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A cross- border environmental challenge

Coral Reefs in the Red Sea









Political solutions

Science and diplomacy

The Bleaching Phenomenon

Environmental challenges

Red Sea Features



Lina Challita- Coral Reef Watch program.

“Scientists say our corals in the Red Sea will survive 1.5 degrees Celsius warming, while about 70 or more percent of the rest of the world’s corals are likely to disappear once we get to 1.5,” she said. “We’re at 1.2 now, so they are our hope for once we reach 1.5. But we do not know what will happen once we’re at 1.8.”

  • Gulf of Suez
  • Gulf of Aqaba:
- Egypt, - Israel, - Jordan,- Saudi Arabia
  • Eastern shore: Saudi Arabia. Yemen
  • Western shore: Egypt. Sudan. Eritrea. Djibouti.

The geography of the Red Sea

  • the third largest reef globally.
  • the habitat for an impressive biodiversity:
- 1,100 species of fish- 200 varieties of soft and hard corals - 44 distinct species of sharks.Reef-associated tourism alone is a major income for some Red Sea countries. The coral reefs in the Red Sea sustain a population of over 28 million individuals living along its shores, offering sustenance and livelihood opportunities. Fishing in the region generates an estimated US $230 million annually, while tourism contributes over US $12 billion in annual revenues (Barbière, 2019).).

The Red Sea reef is:

Mass tourism OverfishingOverdevelopmentPollutionOccasional failures of the sewage systemSediment from constructionOil spills from tankers or terminals

Environmental Challenges

Coral reefs are experiencing degradation due to worldwide environmental pressures, including global warming, ocean acidification, and declining oxygen levels in the ocean. Elevated temperatures result in thermal stress, causing the expulsion of zooxanthellae from coral hosts. Consequently, the corals lose their primary source of sustenance, leading to a phenomenon known as coral bleaching, where they turn ghostly white.

The bleaching phenomenon

PERSGA is an intergovernmental organization based in Saudi Arabia, operating within the Arab League.

In 1995:-Foundation of PERSGA, the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

In 1994 during the Peace Negotiation between Jordan and Israel, the countries agreed to: 1) cooperation between Aqaba, Jordan, and Eilat, Israel2) the Joint Oil Spill Response Plan for the northern Gulf of Aqaba3) the Red Sea Dead Sea Canal4) a government-funded joint long-term monitoring program to gather and share essential data.

Science and diplomacy Initiatives

Egypt annually conducts a monitoring program for marine resources and water quality along its coastline, carried out by the Red Sea National Park Protectorate and the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF). However, the data and reports generated from these efforts are not accessible to the public (National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, 2019).Additionally, intermittent monitoring has been conducted by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, headquartered in Saudi Arabia. They have published an atlas derived from a monitoring project spanning 2006 to 2009, which focused on four sites along the Saudi coastline.

Within the Red Sea region, Jordan and Israel were the only countries maintaining continuous national monitoring programs along their coastlines, covering approximately 50 kilometers of the total Red Sea coastline, which accounts for less than 1%. But this joint Jordanian-Israeli monitoring activities have unfortunately declined to a minimal level over recent years.Among these, only Israel's national monitoring data is openly accessible online (The Israel National Monitoring Program at the Gulf of Eilat - Available Data, 2019)

Science and diplomacy Initiatives


accelerate distribution of knowledge

strengthen regional monitoring

The most urgent priority is to advance immediate protection of the Gulf of Aqaba as a World Heritage Site, with Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia as part of that initiative. Ideally, scientists, conservationists, and policy makers should advocate strongly that UNESCO recognise the Red Sea’s entire coral reef as a Marine World Heritage site, as was proposed by Saudi Arabian delegates to the September 2019 UNESCO 4th World Heritage Marine Site conference.

International collaboration, coordination, and planning.

To protect this remarkable natural resource it is important to:


Political solutions play a crucial role in managing the geopolitically Red Sea region.


Environment, U.N. (2017). Red sea and Gulf of Aden. [online] UNEP - UN Environment Programme. Available at: https://www.unep.org/explore-topics/oceans-seas/what-we-do/working-regional-seas/regional-seas-programmes/red-sea-and.Fine, M., Cinar, M., Voolstra, C.R., Safa, A., Rinkevich, B., Laffoley, D., Hilmi, N. and Allemand, D. (2019). Coral reefs of the Red Sea — Challenges and potential solutions. Regional Studies in Marine Science, 25, p.100498. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rsma.2018.100498.MIDDLE EAST CORAL REEFS article, East coral reefs: How sunscreen and mass tourism are taking a toll on marine life. [online] Middle East Eye. Available at: https://www.middleeasteye.net/discover/middle-east-coral-reefs-red-sea-arabian-gulf-tourism-toll.POLICY AND PRACTICE REVIEWS article, Front. Mar. Sci., 26 February 2020, Sec. Coral Reef Research Volume 7 - 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00090POLITICO. (2023). The parable of the last corals on Earth. [online] Available at: https://www.politico.eu/article/red-sea-project-neom-coral-egypt-israel-saudi-arabia-climate-change-cop27/.The Independent. (2022). Is this how we can save the world’s reefs? [online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/sgi/red-sea-coral-reefs-saudi-arabia-b2240163.html.Gross, J. and Yee, V. (2022). The Red Sea’s Coral Reefs Defy the Climate-Change Odds. The New York Times. [online] 19 Nov. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/19/world/middleeast/red-sea-coral-climate.html.‌‌‌‌