KAUST, NEOM Unveil World's Largest Coral Restoration Project

KCRI is the world's largest coral restoration project, aiming to restore reefs worldwide. SPA
KCRI is the world's largest coral restoration project, aiming to restore reefs worldwide. SPA
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KAUST, NEOM Unveil World's Largest Coral Restoration Project

KCRI is the world's largest coral restoration project, aiming to restore reefs worldwide. SPA
KCRI is the world's largest coral restoration project, aiming to restore reefs worldwide. SPA

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), in collaboration with NEOM, has started working on the first nursery of the KAUST Coral Restoration Initiative (KCRI), a statement from KAUST said on Thursday.

According to the statement, KCRI is the world's largest coral restoration project, aiming to restore reefs worldwide. The primary nursery is already operational, and a second facility is being developed, both located in the Red Sea.

KCRI is funded by KAUST, a world-class graduate research university in Saudi Arabia, which was recently ranked as the number one Arab University by Times Higher Education.

The newly built nursery, on the coast of NEOM in northwest Saudi Arabia, will transform coral restoration efforts with a production capacity of 40,000 corals annually. Functioning as a pioneering pilot facility, researchers will leverage it as the blueprint for large-scale coral restoration initiatives.

Most importantly, this facility serves as a precursor to a more ambitious project: the world's largest and most advanced land-based coral nursery. This nursery, located at the same site, is an advanced coral nursery that will boast a ten-fold larger capacity to nurture 400,000 corals annually. With construction quickly progressing, the project is anticipated to reach completion by December 2025.

Home to 25% of known marine species despite covering less than 1% of the sea floor, coral reefs are the bedrock of numerous marine ecosystems. "This is one reason why scientists are so concerned about the rising rate of mass bleaching events, with experts estimating up to 90% of global coral reefs will experience severe heat stress on an annually by 2050," the statement said. With the frequency of such events on the rise, solutions for coral recovery will be "crucial for a healthy ocean.”

In alignment with Saudi Vision 2030 and its efforts to bolster marine conservation, this major initiative leverages KAUST's research into marine ecosystems and serves as a platform for trialing innovative restoration methods. Set on a 100-hectare site; the initiative will deploy 2 million coral fragments, marking a significant step in conservation efforts.

According to the statement, KCRI aligns with KAUST's overarching strategy, showcasing its dedication to catalyzing positive societal and global outcomes.

Beyond environmental restoration, the project offers educational benefits, further reinforcing its alignment with the broader strategic goals outlined in Vision 2030.

"Recent events provide a stark reminder of the global crisis that coral reefs face. Our ambition is, therefore, to pioneer a pathway to upscale from the current labor-intensive restoration efforts to industrial-scale processes required to reverse the current rate of coral reef degradation,” said KAUST President Prof. Tony Chan.

“As a significant output of KAUST's new strategy, the university is contributing the world-leading expertise of our faculty, who are working on technologies to bring this vision to fruition."

NEOM's CEO, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, said the initiative demonstrates NEOM's dedication to sustainability and finding innovative solutions for global environmental challenges.

NEOM, as a "pioneer in sustainable development" recognizes the importance of reviving coral reefs in partnership with KAUST. Through their longstanding collaboration, they aim to raise awareness about the significance of coral reefs as crucial marine environmental systems and emphasize the need to preserve them for future generations.



King Charles to Take Part in Official Birthday Celebrations

FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
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King Charles to Take Part in Official Birthday Celebrations

FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)

King Charles III will take part in his official birthday celebrations in a little over two weeks, as the monarch eases his way back into public duties while continuing to undergo cancer treatment, Buckingham Palace confirmed on Thursday.
The news came amid reports that Prince William’s wife, Kate, will miss a public rehearsal for the event as she, too, receives treatment for cancer. It remains unclear whether the Princess of Wales will attend the main ceremony, known as Trooping the Color, on June 15, Britain's Press Association reported.
Kate has revealed few details about her illness or treatment since announcing her cancer diagnosis on March 22.
Charles had been returning to public duties before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week called a snap election. That forced the king to postpone engagements that might divert attention from the campaign, raising questions about whether he would attend the birthday celebration.
Trooping the Color is a 460-year old tradition in which troops in full dress uniform parade past the king with their ceremonial flag, also known as their “color.”

Charles is likely to travel to the event by carriage with Queen Camilla and is expected to watch the Trooping ceremony seated on a dais, rather than on horseback as he did last year.