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Researcher: Arabian Gulf, Coasts Facing Serious Environmental Pressures as Construction, Dredging, Reclamation Take Toll

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DOHA, Qatar -- The Arabian Gulf and the coasts surrounding various Gulf countries are undergoing tremendous pressure due to massive construction activities, says a researcher.

With massive dredging and reclamation activities becoming common, the sea and its shores are facing serious environmental challenges, researcher Fahad Al Jamali. was quoted in a report in The Peninsula.

The University of Wales, UK, has awarded a doctorate to the research work by Al Jamali, the report added.

The threat posed by the real estate boom is in addition to the pressures resulting from oil spills, contamination from industrial sources and municipal releases, global warming, desalination and power plant discharges into the sea, said the recent research work by a Qatari national.

'Gulf countries have already developed 40 per cent of the coastal line. For instance, 10 kms of the Omani coastline has been reclaimed with quarry and sand beach material.

In Bahrain, the total area dredged is about 1,350ha and the area reclaimed is 900ha, resulting in adding about 39sqkm new land mass in less than 20 years by increasing the surface area from 661.87sqkm in 1975 to 700sqkm in 1994.

Nearly 60 million cubic metre of sediments were dredged during construction of the Saudi Bahrain causeway,' said Dr Fahad Al Jamali in his thesis on ' Biodiversity and Colonisation of macrofauna in artificial lagoon, Qatar'

In Kuwait, a considerable parts of the inter tidal area in front of Kuwait city and in areas on southern coast have been reclaimed. As a consequence, significant erosion problems have developed along most of the fill edges of the reclaimed areas, says Dr Fahad's study.

In Saudi Arabia, approximately 40 per cent of the coastal Gulf area has been developed. Residential and commercial developments have been made along the coast and particularly in Jubail, Tarut Bay, Damman and Khobar, demonstrating the extent of coastal infilling and reclamation in the region.

In Jubail city, more than 200 million cubic metre of sediments adjacent to the development have been removed and 46.5sqkm of coastal habitat have been dredged in Jubail and Dammam. These areas of shallow sub tidal coast are highly productive and form nursery and feeding grounds for most commercial shrimp and fish species, said the study.

Recreation and tourism development have also expanded with the construction of new houses, marinas, resorts and luxury modern hotels. However, these include the creation of canals in the desert to supply beaches for individual houses, marine artificial lagoons and islands.

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