Saudi-led mission uncovers the secrets of the deep

Saudi-led mission uncovers the secrets of the deep
Researchers had two sightings of a giant squid and discovered the world’s most northerly deep-sea brine pool.
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Updated 14 October 2021

Saudi-led mission uncovers the secrets of the deep

Saudi-led mission uncovers the secrets of the deep
  • Six-week Red Sea research expedition finds eight undocumented species and ocean pinnacle 635m high

JEDDAH: As long ago as biblical times, humans were fascinated by the waters of the Red Sea. Even now we continue to probe its depths in an attempt to unlock its mysteries and secrets, and learn more about its unique marine environment.
The most recent research project, a six-week expedition in the sea’s northeastern waters, revealed a few mind-boggling surprises.
In October, a crew of 30 boarded the OceanXplorer1, an exploration, research and media vessel described as the most advanced of its kind. The renowned scientists, oceanographers and researchers included experts from the NEOM megacity project, Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and National Geographic.
They spent in excess of 960 hours mapping more than 1,500 square kilometers of seabed. Not only will their discoveries help to advance knowledge of marine biology, they uncovered new and unexpected information that could change our understanding of the natural world.
Paul Marshall, NEOM’s chief environment officer, is clearly impressed by the pristine waters and largely undisturbed marine life off the coast of the Saudi megacity development. He has worked for more than 30 years on marine environmental projects, including the restoration of coral reefs and innovations in conservation practices.
He told Arab News he realized immediately that there are a lot of undiscovered opportunities in the Red Sea, and “the Kingdom is custodian to an incredible part of the world’s marine environment.”
Working in partnership with ocean exploration initiative OceanX and other researchers, the Red Sea expedition began during a particularly challenging time, in the midst of a global pandemic. But that was just one of the challenges.
For example, the OceanXplorer’s manned deep sea exploration vessels are the most advanced of their kind. They can operate at depths of up to 1,000 meters but in most parts of the world water temperature drops sharply at such depths. In the relatively shallow Red Sea the temperature only drops to about 20 degrees Celsius, which limited the depth at which the submersibles could operate to about 700 meters.
At one spot, they found a big surprise waiting for them. The team believes the remote-operated vehicle spotted a mystery large squid on three occasions at a depth of about 650 meters near a sunken ferry that might be its home.
“We know from its proximity to the ship that we saw a huge squid, around six-to-eight meters long,” said Marshall. “There aren’t many squids that big — but nobody’s ever seen a giant squid in the Red Sea.
“If it is the giant squid, they’ve only ever been filmed underwater twice before. And if it’s not the giant squid, then it’s some other species not known from this area. So we don’t know exactly what it is, but we do know it is hugely exciting.”


Take a deeper look at the wonders of the Red Sea


The team made many other discoveries, including: a 635-meter high pinnacle (pillar-like elevations that rise from the seafloor); one of the northernmost deep-sea brine pools (pools of water on the seabed with much higher salinity than the surrounding ocean); a new crack caused by shifting tectonic plates; and three shipwrecks.
The team also studied so-called “super corals,” which have intrigued scientists for some time. The term refers to species of coral that appear to be particularly resilient to environmental shifts, such as those caused by climate change.
Ameer Abdulla Eweida, director of the Marine Conservation Program at NEOM, was the expedition’s coordinator and chief scientist. He has worked extensively worldwide in the field of marine and coral reef conservation science, and managing the effects of human activity, including pollution, on these vulnerable habitats.
NEOM’s unique Red Sea habitat includes some of the most heat-tolerant coral in the world.
“One of the holy grails of coral science is to understand the
evolutionary, biological and oceanographic factors that give these corals the ability to tolerate heat extremes and make them super corals,” said Eweida.
“NEOM’s Red Sea coral reefs have evolved over thousands of years towards a natural tolerance and resilience to high temperatures, and if managed and protected well — and because of their unique traits — they will have a high chance of surviving the effects of global climate change and the warming of the seas,” said Eweida.


Who’s Who: Anas Al-Oqalaa, vice governor at Saudi Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority

Who’s Who: Anas Al-Oqalaa, vice governor at Saudi Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority
Updated 21 sec ago

Who’s Who: Anas Al-Oqalaa, vice governor at Saudi Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority

Who’s Who: Anas Al-Oqalaa, vice governor at Saudi Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority

Anas Al-Oqalaa was recently named vice governor of legal and enforcement at the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority.

Al-Oqalaa is a tenacious legal professional with a wealth of expertise acquired through providing legal counsel and management as part of regulatory compliance strategies.

He is also considered a legal expert in drafting legislation specializing in direct and indirect taxes, and capital markets laws. Through tenure, he has acquired an excellent working knowledge of commercial, tax and capital markets laws, and regulations.

Al-Oqalaa has 17 years’ experience in the industry, and has proven leadership skills in building and managing teams for more than 10 years. He possesses a reputation as a leader in his area of specialization.

As an experienced lawyer and legal professional who has worked in the public and private sectors, Al-Oqalaa built robust knowledge in different areas including real estate, economic and financial laws, and regulations.

Al-Oqalaa served in different roles at the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority including deputy governor for legal affairs from October 2018 to October 2021 and general manager of the legal and compliance department from November 2017 to October 2018.

Before that, he served as the general counsel at the National Housing Co. from April 2017 to November 2017, and the general legal counsel and board secretary at the Middle East Financial Investment Co. from September 2015 to April 2017.

He also held different positions at the Capital Market Authority including head of the listed companies violations department from January 2014 to August 2015, head of investment funds and offering violations department from December 2013 to July 2014, and legal counsel from November 2006 to December 2013.

Before that, he worked as a lawyer in local law firms. Al-Oqalaa also leads and is a member of several committees and programs.

He received a master’s degree in corporate and commercial law from the University of New South Wales, Australia, and a bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University.

Al-Oqalaa also holds several certificates in areas related to law, leadership, investment and accounting.


DiplomaticQuarter: Peruvian envoy praises rich heritage of Riyadh library

DiplomaticQuarter: Peruvian envoy praises rich heritage of Riyadh library
Updated 38 min 15 sec ago

DiplomaticQuarter: Peruvian envoy praises rich heritage of Riyadh library

DiplomaticQuarter: Peruvian envoy praises rich heritage of Riyadh library

RIYADH: Ambassador of Peru José Luis Salinas Montes praised the great scientific and cultural patrimony of Riyadh’s King Fahd National Library in a recent visit.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Peruvian Embassy said: “On Oct. 25, Peru’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia delivered to the secretary-general of the King Fahd National Library a set of works representing our culture and discussed the possibilities of cultural cooperation with that institution.
“Our Saudi friends will now be able to learn a little more about Peru and its literary, artistic and intellectual heritage. Culture is the best way to bring peoples closer together and strengthen bonds of friendship,” it added.
The library’s Secretary-General Dr. Mansour A. Al-Zamil, who recently received the Peruvian ambassador and his accompanying delegation, said that the King Fahd National Library is an important destination for ambassadors to learn about the history and culture of Saudi Arabia.
Throughout the tour, the ambassador learned about the library’s goals and cultural and scientific activities. He also visited the exhibition of national documents and paintings by Saudi artists, as well as the public halls, studies department, reference services, and Kingdom Information Center.
At the end of the visit, gifts were exchanged, with Al-Zamil presenting the ambassador with a commemorative shield and some publications.


Saudi energy minister and Nigerian petroleum minister discuss global oil market

Saudi energy minister and Nigerian petroleum minister discuss global oil market
Updated 44 min 9 sec ago

Saudi energy minister and Nigerian petroleum minister discuss global oil market

Saudi energy minister and Nigerian petroleum minister discuss global oil market
  • Meanwhile, Nigeria's president left Madinah heading to Jeddah

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman held talks with Nigerian Minister State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva in the capital, Riyadh, on Wednesday.
During the meeting, they discussed the global oil market, and strengthening joint cooperation among the OPEC countries to maintain market stability.
Meanwhile, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari left Madinah on Wednesday heading to Jeddah, after he visited and performed prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari leaves Madinah for Jeddah after visiting the Prophet’s Mosque on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (SPA)

 


Saudi Arabia elected chair of commission on regional fisheries

Saudi Arabia elected chair of commission on regional fisheries
Updated 45 min 6 sec ago

Saudi Arabia elected chair of commission on regional fisheries

Saudi Arabia elected chair of commission on regional fisheries

RIYADH: The Regional Commission for Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization has elected Saudi Arabia as chair of the eleventh session, for three years, by unanimous vote.

The Kingdom is represented in the RECOFI by Dr. Ali Al-Sheikhi, CEO of the National Fisheries Development Program. He also serves as director general of the General Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, and as president-elect of RECOFI.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said that the Kingdom’s election came due to its prominent role — regionally and globally — in the fishing industry and its efforts to protect the environment, and preserve the sustainability of natural and marine resources.

It said that RECOFI aims to encourage the development, conservation, management, best use of living marine resources and the sustainable development of the aquaculture sector within its work area. It also reviews economic and social aspects of the fishing industry and recommends measures to develop natural resources.

In recent years, the efforts of the Kingdom in fishery conservation have resulted in an increase in the volume of seafood production, amounting to about 85,000 tons in fisheries and 100,000 tons in aquaculture.


Saudi, Albanian officials discuss enhancing ties

Saudi, Albanian officials discuss enhancing ties
Updated 53 min 15 sec ago

Saudi, Albanian officials discuss enhancing ties

Saudi, Albanian officials discuss enhancing ties

TIRANA: The Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh met the speaker of the parliament of Albania, Lindita Nikolla, in Tirana on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Nikolla stressed the strength and the depth of the relations that bind her country with the Kingdom.

She praised the great development and openness to the world that the Kingdom enjoys thanks to the efforts of its leadership.

Nikolla hoped for further cooperation between the two countries in various fields, expressing her wish to visit Saudi Arabia soon.

She also commended the cooperation between the Islamic Sheikhdom of Albania and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance in all areas of common concern.

Al-Asheikh stressed the Kingdom’s keenness to build and strengthen ties of friendship and cooperation with Albania in relation to Islamic affairs.

He conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and their sincere wishes to the government and the Albanian people for greater progress and peaceful living.

He said that “the Kingdom, under its leadership, aspires to build bridges of communication and enhance means of cooperation to achieve mutual interest of both countries.

“The Kingdom’s message is clear and simple: To show that Islam is the religion of tolerance, beauty and moderation.”

On Tuesday, Albanian President Ilir Meta met the visiting Saudi minister.

During the meeting, the president praised the Kingdom’s role in supporting Albania in the most difficult situations. He also praised the great Islamic values that the Kingdom calls for and the cooperation with his country to promote them.