The announcement came during festivities in Jeddah marking the maiden call of MSC Bellissima in Saudi Arabia.
‘Our family company has a long tradition of seafaring, and protecting the ocean is a core value for us,’ explained Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC Cruises. ‘This is also at the heart of the work done by the MSC Foundation, and our efforts here started with Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
‘Through the partnership with the Ba’a Foundation, where commitment to the ocean is our common denominator, we are now able to become more global in our efforts. The Red Sea is home to some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world, and through the knowledge and research from the experts and graduates at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology as well as the research programme at Ocean Cay, we can really make a difference globally to coral restoration around the world, which is pivotal for ensuring the health of our oceans.’
During the first phase of the partnership, a series of scientific virtual meetings will commence to exchange knowledge and define targeted areas for collaboration. A longer-term goal will be to share the findings with the wider scientific community, decision makers around the world and passengers that visit the destinations.
Ba’a has a five-year initiative which includes immediate intervention at Jeddah’s coral reefs.
Executive director of Ba’a Foundation, Bader Alrabiah, noted that the Red Sea contains the most unique ecosystems and coral reefs in the world, adding, ‘Ba'a Foundation aspires to realize its vision and mission by engaging initiatives and strategies in non-profit projects and contributing to the overall development of the non-profit sector through long-term sustainability…’
Coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine species, serve as a food and economic resource for half a billion people and protect coastal communities from storms and erosion. According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is predicted that 70-90% of coral reefs are in danger of dying out within the next two decades.