The second Gulf War (1991) led to the largest oil spill in human history. Over 770 km of coastline from southern Kuwait to Abu Ali Island (Saudi Arabia) were smothered with oil and tar, erasing most of the local plant and animal communities. Salt marshes were most severely hit of the different coastal ecosystem types along the Saudi Arabian coast and are far from being completely restored fifteen years later. Continuous monitoring from 1996 until 2006 by the author as well as Höpner, Jones, Weishar (2008, all this volume) and several others in the period before (
Krupp et al. 1996
), revealed the dominant processes of natural regeneration which are characterized by different types of indicators. These are 1) the composition of hydrocarbon compounds remaining in the soil, 2) the hardness of the soil surface, 3) microclimate 4) the abundance of laminated cyanobacteria mats, 5) the abundance and diversity of macrofauna, and 6) vegetation. These indicators are briefly presented, as well as some consequences considering future oil spill events and salt marsh restoration.