The Red Sea has long been crucial to the way of life in Saudi’s coastal communities. And it’s easy to see why: Its unique conditions — exceptionally warm, salty and sheltered from outside aquatic influence — have made it a rare oasis for dazzling reefs teeming with biodiversity. Popularized, in part, by French explorer Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s, it’s no wonder that the ancient maritime trade route called the Mare Mecca (Sea of Mecca) has become a coveted destination for fishers, divers and marine enthusiasts all over the world.
“The ecosystems of the Red Sea are some of the most resilient on the planet, remaining pristine and unaffected by global warming, and providing hope for threatened reefs elsewhere,” says professor Carlos M. Duarte, Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
Scientists from KAUST and planners from The Red Sea Development Company, the developer behind the luxury tourism destination The Red Sea Project, are collaborating to keep the Red Sea and its coastlines protected during construction of this expansive ecotourism project. As a part of its conservation efforts, The Red Sea Development Company also hired local sustainability stewards. “As members of the local community, they have a vested interest in protecting the habitat and species that call our site home,” says John Pagano, CEO at The Red Sea Development Company.
For an intimate experience with the unique creatures under Saudi’s Red Sea, embark upon an in-the-water or on-the-water activity.
For more underwater fun, check out four top scuba sites near Jeddah on visitsaudi.com.
—Jason Moss is a food and travel writer who has previously written for Taste of Home, Club Traveler and The Ritz-Carlton Magazine.