Saudi officials have announced a joint project to create the world’s largest coral garden, located next to the NEOM metropolis, under construction in the northwest part of the kingdom. Representatives of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and NEOM project leaders said the project would be implemented on Shusha Island and would cover 100 hectares of its territory. It will become a global center for innovation in the protection and restoration of coral reefs.
The project is due to be completed in 2025, making NEOM a world leader in coral reef recovery and development.
“We work in an integrated system to protect the environment and all its components, we try to protect coral reefs and marine life in general. This is one of the environmental goals we are working on, and our partnership with KAUST confirms the importance of this task”, said NEOM CEO Nadmi Al-Nasr.
He added that the agreement with KAUST was aimed at developing technologies as well as gathering common experience, raising knowledge about how coral reefs are adapting to climate change, and finding innovative solutions for conserving biodiversity in the Red Sea.
KAUST President Tony Chan said that the university was conducting groundbreaking research in the Red Sea and the promising collaboration with NEOM management is one of the largest projects in the history of their research institution.
The island is home to more than 300 species of coral and 1,000 species of fish, and the planned project will provide a unique opportunity to explore and attract scientists and tourism enthusiasts interested in the environment, added Tony Chan.
This collaboration will enable NEOM to become a new tourism icon worldwide, as Shusha reflects Saudi bold ambitions to develop tourism in the Red Sea.
In February 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed Ibn Salman also announced the launch of a luxury Red Sea resort called Coral Bloom, designed by the world-famous British architectural firm Foster & Partners. It will grow on the island of Shuraira, which is the basis of the future Red Sea Project tourist complex, located on the west coast of the kingdom.
The first challenge under the new agreement is to monitor environmental changes over time, as this will help increase Red Sea biodiversity by 30% by 2040.
A joint working group with KAUST staff plans to set up a Center for Marine Research and Conservation of Coral Reefs on the Red Sea coast, which will become a permanent base for scientific research.