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The International Writers Magazine:Middle East

How to breathe life into the Dead Sea.
Saleem Quna
Who owns the Dead Sea? Who controls what pours in it or what is subtracted from it? Who is entitled to decide its present and future? Why do we care about it?

Dead C

The answers to these questions can be as elusive as the region's past and present politics. But these are only some naïve straight forward questions that must be asked now as the international campaign seeking to determine the new 7 wonders of nature of our planet is coming to a close.

There is one further trickier question; could any piece of geography that remained idle during recurrent full-scale wars such as the Dead Sea area, become the catalyst or threshold to real peace between arch enemies? My own reply is why not, if that location is amazingly special and unique in many ways. I find this last criterion squarely fitting the profile of the Dead Sea.
Mount Everest in the Himalayas, for example, is special because it is the highest geographical point on earth. The Dead Sea basin happens to be the earth's lowest spot. Lake Baikal in Russia is also special because it has the freshest water among world's lakes. The salinity of the Dead Sea reaches 33.7%. All kinds of fish thrive in all lakes around the world. The Dead Sea is the deadliest trap for marine-life.

But after all, the Dead Sea is not a mean place. It has other gifts and pleasures to offer to its visitors and friends. It is abundant with rich minerals including the thick greasy mud that cures serious skin diseases. Salt, magnesia and many other medical products are subtracted from its water. Floating on its surface while reading a paper can be one in a life's-time experience. For millions of years it has been an essential part of the ecological system of the surrounding region.

This is a brief history of the Dead Sea, the 80km long and 18km wide natural reservoir of salty water at almost 400 meters below sea level. It is landlocked between Jordan to the east, Israel to the west and the Palestinian territories to the northwest.

Recently the status and destiny of the Dead Sea came under international limelight once again The Swiss-based New 7 Wonders of the World Foundation has listed the Dead Sea along other 26 candidate sites to determine the first new 7 wonders of nature. Back in 2007, this same foundation under the supervision of Bernard Weber, had organized an international voting campaign to choose the new7 wonders of the world. The ancient rose city of Petra in Jordan less than 100km south of the Dead Sea, was voted the second world's new wonder of the world after the Great Wall of China. The number of visitors to Petra since then has multiplied and Jordan's became more visible on world tourist map.

This time, if the Dead Sea is voted as one of the new 7 wonders of nature, its reputation will receive a significant boost and it will feature as a major tourist destination on map of the Middle East. More significantly, is its status as a unique location will receive world attention. If this happens, its destiny will be saved from, the scientifically, proven forecast that tells its imminent disappearance in 50 years at maximum, if things go on un-checked.

For those who do not know, in the Middle East, there is plenty of room for symbols, hints and insinuations, ancient and modern. It is the land of interpreting ancient legends and myths through modern perspective. This convergence has erected the pillars of the region's real politics that often gets in the way of solving other simpler human, environmental and geographical side issues.

Nevertheless, the voting for Dead Sea will definitely certify it as one of the natural wonders of our planet today. The campaign is on until the 11th of this coming November
Whoever you are, wherever you come from and whatever your convictions might be, the door to cast your vote is still open and easy. By voting we will first help recognizing the Dead Sea as one of the new 7 wonders of nature. Second we will help focus world's attention through the media and the various environmental and ecological agencies and organizations on its chronic problem, namely the shrinking of its body. If that could be achieved, it would mean that the parties involved had finally saw eye to eye the challenge facing them in relation to the Dead Sea.

Because no party can claim exclusive ownership or control of this natural wonder, this is a unique moment to make an immediate difference and breathe life back into the Dead Sea.
© saleem quna October 6th 2011

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