Dubai launches reef project to boost marine life, eco-tourism and fishermen's livelihoods

The project will span 600 square kilometres of the emirate’s waters

The Dubai Reef project was announced during Cop28 in the emirate on December 1. Photo: Wam
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Dubai has launched a coral reef project for marine restoration that will increase sea life eight-fold, improve the sustainability of fishermen’s livelihoods and attract eco-tourism.

The Dubai Reef project, which was announced at Cop28 on Friday, will span 600 square kilometres of the emirate’s waters, with the design of the coral reefs exceeding 400,000 cubic metres in total volume, Helal Al Marri, director-general of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, said during a session at the Business an Philanthropy Climate Forum.

The project will operate on a public-private partnership model where the government has contributed 10 per cent of the investment and has secured commitments for more than 50 per cent of the funding, Mr Al Marri said.

“We worked with the best minds to look at coral reef restoration and how to rebuild the coral environment and ensure it makes a difference,” he said.

“What we would hope is that this successful model makes it very bankable for other communities around the world.”

The project is part of Dubai’s efforts to increase fish stocks, support sustainable fishing and help boost food security, according to a statement by the Dubai Media Office on Friday.

Dubai Reef will also help to reduce carbon emissions and increase marine biodiversity. The reefs have an estimated capacity to capture more than seven million tonnes of carbon annually.

The project is also aligned with the UAE’s goals to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The Dubai Reef project will be led by the Department of Economy and Tourism and founding partner the Regulatory Committee on Fishing of Living Aquatic Resources in Dubai, in co-operation with Dubai Chambers, the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation and Nakheel.

“The project will contribute to achieving food security and supporting the sustainability of the fishing industry in Dubai,” Major General Ahmed Mohammed bin Thani, chairman of the Regulatory Committee on Fishing of Living Aquatic Resources in Dubai, said.

“It will also contribute to facilitating fishing operations by providing an environment that attracts fish and marine life, thus reducing the operational costs associated with commercial fishing. The project will also contribute to increasing the quantities and abundance of commercial fish.”

The project is set to unfold in four phases starting in 2024, according to the Dubai Media Office statement.

It will begin in the first quarter and is scheduled for completion within four years, it said.

The project will help create jobs, increase the appeal of recreational water activities and foster sustainable food sources, it said.

Updated: December 01, 2023, 6:53 PM