Saudi Arabia 2024
Saudi Arabia has been among the very few nations worldwide without any published record of Pholcidae. However, available collections from Oman and Yemen suggested that Pholcidae are in fact common inhabitants of suitable habitats on the Arabian Peninsula. For example, two weeks of collecting in Oman in 2017 and 2018 resulted in 19 species (16 of them new to science) (Huber 2022; B.A. Huber, unpublished data). As for Saudi Arabia, no pholcid species had been recorded for Oman before. It was thus reasonable to expect a comparable diversity in Saudi Arabia.

In March 2024, after years of preparations and delays, I finally was able to visit Saudi Arabia. I concentrated on the Hijaz mountains along the Red Sea coast because this is the most humid region of the country, with a wide range of habitats at different altitudes, and mostly easy to reach due to the excellent infrastructure. I started in Jeddah (Mecca Province) and headed south through Al Bahah and 'Asir Provinces to the Yemeni boder in Najran and Jizan Provinces. Pholcidae were almost everywhere, and I collected at 39 localities ranging from sea level to over 2500 m.

In less than three weeks, I collected 20 species of Pholcidae, 14 of them new to science. Particularly diverse were the genera Crossopriza and Micropholcus. Other genera, represented by one or two species each, were Artema, Ninetis, Smeringopus, and Holocnemus.

I thank Mostafa Sharaf and Abdulrahman Aldawood (King Saud University, Riyad) for support in preparing the trip, and the Alexander Koenig Stiftung (AKS, Bonn) for financial support.