Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea exhibition aims to protect region’s vital marine environment

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Updated 18 June 2019

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea exhibition aims to protect region’s vital marine environment

  • KAUST scientists and researchers introduce adults and children to the sea’s vast array of wildlife

JEDDAH: Visitors were plunged into the fascinating underwater world of the Red Sea at an awareness exhibition aimed at helping to protect the unique marine environment.
The Red Sea Research Center, based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), has been staging an interactive display at the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah to highlight the importance of the marine ecosystem to the entire region.
The exhibition, which runs until June 24 and is part of the 41-day Jeddah Season summer festival, is designed to raise awareness of Red Sea conservation projects.
KAUST scientists and researchers were on hand to guide adults and children through the exhibition and introduce them to the Red Sea’s vast array of wildlife.
Children had the chance to feel and hold sea creatures in special tanks and were asked to sign a pledge to contribute to the preservation of the Red Sea by helping prevent pollution of the marine environment.
Micheal Berumen, director of the Red Sea Research Center, told Arab News of its mission to educate not only KAUST students, but also the public.
“The Red Sea is a resource that needs to be protected, appreciated, and celebrated by everybody living by the coast.
“It has a big impact to see a model of a whale shark, and it has a big impact to see creatures in the tank, but it is another level when you actually get to hold it,” said Berumen.
“And if you watch, it is actually the kids who are most excited about the exhibit.”
Berumen added that by targeting children, the center aimed to get them passionate about nature and hopefully spawn the marine biologists of the future.
“We really want to be sure that the people here understand how special the Red Sea is, and the unique resources we have right in our backyard.”

Whale shark
A life-size model of a whale shark, situated at the entrance to the exhibition, represented one of the most important creatures living in the Red Sea, said Berumen. “There are very few places in the world where you can study whale sharks, but the Red Sea is one of them.”
Burton Jones, a professor of marine science and a member of the Red Sea Research Center, said that as researchers they were trying to work out how the Red Sea worked while helping people to “understand that the Red Sea is extremely important for everybody’s life here.”
He added: “The Red Sea is what makes life better in Jeddah. It helps to keep the climate cooler, and oceans are very important to the climate of an area.”
Lina Eyouni, a Ph.D. student at KAUST, said the exhibition aimed to create a relationship between the visitors and the creatures of the sea. “We want to keep people engaged in what we are doing and spread knowledge about the importance of the environment and how can we protect it.”

Pollution threats
Sea pollution is mainly caused by coastal farming, rivers, sewage, and litter.
Fertilizers used in farming often get washed into the sea by rain, and although this is not a serious problem in the Red Sea, sewage and littering are major pollution threats, Berumen said.
The Red Sea Research Center has previously run several public events in Riyadh and Jeddah, but its latest exhibition is the biggest to date.
It has been a key department since the opening of KAUST in 2009 and is well-positioned and superbly equipped to study the Red Sea with its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class researchers.
The center also works closely with many government agencies to maintain the health of the Red Sea’s marine environment.


Accelerated judicial performance sees Saudi Arabia surge in global rankings

Updated 18 November 2019

Accelerated judicial performance sees Saudi Arabia surge in global rankings

  • The WEF report made special reference to Saudi Arabia’s progress in “technology governance”

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Justice has credited its widespread reforms to the Kingdom’s legal infrastructure for Saudi Arabia’s exemplary performance in world rankings in two major international reports released recently.

Following what the World Bank called “a record number of business reforms” in the past year, the organization’s Doing Business 2020 report ranked Saudi Arabia as the top country for improvement in the global business climate. And in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index, the Kingdom was placed 36 out of more than 140 countries monitored.

The WEF report made special reference to Saudi Arabia’s progress in “technology governance,” defined as the speed at which national legal frameworks were adapting to digital business models. In this metric, the Kingdom ranked third — second only to the US and Germany.

The World Bank put Saudi Arabia 62 globally in its “ease of doing business” scoring, with an overall result of 71.6 out of 100. The organization remarked that the Kingdom had made significant strides in eight World Bank focus areas.

“Our work towards streamlining the start-up, and day-to-day functioning within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — of enterprises of all scales, both foreign and domestic — has payed enormous dividends in the nation’s economic development, as can be seen in the reports from the World Bank Group and the World Economic Forum,” said the Ministry of Justice in a statement.

The World Bank’s report said the recent reforms showed “a forward path to creating more jobs for Saudi youth and women, and creating sustainable, inclusive growth.” In Saudi Arabia, it now costs only 5.4 percent of income per capita to start a business — a figure a third that of the regional average of 16.7 percent. Also, owing to reforms in protections for minority investors, Saudi Arabia now ranks third globally in this metric, performing on a par with New Zealand and Singapore, which the World Bank considers the two easiest places in the world to do business.

Registering new properties in Saudi Arabia has also become easier. The country is now ranked 19 by the World Bank in this area. The Ministry of Justice recently developed an electronic platform for complaint arbitration for property stakeholders, and implemented an initiative to digitize title deeds. And thanks to other reforms, it now takes just 36 hours to register property transfers in Saudi Arabia, placing the country third in the world in this metric.

When dealing with construction permits, Saudi Arabia stands in 28 position. To build a warehouse, for example, businesses can use a new online platform to obtain the necessary permits, at a cost of just 1.9 percent of the building’s value — which is half the regional average of 4.4 percent.

WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index also witnessed marked improvements from Saudi Arabia. The index monitors institutions, policies and other factors that determine national productivity. As well as being ranked third in the world in technology governance, Saudi Arabia was praised by the WEF for “making strides to diversify” its economy.

“We are happy to see that the reforms taking place in the legal sector are reflected in those global reports,” said the ministry.

“We hope that with our continuous efforts and upcoming plans, we will see more achievements and more global recognition.”