The Arabian Oryx formerly occurred through most of the Arabian Peninsula, north to Kuwait and Iraq. The species' range had already contracted by the early years of the 20th century and the decline accelerated thereafter. Before 1920, oryx distribution was separated into areas over 1,000 km apart: a northern population in and around the Nafud, and a larger southern population in the Rub Al Khali and the plains of central-southern Oman. Oryx disappeared from the north in the 1950s. In the south, their range steadily decreased due to hunting, and by the 1960s oryx were restricted to parts of central and southern Oman. The last wild individuals were probably shot in 1972 on the Jiddat al Harasis.
Arabian Oryx have been reintroduced to Oman (Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, from 1982); Saudi Arabia (Mahazat as-Sayd Reserve, 2,244 km² from 1990; Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve, 12,000 km² from 1995), Israel (three sites in the Northern Arava and Negev Desert, from 1997); United Arab Emirates (Arabian Oryx Reserve, Abu Dhabi, from 2007); and Jordan (Wadi Rum, beginning 2009).
Reintroductions in Kuwait, Iraq and Syria have also been proposed. There is a small introduced population on Hawar Island, Bahrain and large semi-managed populations at several sites in Qatar and UAE.