Sheikh Hamdan opens Dubai Reef project

Crown Prince of Dubai takes part in diving expedition to mark launch of coral conservation scheme

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, prepares for his diving voyage with Ray Dalio. Sheikh Hamdan / X
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Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, enjoyed a deep dive into the emirate's waters on Thursday to mark the opening of a coral reef conservation mega project being hailed as the world's biggest.

Sheikh Hamdan made a splash to inaugurate Dubai Reef, which aims to increase sea life eight-fold, improve the sustainability of fishermen’s livelihoods and attract eco-tourism.

The major marine scheme will set out to cut carbon emissions and increase marine biodiversity.

The reefs have an estimated capacity to capture more than seven million tonnes of carbon annually.

Sheikh Hamdan said it would serve as a "blueprint for global environmental projects" and underlined Dubai's commitment to championing sustainability.

He was joined on the diving trip by billionaire business magnate Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund.

"I was happy to be joined by Ray Dalio for an unforgettable diving expedition, marking the inauguration of 'Dubai Reef' – the world’s largest marine conservation initiative," Sheikh Hamdan wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"This project promises a host of benefits for marine biodiversity, our planet's health, and economic prosperity.

"It's a testament to Dubai's commitment to sustainability and serves as a blueprint for global environmental projects."

Dubai Reef, which was announced at Cop28 last year, spans 600 square kilometres and the plan is to create 400,000 cubic metres of coral reefs.

The drive will operate on a public-private partnership model in which the government has contributed 10 per cent of the investment and has secured commitments for more than 50 per cent of the funding.

The project is part of Dubai’s efforts to increase fish stocks, support sustainable fishing and help boost food security.

The reef will be established over four phases and is scheduled to be completed within four years, Dubai Media Office has said.

The launch comes amid global efforts to arrest a worrying decline in coral reefs.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently said the world’s coral reefs are experiencing a major bleaching event.

Coral in the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef and the Caribbean are among the many affected.

Bleaching happens when high temperatures – or unusually low ones – cause coral to expel single-celled algae called zooxanthellae that live inside them, depriving the coral of a key energy source.

One of Saudi Arabia's top universities has announced a Red Sea project to safeguard coral reefs.

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology initiative aims to produce hundreds of thousands of coral reefs each year.

The scheme “represents a significant step towards restoring reefs globally”, according to the university, and is seen as important because many reefs have suffered from bleaching events due to rising temperatures.

The Kaust Coral Restoration Initiative already has a functioning nursery on Saudi Arabia’s north-west Red Sea coast capable of generating 40,000 corals per year.

Updated: April 25, 2024, 4:32 PM