Towards more sustainable coastal development in the Arabian Gulf: Opportunities for ecological engineering in an urbanized seascape

John A. Burt, Aaron Bartholomew

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The coastlines of many Arabian cities are now dominated by structures such as seawalls, breakwaters and jetties as urbanization has expanded rapidly in the region. Coastal development has substantially degraded the mangrove forests, saltmarshes, seagrass meadows, oyster beds and coral reefs that traditionally provided invaluable ecosystem goods and services to coastal trading villages of the Arabian Gulf. Regional awareness of environmental issues is growing, however, and local governments are increasingly promoting more sustainable urban development. The use of ecological engineering approaches, along with improved environmental policies, may mitigate some past impacts, and will potentially create new development projects with greater ecological benefits for more sustainable growth in the future. In this paper, we discuss past coastal development in the Gulf, and offer advice on how ecological engineering could be used to enhance the ecological benefits of coastal infrastructure, particularly by encouraging the colonization of juvenile corals and fishes. Such approaches can encourage more sustainable development of this increasingly urbanized seascape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
StatePublished - May 2019



  • Arabian Gulf
  • Breakwaters
  • Coastal development
  • Coastal zone management
  • Ecological engineering
  • Persian Gulf

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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