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March 2016: Desk Based Assessment for the impact of construction works for King Abdullah Port project in Saudi Arabia on maritime cultural heritage

King Abdullah Port is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s newest port facility, located in King Abdullah Economic City. It is a full-service commercial port with a highly strategic location. The Port will deliver world-class service by means of state-of-the-art computer systems and a highly experienced staff.

The first privately owned and funded port in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the port is overseen by a single regulator – this is the foundation for a streamlined experience. One of the projected necessary works will be to implement reclamation and dredging works for the construction phase of the King Abdullah Port. The dredging and reclamation work represents a direct impact on the seabed in the designated area, which itself poses a credible threat to and/or destruction of the underwater Cultural Heritage present in the area. The same goes for the various construction work.

In response to the growing threats, and because of an increasing awareness of the importance of the underwater cultural heritage, on November 13, 2015 Saudi Arabia deposited with the Director-General its instrument of ratification of the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.

Engineering and consulting agency Witteveen+Bos (W+B) recognizes and supports the importance of maritime cultural heritage and archaeology as objects of research in the overall Masterplan of the King Abdullah Port project. Both from a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) point of view acknowledging Saudi Arabia’s maritime history as well as the legal aspect of Saudi Arabia’s ratification of the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in 2011.

We received a request for proposal From Witeveen+Bos for a Desk Based Assessment (DBA) on the known and/or potential maritime archaeological and maritime historical resources within the King Abdullah Port project area. This will include the inter-tidal and the marine zone.

Our DBA will take into consideration records relating to the defined area, to gauge the maritime archaeological potential of the King Abdullah Port area and understand how best to work with and protect it during the development of the King Abdullah Port. Our objective is to produce the maritime archaeology part of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) conducted by Witteveen+Bos. As such our DBA is a complement to and can be fully integrated in the ESIA.


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