DUBAI: His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, has inaugurated the landmark Dubai Reef project with the launch of the pilot reef modules.

A sustainable initiative by Dubai Can, Dubai Reef is the world’s largest marine reef development project and marks a pioneering step in Dubai’s efforts to promote ecological sustainability. Working around a plan to deploy 20,000 purpose-built reef modules of various sizes over a four-year period, Dubai Reef marks a significant endeavour for the city that will span a staggering 600 square kilometres across Dubai’s waters. The meticulously crafted design of the reef units will see them exceed 400,000 cubic metres in volume.

In line with the directives of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan and The Executive Council of Dubai, the Dubai Reef project is a city-wide collaboration uniting key partners to support the wider strategic goals and ambitions of Dubai and the UAE, including the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), the UAE's Green Agenda – 2030, and the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategy.

Sheikh Hamdan said: “The landmark Dubai Reef initiative is a testament to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Reef ecosystems are unique life sources and vital components in the protection of marine life. Dubai Can’s Dubai Reef project will inject vitality into our coastal waters and contribute to global conservation efforts. The project’s significant long-term environmental and socio-economic impacts will serve Dubai’s commitment to ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.”

With an initial proof of concept championed by Ahmed Mohammed bin Thani and contractors HaejooX in 2021, the first modules have now been activated as part of the Dubai Reef pilot project. Working alongside the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), the newly formed Dubai Environment and Climate Change Authority (DECCA) will be a critical partner in ensuring successful project delivery. As Director General of DECCA, His Excellency Bin Thani will continue to play a key role in supporting the Dubai Reef project and further strengthen the emirate’s advocacy in the realm of environmental protection and climate action. DP World; Dubai Chambers; Nakheel; the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation; and Emirates join DET as strategic partners in the Dubai Reef project.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of DET, said: “Aligned with the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and guided by the directives of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, the Dubai Reef project showcases the emirate’s enduring commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. This collaboration between public and private sector entities will see each partner bring their expertise to drive Dubai’s sustainable future and contribute towards achieving the ambitious goals set forth in the D33 Agenda.”

Ahmed Mohammed bin Thani, Director General of DECCA, said: “The Dubai Reef project will provide diverse environments to attract and stimulate fish and marine life. In 2021, we partnered with leading reef developer HaejooX to launch a two-year proof of concept, analysing the effectiveness of purpose-built reefs in Dubai. The study used advanced technologies and utilised a three-dimensional scanning system to understand the quantities and types of fish present. Preliminary data showed an abundant expansion in marine life.”

The Dubai Reef initiative is a strategic investment set to leave a lasting legacy in terms of protecting marine life and environmental sustainability. The project’s key drivers include enhancing biodiversity, safeguarding Dubai’s coastal and marine habitats, supporting fish populations, and increasing ecosystem resilience. The project will also encourage environmental stewardship, strengthen socio-economic prosperity and ecotourism, and preserve Dubai’s marine heritage.

The project has won over renowned investor Ray Dalio who is involved in various philanthropic initiatives and takes a keen interest in ocean exploration and conservation. “I love this audacious Dubai Reef project because it will be a remarkable contribution to the world’s understanding of the benefits of ocean restoration and as well make the Dubai environment healthier and provide an incredible recreation park. Once again, Dubai is pursuing an ambitiously great project, this time under the visionary guidance of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan. It is an amazing project in an amazing place under amazing leadership,” he said.