I read a report in the GDN today which sort of alarmed me; it seems that Bahrain is bidding for a seat in the UNESCO World Heritage Commitee. The aim is to make Bahrain the regional hub for cultural and natural heritage preservation.
Cultural and natural heritage preservation?
Now I know Bahrain is a lot of things; we've managed to produce a great big deal of Aluminium for the rest of the world; we've managed to create a huge financial and insurance sector, arguably the hub for the region; we've managed to create great strides in tourism and economic devlopment; yada yada yada.
But when talking of culture and heritage? We've done all but completely destroy it. This really doesn't make sense to me; how can a country that has not only neglected but purposely destroyed a large part of its own heritage be considered for such a committee? Don't get me wrong, I love my country. I would love to see it advance and grow on the global map, but the way things go, you don't get a fat kid to work in a cake shop.
Lets push this situation to the extreme; here's an example of what could happen if Bahrain is put in charge of ALL world culture and heritage:
- The Colloseum in Rome, Italy, will be taken down to make way for a brand new Financial Center
- The Amazon Rainforest in South America to be wiped out in order to built a brand new luxury tourist resort
- The Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, to be filled in to create land to build a full Insurance sector
And so on... And you might ask why i'm looking at this issue so negatively. Well, when we look at Bahrain, we see that Ain Athari, one of the biggest and most famouse natural springs in Bahrain doesn't exist anymore. It's been replaced by a big swimming pool, which probably isn't even filled with water at the moment. My guess is a lot of the land reclaimation in the surrounding areas has blocked all routes of fresh water to the spring.
Ain Athari Back in the 50's:
Ain Adhari a few years ago:
Bahrain, the land of a million palm trees (or so it used to be called), used to be all green, no matter where you go. Now, its all grey; most of the trees and palm trees have been cut down in order to make way for new developments and construction. So you have roads, highways, towers and shopping malls everywhere. But hardly any more palm trees.
What Bahrain USED to look like:
And now replaced by highways and shopping malls:
The tree of life, a natural wonder being a tree thats existed for almost 400 years in the middle of the desert, with no apparent source of water. Yet now it is a spot for people to go and drink, or to graffiti on, etc.
The Tree of Life...
Covered in Graffiti...
So, yes, my final word on Bahrain the UNESCO seat? Don't do it!
Bahrain vies for global heritage seat
By REBECCA TORR
BAHRAIN is bidding for a seat, which would put it on the world heritage map.
It is standing for elections to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Committee later this year.
Elections take place on October 24 and 25 at the Unesco headquarters, Paris.
The aim is to make Bahrain regional hub for cultural and natural heritage preservation, promotion, training and expertise, officials said yesterday.
Bahrain's election campaign is being spearheaded by the Information Ministry's Culture and National Heritage Sector.
"We feel Bahrain should be elected because it has the most professional expertise in the Arab world at the moment," sector heritage management and Unesco affairs counsellor Britta Rudolff told a Press conference at the Bahrain National Museum yesterday.
"Morocco and Tunisia are already on the committee but we feel the Gulf region should be presented as well.
If Bahrain is elected, there are plans for training in the preservation and management of World Heritage Sites and activities to promote international discussion on the challenge or urban development in or adjacent to World Heritage Sites.
"Bahrain is aiming at being the centre of expertise at the regional level and this campaign is just the beginning," noted world heritage and archaeology adviser Karim Hendili.
"For Bahrain to be known at an international level, it will give visibility. The impact it will have on Bahrain will be 10 times that of F1."
The Press conference was also attended by Information Ministry assistant under-secretary for culture and national heritage Shaikha Mai bint Khalifa Al Khalifa, Bahrain's deputy permanent delegate to Unesco Adnan Al Hamadi and sector natural conservation adviser Dr Saeed Al Khuzai.
Bahrain's election campaign was presented at the Unesco World Heritage Committee's 31st session, which concluded in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this month.
The presentation was delivered by Shaikha Mai and other officials.