The oceans are becoming a main source of resources propelling the world’s economy in the 21st Century, adding pressures to those already experienced by the ocean, such as climate change, overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution.  The growing role of the oceans as a major pillar of the world’s economy depends on the conservation of healthy ecosystems.  Solving the conundrum of maintaining healthy marine ecosystems while increasing the supply of resources from the ocean requires an intelligent use of the oceans, which is, therefore, an imperative for the 21st Century.  

The Red Sea Research Center (RSRC) at KAUST aims at furthering research and education towards providing the knowledge to conserve ecosystems by developing advanced capacities to monitor and diagnosed the status of marine ecosystem, understanding the responses of keystone habitats and species to multiple pressures and understanding the processes that allow organisms to cope with, and adapt to stress and pressures. The RSRC is developing world-class research to better understand the marine ecosystem, in particular the tropical marine ecosystems and the Red Sea. ​



Although it is not known how many species there are on Earth, it is known that there are far more unknown species than there are known species. An important step towards more fully understanding how a given ecosystem functions is to understand what organisms live in that ecosystem. KAUST’s biodiversity projects span a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, from molecular diversity studies to cataloging megafauna and novel ecosystems. Some of KAUST’s projects have shed light on entire ecosystems that have been poorly known or little-studied. Other projects have revealed genetic diversity providing insight to potential mechanisms of adaptation. 

The Arabian region is renowned for its unique habitats and endemic species, particularly within the Red Sea. Various syntheses of the patterns of biodiversity help to answer questions about connectivity at evolutionary scales. These patterns give insight to mechanisms of speciation and maintenance of biodiversity in the region. Finally, KAUST’s biodiversity projects will inform efforts to manage, protect, and conserve biodiversity within the region, while simultaneously identifying sustainable ways that the region’s unique biodiversity can be utilized for the benefit of humanity. 



Oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface and play a vital role in the biosphere. From biodiversity to carbon storage, to primary production and half of the oxygen we breathe, the oceans regulate and sustain life on the planet. Today the world’s seas, including the Red Sea, face an array of pressures from fishing, shipping, oil exploration, desalination, increasing population, terrestrial run-off, plastic waste and climatic changes. 

Oceanography at KAUST takes an interdisciplinary approach by combining physical, chemical and biological systems-thinking to understand the dynamic marine environment. Our oceanography is operationalized through an integrated observing, modeling and data management system. This system will provide tools for observing the processes within the Red Sea, understanding the interactions between processes, and providing resources that facilitate informed management for present and future generations.