Saudi Aramco’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) intends to establish the first nature reserve in the Kingdom in the Empty Quarter Desert, also known as Rub’al Khali.
The reserve will be named the Bio-Diversity Area and covers around 600 square kilometers.
Hisham Mesaieed, director of EPD and head of The Progressive Petroleum Environmental Forum 2014, which is currently being held in Alkhobar, said Aramco would work on restoring the vegetation and re-hosting the wildlife species that previously inhabited the area.
“Trees that used to grow here will be re-planted so the area’s wildlife will be revived again,” he explained.
He indicated that Aramco had conducted extensive studies on the flora and fauna in the area.
Experts participating in the forum said the Empty Quarter is almost devoid of human life due to high temperatures, rare rainfalls, and lack of arable land.
According to the geologist Hal McClure, the Empty Quarter was an alluvial valley created during the Paleocene epoch over 65 million years ago and the sand dunes were formed during dry periods at the end of the Pleistocene some 2 million years ago.
Samir Altabeeb, Saudi Aramco’s vice president, highlighted that an energized and active society would contribute toward raising social awareness regarding environmental preservation.
“Aramco has placed environmental protection and the safety of societies as its priority since its establishment some 80 years ago,” he said.
The Kingdom has witnessed staggering social and economic development in the past decades, he added, however, “The future of the Kingdom’s social progress requires greater focus to be placed on the environment, health and fitness as well as reducing pollution levels and improving eating habits.”
Khalid Abdul Qader, head of the forum’s scientific committee, said the forum will discuss 15 key subjects in the environment, oil, and petrochemical fields, and will exchange knowledge and expertise on the most vital environmental aspects that oil and petrochemical industries face.
The participants were keen on addressing issues related to the oil and petrochemical sectors.