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Dhahran mourns passing of company scientist

Yusef FadlallaOne of Dhahran community’s respected members and scientists, Dr. Yousef Fadlalla, unexpectedly passed away on Jan. 11.

Fadlalla worked with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) as a Marine Environmental Specialist in the areas of Marine Protection and Environmental Stewardship. He worked initially on Saudi Aramco marine projects from KFUPM for two decades and then moved to Saudi Aramco in 2003 and joined EPD. He was a highly knowledgeable and compassionate marine scientist. During his career in Saudi Arabia spanning over three decades, he worked incessantly to protect the Kingdom’s fragile environment, passionately leading many environmental protection and conservation efforts extending from the Arabian Gulf to the Red Sea. He was inspirational to many young engineers and scientists alike.

Fadlalla had played a leading and central role in the development and implementation of the company’s marine protection strategy and stewardship initiatives. He spearheaded the use of advanced technology that minimized the footprint of projects on the Kingdom’s biologically sensitive marine environment and promoted a zero-discharge approach for offshore wastes.

He was instrumental in relocation of coral colonies from impacted areas to where these marine organisms could thrive free of disturbance. He coordinated the deployment of fixed mooring buoys around the coral islands in the Arabian Gulf, which eliminated the need to use anchors that could decimate these biodiversity hubs. He also contributed to the production of the Island Biodiversity in the Western Arabian Gulf, aimed at raising environmental awareness throughout the Kingdom on the ecological values and sensitivities of the coral islands.

He played a major role related to protecting the marine environment in mega-projects such as King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST), Manifa, Khursaniyah and others. He also provided subject matter expertise for the design and content development of a “Man and the Environment in Arabia” gallery at the King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge and Culture, currently under construction in Dhahran, and was one of the main architects of the proposed Saudi Aramco-KAUST Center for the Environment.

At the time of his death, Fadlalla was leading the EPD team responsible for developing the corporate initiative for the preservation and protection of ecologically sensitive areas and biodiversity, with specific responsibility to establish an Ecological Research Station and a wildlife sanctuary at Shaybah, and an artificial reef in the Arabian Gulf.

The scientific community has lost a dear friend and champion. He will be greatly missed. He is survived by his wife, Lina, and children, Ramsey (sixth grade) and Sara (kindergarten).

Dr. Fadlalla’s family can be reached by email at Karl Kleemeier

First Eco Park

Buoys Protect Vital Coral Reefs

DHAHRAN, August 12, 2009 -- Saudi Aramco recently installed 36 permanently moored buoys around the coral-reef islands of Jana, Karan and Kurayn to protect vital coral reefs Buoys Protect Vital Coral Reefs

The buoys are one way Saudi Aramco demonstrates its environmental stewardship, its role in environmental protection and citizenship.

The new system of buoys, installed by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), is for use by fishing and recreational-dive vessels. The buoys offer boaters an environmentally friendly alternative to anchors.

“Every time an anchor is dropped on the reef, coral is destroyed,” said Dr. Yusef Fadlalla, a marine environmental specialist at EPD.

“The Egyptian Red Sea alone is host to over 1,000 mooring systems with enormous conservation and economic returns. In protecting the reef-building corals of the offshore islands, we conserve them as critical centers of biodiversity in the Gulf.”

A buoy is tethered here below the water line









A buoy is tethered here below the water line


Throughout the years, coral reefs have suffered damage and breakage from boat anchors. More often than not, anchors or their steel chains are wedged between coral colonies. Sometimes, they are dragged along the seafloor as the vessel moves with the wind and currents or when it raises the anchor. That damages or destroys vast tracts of coral habitat.

The buoys around the coral reef islands allow vessels to simply approach and hook their lines to the buoy pickup line without causing any disruption to underwater life. This method has proven successful around the world.

As well as being a host for undersea biodiversity, the coral islands serve as critical nesting sites for birds and egg-hatching habitats for endangered species of marine turtles.

As boaters use the buoys, coral reefs will thrive and fulfill their crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem. They will remind fishermen, divers and other users about the importance of protecting sustainable resources.

Courtesy of Saudi Aramco