Saudi Arabia's futuristic $500-billion city Neom has announced extensive findings from a joint mission with non-profit ocean exploration organisation, OceanX, following the most adventurous assessment of the northern Red Sea to date.
The six-week expedition took place aboard the OceanXplorer, the most advanced exploration, research and media vessel ever built.
The expedition generated scientific research into marine ecosystems, megafauna, brine pools and coral reef conservation and regeneration.
On the scientific discoveries, CEO Nadhmi Al Nasr said: "Neom goes beyond just being a global destination for investment, technology, tourism, or industrial and commercial sectors, by partnering with scientists, and international scientific and academic institutions for research and exploration."
"Today, we announce that the joint mission efforts have made significant achievements in the identification of previously unknown natural areas, as well as unprecedented global scientific discoveries," he stated.
Al Nasr said: "Neom was an ideal location for the expedition, as it meets all the key objectives of Vision 2030, such as sustainability and the balance between urban development and environmental preservation."
"As Neom plays a crucial role in realizing the Vision 2030, it was necessary to present humanity with a new global destination that encompasses all the elements for a futuristic cognitive society that advance people and places, while preserving the environment," he noted.
Findings, captured over 960 hours of underwater research and mapping more than 1,500 sq km of the seabed in high resolution 3D, have established a baseline measure of biodiversity and habitat vitality that will allow Neom to pursue its goal of both conserving and improving the health of surrounding ecosystems.
The 30-person crew of world-renowned scientists, oceanographers and researchers included four Neom experts, five from the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture (Mewa), five King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) experts, 11 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology researchers and five National Geographic explorers.
Key findings include:
*Discovery of an ocean pinnacle 635 m high (as tall as any of the world's biggest skyscrapers except the Burj Khalifa)
*Two sightings of a large squid, caught on camera and not previously observed in the region
Discovery of the world's most northern deep sea brine pool (dense bodies of water that have a salinity that is three to eight times greater than the surrounding ocean)
*Recording coral reefs that are resilient to climate change
*Identification of 341 fish species in the waters of Neom, 68 that are native to the region and 18 that are globally threatened
*Eight new species were recorded and over 600 sq km of biodiversity hotspots for fishes and corals discovered
*Confirmed presence of 12 species of megafauna in Neom waters including whale sharks, dugong, turtles and dolphins
*Discovery of three ancient maritime and shipwreck sites
Dr Paul Marshall, Head of Nature Reserve at Neom, said: "The global ocean system is in crisis, but the damage is reversible. This partnership with OceanX reinforces Neom's commitment to science, conservation and safeguarding the planet."
"We believe that not only conserving, but improving, the health of our marine ecosystems, particularly our coral reefs, are key to our future and our success. This world-first expedition sets the stage for Neom's ambitious conservation programme, which aspires to accelerate the transition to societies that live in harmony with nature," he added.
Dr Marshall said: "The findings of this expedition go far beyond the region and will support global efforts to protect and conserve marine ecosystems around the world, shedding light on the biological characteristics and oceanographic conditions necessary for survival in light of changes due to the global climate change crisis."
Dr Vincent Pieribone, Chief Scientist and Vice Chairman at OceanX, said: "We are committed to exploring places few others have been before and sharing our discoveries with the world. This joint mission has not only had a meaningful impact on the conservation of ecosystems in the northern Red Sea but it has also produced a number of scientific discoveries of regional and global significance."
OceanX combines science, technology and media to explore and raise awareness for the oceans and create a community engaged with protecting them.
Using advanced underwater filmmaking tools, each moment of discovery was documented and updates from the expedition were shared with local schools, as well as OceanX's global audience.
A nine-part series covering the expedition will be launched on Neom's YouTube channel and OceanX's social media channels.-TradeArabia News Service
AD Ports Group H1 revenue surges 21pc to $499m
AD Ports Group, a leading global driver of trade and logistics in the UAE, has recorded a revenue of AED1.83 billion ($499 million) for the first half of the year, up 21 per cent compared to AED1.52 billion ($413 million) last year, mainly driven by organic growth, diversification into new businesses, new leases and partnerships.
Announcing its financial results for the first six months ended June 30, 2021, AD Ports Group said its ebitda rose 8% year-on-year to AED770 million, up from AED714 million last year, with growth across most of the business clusters.
Group CEO Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamsi said: "Our results demonstrate our resilience and the robust growth we have achieved across our business in line with our strategy. We are committed to driving development and diversification to Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s economy."
"Our financial performance is underpinned by continued expansions and increased activity, with key partnerships and joint ventures being established that are expected to deliver reliable returns in the future," he stated.
According to him, the underlying business witnessed cargo volumes growing from 15 million metric tonnes in H1 last year to 25 million metric tonnes in H1 2021, while container throughput grew from 1.57 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) to 1.59 million TEUs during the same period.
The industrial zones leased about 2.4 million sq. metres of land during H1 2021.
"We are focused on growing our customer base across all of our business clusters. A significant part of our business is based on long-term contracts that provide reliable and stable revenues," stated Al Shamsi.
From a capital-raising standpoint, AD Ports Group successfully issued a AED3.67 billion ($1 billion rated A+ by Fitch and S&P, respectively) bond dually listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) in May, thus achieving the lowest coupon rate for an Abu Dhabi government-related entity at the time.
Operational highlights to date in 2021 include the formal inauguration of the expanded container terminal at Fujairah Port in June this year.
Group Chief Financial Officer Martin Aarup said: "Our business model is based on long-term contracts with predictable cash flows, enabling us to plan and invest effectively. Coming out of the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are focusing on delivering solid returns and managing our capital effectively."
"Our invested capital increased from AED19.4 billion in 2020 to AED 22.4 billion this year in line with our ongoing expansion programme," he added.
The group reported a slight decline in return on invested capital to 5.04%, which was mainly due to increase in invested capital across the portfolio, especially in the ports and industrial zone businesses, which are expected to yield incremental returns going forward.-TradeArabia News Service
Sponsors & Partners
Avenues - Contracting Partner
Hilal Conferences & Exhibitions PO Box 1100, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain