The Khalifa Port (KP) in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, is one of the Worlds’ largest Ports, based on an offshore island. The development is located adjacent to the Ras Ghanada reef, the UAE and Gulf’s largest coral reef around 35sq Km in size, home to 8 million corals. One of the driving factors that placed the Port Island 3 km offshore was the presence of the Ras Ghanada reef and sea-grass. Covering nearly 20 km2 Ras Ghanada coral reef hosts the only cactus coral along Abu Dhabi’s mainland coast, and is recognized for its biodiversity and reef development.
During a Pre-Master Plan study, four general alternative areas for the port were considered. They included an offshore location, an inshore location and two intermediate ones. The offshore location was assessed as having the least impact, and the Inland location the next least impact. One of the driving factors that placed the Port Island 3km offshore was the presence of the Ras Ghanada reef and sea-grass. The 8km-long environmental breakwater, built at the cost of US$240 million, protects the sensitive coral from contamination, turbidity and unwanted temperature fluctuation caused by port operations.
To ensure marine ecosystem is not impacted, a marine ecological monitoring & preservation program was designed and implemented to evaluate the anthropogenic impacts. This monitoring & preservation program includes a detailed baseline survey, followed by regular surveys 3 times/year and ongoing initiatives to preserve and enhance the marine habitats including trans-locations of new coral recruits to more favorable locations. The coral near KP are still among the best in the Gulf and compares favorably worldwide, e.g. with the Caribbean and the Great Barrier.