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Director's Message

Dr. Wail Sulaiman Falath

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Center for Environment & Water (CEW) at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Established more than forty years ago, CEW is actively engaged in serving the Kingdom in research areas related to Environment and Water.Having state-of-the-art research facilities, the center provides advisory services to the industry, policy makers and the public by establishing synergies between scientific research and its application in tune with the needs of the country and its people. We have developed partnerships with governmental organizations as well as private companies and corporations. CEW has been playing a major role in supporting the oil and gas industry by conducting numerous environmental impact assessments and monitoring related projects. The Center’s strength lies in its energetic teams of multidisciplinary professionals and experts whose pioneering spirits are the major force driving the efforts to create innovative solutions to practical problems. Of about 90 staff, 35 hold Ph.D. degrees, 36 hold MS degrees, and 15 hold BS and other degrees and certifications. We maintain excellent laboratory and data processing facilities. Currently, towards the end of year 2019, the Center is executing more than 50 active projects with total values of about 225 million Saudi Riyals.

The Marine Research group is dedicated to the pursuit of scientific excellence in the field of Marine Sciences. Marine research is organized into three main areas: Physical oceanography, dealing with the currents, waves and tides, Chemical oceanography dealing with marine chemistry and contaminants, and Biological oceanography, dealing with planktonology, benthic ecology, and fisheries science. Many of the marine group projects are related to the oil industry and together with the Environmental Protection Department of Saudi Aramco, CEW continuously develops best practices to improve techniques to minimize the environmental impacts to the marine life. Additionally, the ecotoxicology laboratory helps to protect marine ecosystems by understanding the effects of chemicals and other stressors on the marine flora and fauna. CEW’s upcoming marine research programs include: i) High Frequency Radar (HFR) to provide synoptic, high frequency and high resolution data in the field of operational oceanography for measuring surface currents, waves and winds, with direct applications in different sectors and an unprecedented potential for the integrated management of the coastal zone; ii) Buoy-based real-time coastal and ocean monitoring systems; iii) Tagging the marine megafauna such as turtles, whales, whale sharks, and dugongs; and iv) Continuous real-time visual monitoring systems via underwater cameras.

CEW has conducted an extensive 5-years study (2013-2017) on Fisheries in the Arabian Gulf. The study included development of mathematical models and software for stock assessment, population dynamics, and life history of fishery stocks, essential habitats, and ecological underpinnings of fishery productivity, environmental impacts of current fishing techniques, and management framework for sustainable and productive fisheries. To perform the aforementioned challenging tasks, the Center has established state-of-the-art laboratories for conducting research in fish aging and reproduction as well as obtaining expertise in marine surveys covering the pelagic and demersal realms. Because of the experience gained and the built in-capabilities, CEW is considered a regional leader in fisheries research with the highest number of publications in highly reputed scientific journals, thus contributing to the progress of knowledge and the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources. Sustainable fisheries contributing to food security and economic diversification rely on management based on continued scientific research. Therefore, CEW will continue conducting fisheries research in the Saudi waters of both the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea.

Earlier, terrestrial research was confined to supporting Environmental Impact Assessment and Monitoring projects. Keeping in mind, the emerging issues and growing demand, the terrestrial research group is being reinforced by recruiting highly specialized and experienced personnel from various disciplines including geology, geomorphology, soil, botany, and zoology, as well as procuring state-of-the-art instruments and equipment. CEW’s future vision is to expand the terrestrial research activities to cover ecology, vegetation distribution, change detection, hazard zonation, sensitivity zonation, and applied geomorphology.

In July, 2019, the Center of Research Excellence in Desalination and Water Treatment became a part of CEW. This has brought a great challenge of promoting efficient and cost effective solutions to Water Desalination, which is the main source of drinking and industrial water in the Kingdom. One year before that, CEW activated the water resources and management group by hiring specialized professionals and procuring the needed state-of-the-art equipment and instruments. Both Water Desalination and Water Resources and Management groups are working on capacity building and establishing partnerships with different stakeholders in the Kingdom.

In addition to the current GIS capabilities supporting CEW projects, it is planned to establish a Remote Sensing and GIS (RSG) Laboratory. The purpose of the RSG lab will be to carry out innovative research towards the development of mitigation strategies for protection of earth and environment. This will be performed through a new modeling approach, application of advanced techniques, and use of innovative optical devices, and sensors. RSG lab will focus on interdisciplinary areas, including tracking of harmful algal blooms, and development and improvement of algorithms for remote sensing for coastal and marine regions. In addition, RSG research group will cover radiative transfer modeling of ocean and atmosphere, application of remote sensing in water resources management, marine habitat mapping, air quality mapping, remote sensing of oil spill, mapping of environmental sensitivity index, flood inundation mapping, digital elevation modeling, water body mapping, water quality mapping, and land subsidence assessment.

In conclusion, over a period of time, CEW has strengthened its resolve to meet the emerging challenges of the Kingdom. It is poised to grow further and further and is in the process of continuously updating its knowledge, honing its capabilities in the emerging areas of its spheres, and by perfecting cutting edge technologies to suit the needs of the country. CEW-with all its new age capacity in areas of its specialization will stand the Kingdom in good stead by offering sound scientific solutions.