Red Sea coral reefs face extinction

Updated 05 October 2012

Red Sea coral reefs face extinction

Pollution in the Red Sea has reached epic proportions. Coral reefs spanning thousands of kilometers along the coastline in the region are under threat of extinction, according to a statement issued by the regional organization for marine ecology protection in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Eden.
“Even though Red Sea is said to enjoy one of the safest environment in the world, it has recently come under severe pressure due to illegal fishing, the depositing of untreated sewage, the shipping of waste including toxic substances and increased shipping activities carrying chemicals and crude oil,” according to a statement of the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
“The entire expanse of sea lying between Jeddah and Qunfudha is polluted and has resulted in the depletion of the fish resources and the total disappearance of tuna fish. Reckless fishing damages the fish-breeding environment,” says Abdullah Al-Sayed, a prominent fisherman in Jeddah.
He added that sewage-pumping is another major factor that has led to the destruction of habitats of fish and other sea organisms. Even locations away from coastal areas are not free from the ravages caused by coastal pollutants. “Undersea currents and wind carrying coastal pollutants to distant parts of the sea include locations where various types of fish grow in large numbers,” Al-Sayed told Arab News.
The Red Sea, home to 662 varieties of coral, has the largest variety of coral in the north of the Indian Ocean. Coral in the region grows at the rate of between five millimeters and 25 millimeters annually.
Coral reefs contribute directly or indirectly to the economies of the countries to which they belong. While 12 percent of world's fish production depends on coral, their formation also serves as a major tourist attraction. The reef also plays a major role in protecting coastlines because they serve as a natural shield against strong waves swallowing the beaches.
The regional organization has recently celebrated a coral day in the Red Sea rim countries under the theme “Coral Reef First."
The secretary-general of the organization, Ziyad Abu Gharara, said that coral day was celebrated with the aim of underscoring the importance of conserving coral for the growth of natural resources and as a means of sustained economic and environmental development.
“The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are a vital link between oceans and continents. They are also important insofar as there are marine beings and coral reef that are not found in other parts of the world. In addition, they are a symbol of geological wealth and cultural heritage.”
He added that the celebration also aims to heighten awareness among users of coral and decision makers in countries that have a share in the sea.
Muhammad Ibrahim, a diving tourism guide in Jeddah, said various kinds of waste has damaged coral and frightened away fish. Empty bottles, for instance, are often found accumulated near coral.
An insufficient number of workers in the field of environmental conservation and a lack of research studies are some of the obstacles to organizing environment protection programs and planning environment policies in many countries.
In a related development, Saudi Aramco and the King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals are conducting a joint study on the impact of oil tankers and other ships on marine life in the Gulf. Aramco is also collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture to draw up a strategy for the protection of locations where fish live in large numbers in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
Muhammad Al-Aziz, director general of the Administration for the Environmental Protection of Aquatic life at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the ministry has laid down regulations to stop illegal fishing in the Kingdom’s waters. Violation of regulations is punishable by up to SR 10,000 in fines, jail time for repeated violations and a cancellation of fishing registration.


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”