Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST partner to create the world’s largest coral garden in the Red Sea

    26 Jun 2021

    Officials in Saudi Arabia have announced a joint project to establish the largest coral garden in the world at NEOM, the futuristic mega-city being built in the Kingdom’s northwest, Arab News reports.

    NEOM and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) said that the project that will cover 100 hectares on Shusha Island on the shores of the Red Sea.

    The Shusha Island Coral Park will become a global center to showcase innovations to protect and restore coral reefs and accelerate conservation solutions, helping to reduce the effects of climate change, a statement issued by Saudi Press Agency said.

    The project is scheduled to be completed in 2025, making NEOM a world leader in restoring and developing coral reefs.

    • The Shusha Island Coral Park will become a global center to showcase innovations to protect and restore coral reefs. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2025, making NEOM a world leader in restoring and developing coral reefs.

    • The project will enable NEOM to be a new tourism icon and a futuristic destination with a global character, as Shusha island reflects NEOM’s bold ambition toward developing marine tourism based on innovation to protect and grow marine organisms in the Red Sea.

    “We work within an integrated system to preserve the environment and all its components, and we seek to preserve coral reefs, in particular, and marine life, in general. This is one of the environmental goals that we are working to achieve, and our cooperation with KAUST shows the important dimension of these efforts,” NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said.

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    He added that the agreement with KAUST also aims to advance technologies and joint experiences, work to enhance the scientific community’s understanding of the way coral reefs adapt to climate change, and search for innovative solutions to preserve coral reefs in the Red Sea.

    KAUST President Tony Chan said that the university is pioneering research in the Red Sea, and the promising project with NEOM is one of the largest technology transfer deals in the KAUST’s history, using innovations originating from the university.

    “We look forward to working alongside NEOM to improve our lives through science and technology,” Chan said.

    Shusha Island is home to more than 300 species of coral and 1,000 species of fish, and the coral garden will provide a unique opportunity for research and development, attracting scientists, researchers and tourism lovers who are interested in the environment, he added.

    NEOM will use a technique incorporating Maritechture technology — developed by scientists from the Red Sea Research Center and the Coastal and Marine Resources Laboratory at KAUST — on the beach reefs first and then the coral gardens surrounding the island.

    The project will enable NEOM to be a new tourism icon and a futuristic destination with a global character, as Shusha island reflects NEOM’s bold ambition toward developing marine tourism based on innovation to protect and grow marine organisms in the Red Sea.

    In February, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a luxury Red Sea resort project called the “Coral Bloom” development, which has been designed by world-renowned British architectural firm Foster + Partners.

    It will be built on Shourayrah Island, the main island of the Red Sea Project off the Kingdom’s west coast.

    On June, 21, the Kingdom’s Red Sea Development Company signed a research agreement with KAUST that will see the two organizations cooperate in fields such as marine environment sustainability, food security, and energy conservation, Saudi Press Agency reported.

    “There is a growing realization that tourism must be more sustainable and renewable, and the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast is among the purest ecosystems in the world, so our collaboration with KAUST helps go beyond just conservation. on the environment to enhance this unique ecological treasure for future generations,” John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Company, said.

    The agreement will see the two organizations cooperate in fields such as marine environment sustainability, food security, and energy conservation.

    Pagano pointed out that the first task within the framework of the new research agreement is the continuous scientific monitoring of environmental changes over time, as this helps the Red Sea Development Company to fulfill its commitment to achieving an increase in the value of biodiversity in the project area by 30% by the year 2040.

    The head of Environmental Sustainability at the Red Sea Development Company, Dr. Rusty Brainard, explained that achieving carbon neutrality and improving biodiversity at the site is a difficult task, but is extremely important for the company.

    He reported that 11 of the current employees in the Environment and Sustainability Department of the Red Sea Development Company have previous professional experiences at KAUST, including seven employees who obtained a doctorate degree, and two who completed an associate’s degree at the same university.

    A joint working group between the Red Sea Development Company and King Abdullah University of Technology and Science is currently planning to establish a joint center for marine research and the protection of coral reefs on the Red Sea coast, which will become a permanent base for marine research and monitoring and will open its doors in the future for visitors to learn about the natural environment and wildlife in this area.

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