Saudi Arabia is home to most resilient coral reefs in the world

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Saudi Arabia is home to one of the most resilient reefs in the world, one marine science professor said at a media briefing in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Carlos M. Duarte, a professor in Marine Science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), noted the “the amazing resilience of the corals of the Red Sea.”

Even though the reef is 30 million years old, Duarte said it was akin to an infant ocean, adding that it was about “five years old” if it were scaled to an average human life span.

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The professor was discussing “Securing a Future for the World’s Coral Reefs” at the G20 International Media Center in Riyadh.

Conservation of coral reefs is important because they help protect coastlines from tropical storms, and they offer shelter to many marine organisms as they contain a diverse ecosystem.

The professor said typical coral reef restoration is hard to achieve and costly, however a new technique of coral reef restoration has been developed by scientists at KAUST.

The technique, known as “Maritechture,” grows and plants corals like a garden that can be shared with the public, or surrounding area in a coral reef, as elements of landscape. The technique’s mission is to restore, educate, and enhance.

In the technique, live corals are 3D scanned and 3D coral skeletons are printed. The technique enables new corals to be grown in months rather than decades.

A giant clam is seen nestled among coral reefs at the Obhor coast, 30 kms north of the Red Sea city of Jeddah. (AFP)
A giant clam is seen nestled among coral reefs at the Obhor coast, 30 kms north of the Red Sea city of Jeddah. (AFP)

The Red Sea Development Company

The Red Sea, according to the professor, has extensive coral reef banks and a unique biodiversity.

“The Red Sea Development Company has a unique commitment to conserving coral reefs,” Duarte said.

“Their mission goes beyond that [conserving coral reefs]; their development for tourism is not just about leaving the area untouched, but also developing it,” he added.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud said: “The pristine coral reefs, thriving marine life and untouched landscapes are what make this region so special, and The Red Sea Collection is committed to ensuring these features are given the utmost protection.”

The minister, representing the Red Sea Collection by the Public Investment Fund, and Prince Albert II of Monaco signed a Framework Agreement of shared interests and objectives regarding sustainable development and conservation.

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