Closer to home, the UAE launched the Fujairah Cultured Coral Reef Gardens project in 2019. The five-year project involves the cultivation of 1.5 million coral reef colonies spanning 300,000 square meters. Conservationists from the Florida Keys in the United States will join marine biologists in the Emirates to establish the world’s largest artificial reef. In order to preserve key marine species, the UAE is implementing two action plans for the conservation and management of the 43 shark species and 29 ray species and the conservation of marine turtles and their habitats in territorial waters.
In December 2022, the United Nations Environment Program named the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi's marine ecosystem preservation and rehabilitation program in its top 10 global initiatives. The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi is establishing nurseries for seagrass, reviving the coast and maintaining a haven for marine life in order to preserve the dugong, a mammal now considered vulnerable to extinction. When Abu Dhabi’s seagrass restoration is completed, 3,000 dugongs and over 4,000 green turtles are expected to use the habitat for foraging and reproduction.
The UAE also supports the worldwide effort to save the Arabian oryx, a desert antelope that became extinct in the wild in the early 1970s. Thanks to groundbreaking work at the San Diego and Phoenix zoos, experts have reintroduced the animal into the Middle East, including the UAE, over the last 40 years. UAE founder Sheikh Zayed personally supported the project, breeding oryx himself and founding the Sir Bani Yas nature reserve in 1977.