Water stress is a critical issue for plant growth in arid sandy soils. Here, we aimed to select bacteria producing polyextremotolerant surface-active compounds capable of improving water retention and humidity uptake in sandy soils.From Tunisian desert and saline systems, we selected eleven isolates able to highly emulsify different organic solvents. The bioemulsifying activities were stable with 30% NaCl, at 4 and 120 °C and in a pH range 4-12. Applications to a sandy soil of the partially purified surface-active compounds improved soil water retention up to 314.3% compared to untreated soil. Similarly, after 36 h of incubation, the humidity uptake rate of treated sandy soil was up to 607.7% higher than untreated controls.Overall, results revealed that polyextremotolerant bioemulsifiers of bacteria from arid and desert soils represent potential sources to develop new natural soil-wetting agents for improving water retention in arid soils.