KAUST researcher wins top award for global marine science work

Prof. Carlos Duarte with his father in law Vicente Agusti (age 97) who visits Duarte every year at KAUST. ‘I take inspiration from his perseverance in learning. My goal is that, through my research, the ocean will have, by 2050, an abundance of life as Vicente knew in his childhood.’ (AN Photo)
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Updated 10 February 2020

KAUST researcher wins top award for global marine science work

  • Carlos Duarte, a professor of marine science, Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology, won the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in ecology and conservation biology
  • The award was made in recognition of his leadership role in research related to the problems of global marine science and his contribution to the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan

JEDDAH: A researcher at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has received a top international award for his contribution to global marine science and the Kingdom’s ambitious Red Sea tourism project.
Carlos Duarte, a professor of marine science, Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology, won the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in ecology and conservation biology granted by the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Foundation (Fundacion BBVA) in Spain.
Prof. Duarte, who is of Portuguese origin, has taken part in several global research campaigns as part of his efforts to expand knowledge about marine biodiversity and its role in shaping environments around the world.
The award was made in recognition of his leadership role in research related to the problems of global marine science and his contribution to the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan.
Expressing his delight at receiving the “prestigious” accolade, the professor highlighted the major role played by KAUST in promoting his work and supporting efforts to preserve marine ecosystems.
“It (the award) could be rightly called the ‘Nobel award’ of ecology and biodiversity, with a distinguished international jury selecting among the top ecologists in the world,” Duarte told Arab News
“For the award to be presented to me represents, therefore, a huge honor and a great recognition, not only of my work, but to that of the dozens of students and hundreds of collaborators that have contributed to my research over the years, as well as my institution, KAUST, for its unparalleled support and intellectual freedom to pursue the best research I am able to deliver.”
He pointed out that the launch of Vision 2030 had been an historic event setting the Kingdom on a path to a bright future.
“I was contacted in 2016 to provide advice on how the giga projects that are being developed in the Red Sea could become drivers of positive marine conservation outcomes.
“I was immediately challenged and captivated by the notion that development, which for decades has been a driver of destruction and biodiversity loss in the marine environment, could be reverted, with the right vision, motivation, commitment and scientific support, into a driver of a rebound of marine life in the ocean,” the professor said.
He noted that the commitment of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to marine conservation was “a model for leaders worldwide.”
Duarte added that he was “proud” to have been involved in the Red Sea project and said that tourism development and a national transformation program, such as Vision 2030, could be drivers of a game-changing shift in the recovery of marine environments.
He said his work had “led to new thoughts on the role of the private sector in rebuilding marine life, which I am about to publish. It also makes me proud of contributing through my research to develop this aspiration in Saudi Arabia.”
Duarte also collaborates and supports sustainability, marine conservation, and design work on the Amaala and NEOM mega projects.
He is currently leading an initiative to enhance sea turtle conservation in the Red Sea that is jointly funded by the Red Sea Development Co., Amaala, NEOM and KAUST. “These sea turtles move all across the Red Sea and represent a shared asset that is everyone’s responsibility to protect,” he added.
He noted that global recognition of Vision 2030 would be taken to a new level in the run-up to the Kingdom hosting this year’s G20 summit of world leaders.
“The principles that drive and inspire Vision 2030 will not only propel the development of the Kingdom but will also help other nations adopt concepts developed within KSA, such as the use of development to drive ocean conservation, developed by the Red Sea project, or the circular carbon economy, a concept put forward in October 2019 by Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman as a new approach to solve the climate crisis while avoiding disruptive economic impacts to societies that could hurt the disadvantaged and create social unrest,” Duarte said.


It was Russia, not Saudi Arabia, that pulled out of OPEC+ deal: Saudi ministers

Updated 04 April 2020

It was Russia, not Saudi Arabia, that pulled out of OPEC+ deal: Saudi ministers

  • Saudi foreign and energy ministers say Moscow's claim that Kingdom withdrew from the OPEC+ deal was unfounded
  • They said it was Russia that abandoned the agreement, leading to a collapse in world oil prices

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's foreign and energy ministers on Saturday denied Russia's claim that the Kingdom abandoned the OPEC+ deal, leading to a collapse in world oil prices.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said "a statement attributed to one of the media of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation claimed that one of the reasons for the decline in oil prices was the Kingdom's withdrawal from the deal of OPEC + and that the Kingdom was planning to get rid of shale oil producers."

"The minister affirmed that what was mentioned is fully devoid of truth and that the withdrawal of the Kingdom from the agreement is not correct," the statement said.

In fact Saudi Arabia and 22 other countries tried to persuade Russia to make further cuts and extend the deal, but Russia did not agree, it said.

Prince Farhan expressed surprise that Russia had to resort to "falsifying facts" when Saudi Arabia's stance on shale oil production is known, the statement said.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is one of the main investors in the energy sector in United States, implying that there is no reason for the Kingdom "to get rid of shale oil producers" as Russia has claimed.

He further said the Kingdom "is also seeking to reach more cuts and achieve oil market equilibrium for the interest of shale oil producers."

OPEC+ refers to the cooperation between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC oil producers. The cooperation deal which called for cuts in production by the producers was meant to stabilize oil prices. 

In a separate statement, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman rejected Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak’s similar claim that the Kingdom refused to extend the OPEC+ deal and withdrew from it.

Novak "was the first to declare to the media that all the participating countries are absolved of their commitments starting from the first of April," Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement.

He said Novak's statement led other countries to decide "to raise their production to offset the lower prices and compensate for their loss of returns." 

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia called for an urgent meeting of oil exporters after US President Donald Trump said he expected the Kingdom and Russia to cut production by 10-15 million barrels per day.

Prince Farhan said he was "hoping that Russia would take the right decisions in the urgent meeting" so that a "fair agreement that restores the desired balance of oil markets" could be achieved.

The global oil market has crashed, with prices falling to $34 a barrel from $65 at the beginning of the year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fuel demand has dropped by roughly a third, or 30 million barrels per day, as billions of people worldwide restrict their movements.

A global deal to reduce production by as much as 10 million to 15 million barrels per day would require participation from nations that do not exert state control over output, including the United States, now the world’s largest producer of crude.

A meeting of OPEC and allies such as Russia has been scheduled for April 6, but details were thin on the exact distribution of production cuts. No time has yet been set for the meeting, OPEC sources said.