The Arabian Waxbill is an endemic species of Arabia and occurs in the south and west of the country where it is one of the most difficult endemics to see. Phil Roberts and I managed to see up to ten birds in a wadi in Wadi Thee Gazelle, where the birds were initially seen on a loose telephone wire and then later coming down to drink from small pools created by the high rainfall this spring in the mountains. The birds seen included a minimum of four juveniles suggesting breeding had taken place nearby.
The most northern records are from Wadi al Sailah, southern Hejaz at 1700 metres, furthest north record. It is a rare and local breeding resident on the Tihama and southern Red Sea coast where it frequents reed beds and thick bush country. Has been seen in the Asir mountains to 2000 metres at Raydah Escarpment farm and Tanoumah. The species is described as rare in southern Saudi Arabia and the population is suspected to be in decline due to habitat loss as a result of the increasing use of modern agricultural techniques.
They are highly social, and occur from 250-2,500 m in fertile cultivated Wadis, plains, rocky hillsides and terraced slopes, usually with a dense cover of trees and bushes and almost always near water. The species roosts communally in this dense vegetation, and recently fledged juveniles have been recorded in May. It has become closely associated with regularly irrigated agricultural areas with flowing water.