Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species

Climate change is affecting all living things on Earth, and sea turtles are no exception. (Shutterstock)
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Climate change is affecting all living things on Earth, and sea turtles are no exception. (Shutterstock)
Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Ameer. (Photo/Supplied)
Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species
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Ameer. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 10 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and KAUST join forces to protect endangered turtle species

Climate change is affecting all living things on Earth, and sea turtles are no exception. (Shutterstock)
  • Red Sea shores are safe nesting sites for endangered turtles due to health of reefs and protection Kingdom provides them

JEDDAH: As the number of certain species of sea turtles declines, NEOM and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have taken it upon themselves to ensure their preservation and protection.

The Red Sea is home to five out of seven of the different sea turtle species, including the endangered green turtle and hawksbill turtle, which is critically so. NEOM, though, has become a recognized safe haven for them.
Carlos Duarte, KAUST’s distinguished marine bioscientist, explained that the turtles are endangered due to being hunted excessively for their distinctive shells.
“Their carapaces are popular historically in Europe and are still being hunted and then sold on the black market today,” said Duarte. “Their shells are used to make hair combs, bracelets, sunglasses and other materials. Some just buy the shells as decorative pieces.”
Duarte added that the collection of turtle eggs is not as prevalent as it used to be, but still occurs and impacts population numbers.




The Red Sea’s coral reefs are well maintained and in very good health, so hawksbill turtles can find good feeding grounds. (Shutterstock)

Turtles face other threats from humans, too. “Since sea turtles are reptiles, they will come to the surface of the water to breathe and the fast metal propellers from boats could puncture their shells, and at times, even their lungs, since they’re placed right underneath their carapaces,” Lyndsey Tanabe, a doctoral student at KAUST working on the nesting ecology and conservation of sea turtles in the Red Sea, explained.
“Often the turtles get entangled in plastic under the water, meaning they can drown if they don’t free themselves in time to reach the surface to breathe.”
According to Tanabe, the most common way turtles drown is by getting entangled in ghost nets thrown by fishermen with the intention of trapping fish; the nets are usually discarded and left in the water. The turtles also tend to mistake pieces of plastic for jellyfish, which they feed on.
Duarte shared with Arab News how the Red Sea shores are safe nesting sites for endangered turtles, due to the health of the reefs and the protection the Kingdom provides them.
“Fortunately, the Red Sea’s coral reefs are well maintained and in very good health, so the hawksbill turtles can find good feeding grounds. It is illegal in the Kingdom to hunt them and they are well taken care of and protected here,” Duarte said.




The Red Sea’s coral reefs are well maintained and in very good health, so hawksbill turtles can find good feeding grounds. (Shutterstock)

He listed the different dependable nesting sites for the turtles along the Kingdom’s coast, and mentioned that the best area is what is now under NEOM’s stewardship, which is located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia.
In NEOM, various programs and projects are being implemented with the intention of protecting endangered species and conserving the environment.
NEOM is committed to protecting species in all four categories of endangerment — least concerned, vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered — such as the sooty falcon, the humpback dolphin or the whale shark.
However, there is a considerably higher focus on the critically endangered species such as the hammerhead shark and the hawksbill sea turtle.
The director of the marine conservation environment department in NEOM, Dr. Ameer Eweida, stated that NEOM’s shores and coast are perfect nesting and feeding sites for sea turtles, due to the region being the highest latitude in the world with a tropical marine climate. This makes its coral reefs and seagrass an ideal source of nutrients for the turtles.

FASTFACTS

• The Red Sea is home to 5 out of 7 of the different sea turtle species, including the endangered hawksbill and green turtles.

• The collection of turtle eggs is not as prevalent as it used to be, but still occurs and impacts population numbers.

• Often the turtles get entangled in plastic, meaning they can drown if they don’t reach the surface to breathe.

“What makes NEOM such a unique place for sea turtles is its offshore islands,” said Eweida. “They are easily accessible to these turtles and are safe environments for them to nest in. We found significant numbers of nests on all the islands — I’d say potentially about 60-70 percent of the turtles in the Red Sea have nested in NEOM’s islands.”
He also stated that the type of sand on the beaches of NEOM and its islands is excellent for nesting.
In addition to the natural environment in NEOM being perfect, there are strict guidelines NEOM’s beach visitors must follow in order to not disturb the sea turtles or harm their homes.
Eweida added that they developed buffers around the turtles’ nesting sites so as to protect them from construction.
Both NEOM and KAUST are running projects to help better understand the behaviors of sea turtles and work out how else they can be protected, and what they need to be protected from.


In KAUST, Duarte, collaborating with the Red Sea Development Co. and NEOM, ran a project which tagged and tracked turtles in the Red Sea to understand their use of the coastal habitat as well as the size, frequency and distribution of the animals.
Sea turtles’ existence is vital for the basic function of the marine ecosystem. “Sea turtles are what we call keystone species,” said Eweida, “which means they are critical for the functioning of a system because they influence other species around them and are responsible for their balance. Naturally, when a keystone species is removed from a system, that balance and order falls apart, harming all other species.”
Tanabe added that Hawksbill turtles eat mostly sponges, “and sponges try to take up more space than coral reefs, damaging them. So by removing these sponges, the hawksbill turtles are keeping the coral reefs habitable and healthy for other marine species.”
Duarte said that without sea turtles, there would be an overgrowth in the jellyfish population, highlighting the important roles of green sea turtles in an ecosystem. “Since they feed on seagrass, without them there would be an excess amount of seagrass which will affect the oxygen level, which will of course lead to a high mortality rate. It’s a chain reaction. That’s why we have to protect them.”
Although sea turtles off the west coast of the Kingdom are well protected, it is important to note that they are still threatened by other natural elements that organizations such NEOM or KAUST cannot shield them from.
Sea turtles, like many other species, tend to travel and migrate to other oceans, seas and beaches where hunting is still prevalent.
Climate change, meanwhile, is affecting all living things on Earth, and sea turtles are no exception. Temperatures in seas can determine turtles’ gender, which in turn can decrease the population of one gender if the temperature is at an extreme level.
The NEOM and KAUST experts said that individuals can make small changes that could have a “tremendously positive” impact on the lives of sea turtles. Some of these changes are as simple as reducing the use of plastic, not littering on the beaches or in the water — specifically nylon fishing lines, which can get wrapped around turtles’ flippers and dig into their bones — and keeping eyes open for nesting sites on beaches to avoid disturbing them.


Saudi Arabia registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 59 new cases

Saudi Arabia registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 59 new cases
Updated 43 sec ago

Saudi Arabia registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 59 new cases

Saudi Arabia registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 59 new cases
  • The Kingdom says 78 patients had recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours
  • Over 41.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to date across KSA

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia confirmed five new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,704.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 59 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 546,985 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 244 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh and Jeddah with 10 cases each, followed by Hafar Al-Batin with four, and Madinah and Makkah confirmed three cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 78 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 536,028.


Over 41.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date through 587 centers.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register with the Sehhaty app to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened one mosque after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing it in Al-Jawf after one person tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 2,031 within 230 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 232 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.76 million.


Ambitious plans unveiled for luxury new Saudi mountain resort

Ambitious plans unveiled for luxury new Saudi mountain resort
Updated 13 min 22 sec ago

Ambitious plans unveiled for luxury new Saudi mountain resort

Ambitious plans unveiled for luxury new Saudi mountain resort
  • Oppenheim Architecture has created 48 villas and 12 hotel rooms for the site designed to protect and preserve the environment and highlight the region’s cultural heritage

JEDDAH: Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a new resort in the Saudi mountains designed to blend modern architecture into the natural landscape.

The Red Sea Development Co. project, one of the Kingdom’s most ambitious regenerative tourism schemes to date, will see luxury accommodation built into rocky outcrops commanding stunning valley views.

Developers behind the Desert Rock resort adopted a design philosophy of building with the land, not on the land.

John Pagano, chief executive officer at TRSDC, said: “We wanted to create a destination that allows guests to experience Saudi Arabia’s untouched beauty. Desert Rock will provide guests with uninterrupted spectacular views while preserving the natural landscape for future generations to enjoy.”

Oppenheim Architecture has created 48 villas and 12 hotel rooms for the site designed to protect and preserve the environment and highlight the region’s cultural heritage.

“We have drawn inspiration from the surrounding environment, while providing unparalleled luxury, allowing guests to connect with nature and create memorable experiences,” added Pagano.

Materials excavated from the site will be used to create the infrastructure, with stone going into interior and exterior walls and floors, and sand and gravel being used for concrete aggregate.

Construction began in July, and the resort has been designed to reduce energy consumption and regenerate native flora. Water retention and distribution systems will be used throughout the site, with harvested rainwater creating a more green, flourishing wadi. The first hotel guests are due to check in at the end of next year.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Red Sea Project in July 2017. Elements of the first phase of the flagship scheme are set to open in 2022. Upon full completion in 2030, the project will comprise 50 hotels offering up to 8,000 rooms and 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites.

The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment and leisure facilities, and an international airport.


Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan travels to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan travels to Saudi Arabia, UAE
Updated 27 September 2021

Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan travels to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan travels to Saudi Arabia, UAE

RIYADH: US President Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is traveling to Saudi Arabia on Monday to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the Associated Press. 

Sullivan will also visit the United Arab Emirates as part of his regional trip. 

 

 


Riyadh Season 2021 coming to a desert near you

Riyadh Season 2021 coming to a desert near you
Updated 27 September 2021

Riyadh Season 2021 coming to a desert near you

Riyadh Season 2021 coming to a desert near you
  • The Riyadh Season is expected to provide a mixture of exclusivity and modernity, turning the Saudi capital into a preferred destination for visitors

JEDDAH: Under the slogan #Imagine_more, Riyadh Season 2021 begins in less than a month and offers events and activities for all.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the board of directors of the General Entertainment Authority, on Saturday announced the launch of the 2021 Riyadh Season on Oct. 20. It will cover an area of 5.4 million square meters across 14 districts in the capital city.

Al-Sheikh said that after the success of Riyadh Season 2019, this year’s events would be organized by Saudi teams.

The season will host 7,500 events, including 70 Arab concerts, six international concerts, 10 international exhibitions, 350 theater performances, 18 Arab plays and six international plays, in addition to one free-wrestling championship, two international matches, 100 interactive experiences, 200 restaurants and 70 cafes, all catering to a range of tastes and age groups.

Nour Fahed, who visited Riyadh’s last season in 2019, told Arab News how excited she was to be attending this year’s events. “I went to the Riyadh Season twice and I was overwhelmed with the things that I saw,” she said. “I could not believe my eyes and I was proud that my country is making international events like this.” 

Hams Nabeel, who went to Riyadh for a business trip during the season, said: “I tried some of the exotic pop-up restaurants in the season, but my favorite activity was going to the Winter Wonderland theme park. I liked how I saw and met so many foreigners and I am aiming for another adventure this year.”

Another guest, Majid Al Assiri, said that he made the most of the activities on offer during the last Riyadh Season, visiting Winter Wonderland, the boulevard, Diriyah festivals, MDLBEAST. “It will be a fantastic season, especially now that people already have an idea of what to expect from last season,” he said.

“Not to mention the second season of MDLBEAST: 2019 was a blast, it was cold because but the experience itself is unique and the first of its kind,” Assiri said. 

The Riyadh Season is expected to provide a mixture of exclusivity and modernity, turning the Saudi capital into a preferred destination for visitors. It will also contribute to achieving national goals such as raising the level of the entertainment-sector industry, creating job opportunities, growing economic returns and attracting foreign investment.

More details will be announced at a press conference on Oct. 4.

Decoder

RIYADH SEASON

Riyadh Season is the biggest part of Saudi Seasons, a series of themed entertainment, artistic, sporting and cultural events held throughout the Kingdom to boost tourism and business opportunities, and providing jobs for Saudi nationals. Riyadh Season 2021 alone will host 7,500 events, according to the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA).


Who’s Who: Loay Mashabi, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services

Who’s Who: Loay Mashabi, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services
Updated 27 September 2021

Who’s Who: Loay Mashabi, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services

Who’s Who: Loay Mashabi, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services

Loay Mashabi has been the deputy minister for logistic services at the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services since April 2021.

He has also been a board member of Saudia Cargo from August 2021 and a board member of Saudi Exports from June 2021.

Prior to his current position, Mashabi was the deputy governor for planning and development at Saudi Customs from September 2019 to March 2021.

He served as the chief operating officer of the Al-Soudah Development project, later known as Al-Soudah Development Co., at the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, from February 2019 to August 2019.

From January 2017 to December 2018 Mashabi was general manager at LogiPoint Services, previously known as Isnad, the operator of the largest bonded and re-export zone in Saudi Arabia located at Jeddah Islamic Port.

From September of 2013 to December 2016, he worked as general manager at Petroleum and Energy Logistics and Services Co.

His professional career began in September 2006 at Saudi Aramco as a petroleum production engineer, and he continued to work as a senior production engineer at the oil giant until April 2013. This strong foundation in a well-governed giga-company helped to shape his career and he later moved to PETROGISTIX.

Mashabi received his master’s degree in business administration from the London Business School, a constituent college of the University of London, UK (2016-17).

He has a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia (2002-2006).

Mashabi was issued a petroleum engineering certification from the Society of Petroleum Engineers in December 2012.