Executive Summary 

The Saq-Ram Aquifer System (West) extends on the surface from northern Saudi Arabia into Jordan. At present, it is exploited from the Tabuk Plain in Saudi Arabia to Wadi Rum in Jordan, in an area delineated in this Inventory as the Tabuk-Mudawwara-Disi area.

In Jordan, where the aquifer system is known as the Ram Group, it is widely exposed in the southern desert and is present in the subsurface throughout most of the country. Current abstraction in the Mudawwara-Disi area (Jordan) is 60 MCM/yr although higher values of 70-80 MCM/yr were reported in 2008.

In Saudi Arabia south of the Jordanian border (Tabuk area), the Saq lies directly on the Basement and dips gradually towards the north/ north-east under less permeable formations. Groundwater abstraction in the Tabuk area has increased drastically from about 29 MCM/yr in 1983 to between 1,050-1,700 MCM/yr in 2004, mostly in the agricultural sector, while recharge remains at 3-10 MCM/yr. The heavy mining of the aquifer system has resulted in water level drops of up to 32 m/yr in the late 1980s in Saudi Arabia. There are indications that the exploitable part of the resource may be exhausted within 30-40 years, unless abstraction can be controlled on both sides of the border.

  • The region of Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, 2012. Source: Amru Essam.
  • Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2010. Source: Andreas Renck.
  • Agriculture in the Disi-Mudawwara area, Jordan, 2009. Source: Andreas Renck.
  • Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2008. Source: Eileen Maternowski.

Basin Facts 

Riparian Countries Jordan, Saudi Arabia
Alternative Names Disi, Disi Mudawwara, Ram, Rum, Saq, Saq-Tabuk
Renewability Low (2-20 mm/yr)
Hydraulic Linkage with Surface Water Weak
Rock Type Porous
Aquifer Type Unconfined in shallow layers;
confined or leaky in deeper layers
Extent 308,000 km2
Age Paleozoic (Cambro-Ordovician)
Lithology Sandstones
Thickness 250-700 m
Eastern Jordan: ≥1,000 m
Risha Area: 500 m
Average Annual Abstraction Jordan: 90 MCM
Saudi Arabia: >1,000 MCM
Storage Jordan: 4-10 BCM
Saudi Arabia: ~740 BCM
Water Quality Fresh (Mostly <1,000 mg/L TDS)
Water Use Mainly agricultural. A rise in municipal and industrial use is expected.
Agreements --
Sustainability Overexploitation due to agricultural development. Possible health risk due to high natural radioactivity (Ra).