Monday, November 21, 2005

Threat to Dugong

Gulf Finance House and Hawar

Currently doing the rounds of the media and marketing men in Bahrain is the Nations latest project The Hawar Islands Development Plan, up for promotion by GULF FINANCE HOUSE, the money men behind the Bahrain Financial Harbour and Al Areen Desert Spa. One can only admire how they are abusing; sorry using their connections at court since receiving a GREEN light to cut Al Areen Wildlife sanctuary and nature reserve virtually in half with their vision of Eden namely the Al Areen Desert Spa and Resort. Now they have their market orientated profit driven vision squarely set on the last wilderness area in Bahrain, Hawar. Labelled a tourism development but little more than a carve up for real estate developers and profits for the bank this project by GFH is little more than the sale of the islands to the highest bidder.

The islands are famous for having huge bird colonies and being the breeding area for the Arabian Gulf population of Dugong or Seacows all endangered species. This matters not to GFH, as does the safty of future visitors to the islands for amonst the tens of thousands of soaring birds, GFH plan to build a new airport. They aren't worried about what might happens to a birds if one might meet a plane coming into land after all the birds are just as equally not worried by what might happen to a plane should they meet one midair. The birds know that they will out number the planes one hundred thousand to one and the odds are in their favour, so whats the loss of a few planes against such a small percentage of loss to their endangered friends. Mind you GFH might have the last laugh since the noise of a few jets crashing might scare a few birds away and reduce the risks to the planes in the end. Which ever way it goes the insurance speculators are lining up of a piece of this particular action, my money is on the birds. Just look up Bird Strikes on the web to see the costs and risks to the airlines industry world wide by bird collisions. Obviously GFH do not have access to the Internet.

This bring us onto the poor olds seacows or Dugong, three tons of pinkish mermaid with whiskers. One of the worlds most endangered mammals but my word are they ugly and besides they do not produce any milk, thus will not fit into any sustainable tourism plan so according they will surely have to go. They would not fit into the new paradise anyhow that GFH are going to finance on the Islands, get one of these in a Hotel swimming pool one it would frighten the guest, two fill the pool. So how does GFH intend to move the dugong, well they have come up with a very simple solution. Build some islands close to their breeding area, and as we know no mammal likes being watched doing what comes naturally, so the beasts who cherish their privacy will of course go elsewhere. This will then please the guests staying at the new mega resort, they do not want to watch any immoral acts being committed from a bedroom window especially as the males are known to covert many wives.

So having displaced the endangered species or at least the obvious ones GFH will build a golf course and manage this and the desert areas by the introduction of new flora which means plants and flowers to kill off any nasty creepy crawlies things left that might be dependant on any existing plants habitat and eco-systems.

GFH seem to have thought of everything it would appear but ah ha I thought I had found a flaw in their beautiful plan - they do not have a power supply - access to water - sewage or waste disposal system or infrastructure development to support the plan. No I was wrong it seems, the plan even provides a solution on these points. GFH intend to build a solar farm, mind you its going to have to cover a lot of the island but what the heck if the solar farm requires a bit more land it can always be extended across some of the other islands. Water, well that no problem Hawar has an aquafer a bit salty but less so than the sea this will save guest having to take salt tablets so this fits nicely in with the sustainable aspects of their plan. For sewage and waste disposal a sustainable solution, GFH intention was not immediately obvious but eventually I got it. They are going to use the sea to deliver it to the coast of Qatar as a gift to its people - a thoughtful gift really, one that should compensate for Bahrain winning the ICJ hearings and being ceded the islands by the World Court in preference to Qatar.

On another matter I really did think I had out smarted them, this was on the matter of the service manpower requirement and an area to accommodate the thousands of staff needed to support the mega resort. Then it dawned on me why there is no hospital, clinic or schools they intend to import thousands of expats from the subcontinent and as we all know here people from the subcontinent only need an aspirin and a cardboard box to live in - they certainly don't need proper accommodation or facilities.

All said and done at the end of the day Bahrain will get more beach resorts hotels on an island with no beaches free from the knowledge that other than wall to wall people no other living thing native to the islands is likely to disturb their peace and tranquillity. Other locals will surely benifit as well since instead of having to demonstate at a Ministry or wait out the ten years required on the housing waiting list they can buy a holiday villa or a building plot on the islands as a second home before they even get their first. They can then rent out their holiday homes to the thousands of foreign eco tourist keen to
play dogems in the sky in a aeroplane, visit the solar farm and play a round of golf now thats sustainable tourism GFH style.