The Red Sea is leading the fight against light pollution in the Middle East, becoming the region’s first designated ‘Dark Sky’ destination. Olivia Palamountain reports

As global interest in dark sky preservation grows, the Red Sea is set to become the only certified Dark Sky Reserve in the Middle East thanks to efforts by developer, Red Sea Global.

The project joins Under Canvas Lake Powell-Grand Staircase, a safari-inspired tented resort in Southern Utah, which became the first lodging worldwide to earn a certification from DarkSky International in 2023.

The Red Sea is working closely with non-profit organisation DarkSky International to implement innovative lighting strategies at its Saudi Arabian luxury resorts, including the newly opened Six Senses Southern Dunes and the St Regis Red Sea Resort.

The strategic use of programmable digital lighting control systems and astronomical timers allows the artificial lighting to adapt to environmental seasonal changes, providing sustainable lighting for guests while minimising the harmful effects on the environment.Neom SaudiBy carefully controlling and reducing light pollution across the entire development area, the Red Sea offers vital protection to the region’s nocturnal and diurnal wildlife, many of which exhibit natural photoperiodic behaviour and depend on natural light and darkness for survival.

One such species is the critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle, which faces significant challenges due to light pollution during its nesting and hatching periods along the shores of the Red Sea.

Excessive artificial light can deter nesting attempts or cause nesting site abandonment, hindering the reproductive success of this already endangered species.

Set against the backdrop of one of the world’s least explored deserts, guests at the Red Sea can also experience astrophotography sessions, campfire storytelling and stargazing excursions, with the chance to spot the Milky Way – a celestial wonder now obscured from view for one-third of the global population due to light pollution.

The relationship between the stars and humanity holds profound significance in Arabian culture. This dates back to nomadic peoples relying on the night sky to illuminate their journeys, makes Red Sea’s ‘nature first’ approach and its efforts to nurture and value this connection all the more profound.

Looking ahead, Red Sea Global plans to work on the existing conditions of villages and neighbouring cities to reduce sky glow and operate more sustainably by upgrading their external lighting.