Study details marine spatial planning at Red Sea Project

The master plan for the development conserves 58 percent of the marine area of the site, with the development footprint being only 5 percent of the total area.
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Updated 21 April 2020

Study details marine spatial planning at Red Sea Project

A paper detailing the marine spatial planning models that form the basis of the master plan of The Red Sea Project, the world’s most ambitious tourism development, has been published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Marine Science.
The paper was co-authored by a multinational team of researchers including scientists from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the National Technical University of Athens and the University of Thessaly, alongside executives from The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the master developer behind the project.
The paper describes how the research team used marine spatial planning to generate net positive conservation outcomes for the 2,081 kilometer square Al-Wajh lagoon through the development of The Red Sea Project. The lagoon, which includes 92 islands, features valuable habitats including coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves that are home to several species of global conservation importance, such as sea turtles and seabirds.
“TRSDC has committed to setting a new global standard in sustainable development and to sharing our learnings with the world,” said John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company. “The results of this study demonstrate that, through careful design and planning, coastal development has the potential to enhance, rather than jeopardize, conservation.”
Pagano is named as a co-author of the paper.

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Al-Wajh lagoon, which includes 92 islands, features valuable habitats including coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves that are home to several species of global conservation importance, such as sea turtles and seabirds.

“Coastal development and marine conservation have traditionally been antagonistic goals, given that coastal development typically alters ecosystems and increases stress on the marine environment,” said Prof. Carlos Duarte, Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology at KAUST. “Our study shows that, by embracing conservation as a primary goal from the outset, stakeholders involved in sustainable development can successfully reconcile the needs of development with the delivery of net positive conservation outcomes.”
Prof. Duarte is a co-author of the paper and a member of TRSDC’s advisory board.
The marine spatial planning exercise is an integral part of TRSDC’s development approach. It is intended to benefit the ecological state of the destination by achieving conservation outcomes superior to those of a “business as usual” scenario for an undeveloped site.
The master plan for the development conserves 58 percent of the marine area of the site, with the development footprint being only 5 percent of the total area. The resulting conservation to development ratio of 10:1, the paper notes, is unprecedented in any documented coastal development plan.
Both the development zone and the area not assigned (37 percent of the marine area) will be subject to strict conservation and sustainability guidelines.
“Conservation is at the root of sustainable development,” said Pagano. “We believe that this innovative approach to destination design, grounded in marine spatial planning, can create a new relationship between tourism and the natural environment in the 21st century.”


3rd META Cinema Forum to screen at Vox Cinemas

Updated 01 October 2020

3rd META Cinema Forum to screen at Vox Cinemas

Now in its 3rd edition, META Cinema Forum is the biggest cinema convention covering the Middle East and African markets. After signing an agreement with the Pan African Film Consortium, the MENA Cinema Forum is now rebranded as META Cinema Forum, inclusive of the Middle East and the entire African continent.

The forum takes place on Oct. 27 and 28 and is set to be one of the only annual events for the cinema industry in 2020 as most global conventions were canceled as a result of the pandemic and will be executed in a hybrid format. The forum will give delegates the option between attending physically at Vox Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates and Sheraton Hotel, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, or alternatively delegates can attend virtually from the comfort of their home or offices across the globe via video conferencing technology.

“The cinema industry has been among the most impacted sectors by the pandemic, but if the $54 million box office sales of Tenet, the first blockbuster release since the pandemic, in its opening week at select international markets has proven anything, is that moviegoing is a habit we do not wish to kick, and that passion for movies and cinema as a form of accessible entertainment is here to stay,” said Leila Masinaei, META Cinema Forum Conference director and managing partner of Great Minds Event Management.

“Therefore, in close coordination with the major global stakeholders, we came up with a true hybrid event, the first of its kind in the world for the cinema industry, to facilitate collaborations that are required to help with the recovery. The event will highlight the plan for projects in the region, the recovery phase for the cinema industry, and content diversification as key critical elements.”

The forum includes a one-day, knowledge-packed conference, select slate presentations of upcoming content and films from leading Hollywood and international studios, a live META Cinema Projects Insight session with the most senior cinema leaders in the region and rounded off with a networking after-event reception.

Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al-Futtaim Cinemas and Majid Al-Futtaim Leisure and Entertainment, said: “At Vox Cinemas, we remain fundamentally confident about the future and resilience of the cinema industry, which has weathered many societal storms and survived more than a century of challenges ... We have witnessed a significant increase in our box office following the first wave of new releases and, with a backlog of blockbusters about to light up our screens regionally, cinema is set for a major comeback.”

The third edition is officially supported by some of the biggest cinema operators in the Middle East including Vox Cinemas, Novo Cinemas, Cinépolis Cinemas, and AMC Cinemas.