order to tackle these questions, we inferred a nearly complete calibrated phylogeny of the genus Ptyodactylus to identify the origin of the Hajar Mountains lineages using information from two mitochondrial and four nuclear genes. Genetic variability within the Hajar Mountains was further investigated using 68 specimens of Ptyodactylus from 46 localities distributed across the entire mountain range and sequenced for the same genes as above. The molecular phylogenies and morphological analyses as well as niche comparisons indicate the presence of two very old sister cryptic species living in allopatry: one restricted to the extreme northern Hajar Mountains and described as a new species herein; the other distributed across the rest of the Hajar Mountains that can be confidently assigned to the species P. orlovi. Similar to recent findings in the geckos of the genus Asaccus, the results of the present study uncover more hidden diversity in the northern Hajar Mountains and stress once again the importance of this unique mountain range as a hot spot of biodiversity and a priority focal point for reptile conservation in Arabia.

Concepts: Evolution, Species, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Reptile, Speciation, Oman, Al Hajar Mountains


The Arabian Gulf is the warmest sea in the world and is host to a globally significant population of the whale shark Rhincodon typus. To investigate regional whale shark behaviour and movements, 59 satellite-linked tags were deployed on whale sharks in the Al Shaheen area off Qatar from 2011-14. Four different models of tag were used throughout the study, each model able to collect differing data or quantities of data. Retention varied from one to 227 days. While all tagged sharks crossed international maritime boundaries, they typically stayed within the Arabian Gulf. Only nine sharks dispersed through the narrow Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of Oman. Most sharks stayed close to known or suspected feeding aggregation sites over summer months, but dispersed throughout the Arabian Gulf in winter. Sharks rarely ventured into shallow areas (<40 m depth). A single, presumably pregnant female shark was the sole animal to disperse a long distance, crossing five international maritime boundaries in 37 days before the tag detached at a distance of approximately 2644 km from the tagging site, close to the Yemeni-Somali border. No clear space-use differentiation was evident between years, for sharks of different sizes, or between sexes. Whale sharks spent the most time (~66%) in temperatures of 24-30°C and in shallow waters <100 m depth (~60%). Sharks spent relatively more time in cooler (X2 = 121.692; p<0.05) and deeper (X2 = 46.402; p<0.05) water at night. Sharks rarely made dives deeper than 100 m, reflecting the bathymetric constraints of the Gulf environment. Kernel density analysis demonstrated that the tagging site at Al Shaheen was the regional hotspot for these sharks, and revealed a probable secondary aggregation site for whale sharks in nearby Saudi Arabian waters. Analysis of visual re-sightings data of tagged sharks revealed that 58% of tagged individuals were re-sighted back in Al Shaheen over the course of this study, with 40% recorded back at Al Shaheen in the year following their initial identification. Two sharks were confirmed to return to Al Shaheen in each of the five years of study.

Concepts: Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Persian Gulf, Shark, Basking shark, Whale shark, Oman, Strait of Hormuz


This study aims to review all published systematic reviews on the prevalence of modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors among women from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC). This is the first review of other systematic reviews that concentrates on lifestyle related diseases among women in GCC countries only.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Disease, Cardiovascular disease, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf


The molecular epidemiology and resistance mechanisms of carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA) were determined in hospitals in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), namely, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Qatar, Persian Gulf, Oman, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf