Mapping Groundwater Potential Zones in the Habawnah Basin of Southern Saudi Arabia: An AHP- and GIS-based Approach

Abdulnoor A.J. Ghanim, Ahmed M. Al-Areeq*, Mohammed Benaafi, Mohammed S. Al-Suwaiyan, Amran A.Al Aghbari, Mana Alyami

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The excessive depletion of groundwater resources and significant climate change have exerted immense pressure on global groundwater reserves. Owing to the rising global demand for drinking water, as well as its use in agriculture and industry, there is an increasing need to evaluate the capacity and effectiveness of underground water reservoirs (aquifers). Recently, GIS has gained significant attention for groundwater exploration because of its ability to provide rapid and comprehensive information about resources for further development. This study aims to assess and map the groundwater potential of a large basin located in the southern region of Saudi Arabia. Techniques such as GIS and AHP were employed in this study. To perform the delineation for the groundwater potential zones (GWPZ), seven thematic layers were prepared and analyzed. These layers include geology, slope, land use, lineament densities, soil characteristics, drainage density, and rainfall. These variables were carefully considered and examined to identify and categorize areas based on their respective groundwater potentials. The assigned weights to each class in the thematic maps were determined using the well-known analytic hierarchy process (AHP) method. This methodology considered the characteristics of each class and their capacity to influence water potential. The results’ precision was verified by cross-referencing it with existing information about the area’s potential for groundwater. The resulting GWPZ map was classified into the following five categories: very low, low, moderate, high, and very high. The study revealed that approximately 42.56% of the basin is classified as having a high GWPZ. The low and moderate potential zones cover 36.12% and 19.55% of the area, respectively. Very low and very high potential zones were found only in a limited number of areas within the basin. This study holds global importance as it addresses the pressing challenge of depleting groundwater resources. With rising demands for drinking water, agriculture, and industry worldwide, the effective evaluation and management of underground water reservoirs are crucial. By utilizing GIS and AHP techniques, this study provides a valuable assessment and the mapping of groundwater potential in a large basin in southern Saudi Arabia. Its findings and methodology can serve as a model for other regions, supporting sustainable water resource management globally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10075
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Deanship of Scientific Research at Najran University—Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under code number (NU/NRP/SERC/12/3).

Funding Information:
The authors are thankful to the Deanship of Scientific Research at Najran University for funding this work under the Research Priorities program (NU/NRP/SERC/12/3). The authors would also like to acknowledge the support provided by the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Membranes and Water Security at KFUPM in completing this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • Najran
  • alluvial aquifers
  • hydrological unsustainability
  • remote sensing
  • water resource management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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