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Mideast ‘water ecotourism’? A major benefit of the Abraham Accords

This natural resource has what it takes to unite our peoples, by creating empathy and building mutual trust, from which we can cultivate long-term relationships
The Dead Sea in 5-year time-lapse, (Noam Bedein)
The Dead Sea in 5-year time-lapse, (Noam Bedein)

“Earth Day,” April 22nd, 2021, marks the fifth year since I first began documenting Israel’s world wonder, the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, its receding water level, as well as its breathtaking and enchanting landscape.

Each year, the Dead Sea shrinks more, and it is perpetually at its lowest level in recorded history. It demonstrates the serious lack of regional water solutions and the effect the disappearing water can have on the stability and water security of the region.

“The Abraham Accords” provides an opportunity for Israel and the other countries of the Middle East, especially the United Arab Emirates, to offer first-rate added value to normalization and relations between peoples, while calling for action to preserve the most precious natural resource in our region: water.

Water gives life. This natural resource has what it takes to unite our people, by creating empathy and building mutual trust. This can be the solid human infrastructure from which we advance normalization between our nations and cultivate long-term relationships.

Today, I feel more hopeful and optimistic in partaking in the cultivation of a new Middle East regional alliance. This vision can strengthen the Abraham Accords by fostering a new Middle Eastern regional alliance, initially formed internally through an exchange of education and culture, and then externally by promoting regional and innovative environmental tourism for domestic and foreign visitors.

The Middle East Water Ecotourism

A design of the first Israeli water eco-tour itinerary, created by a team of Israeli experts.

Welcoming UAE tourists

“Environmental protection and sustainability are prime values that create a common story and identity… Bilateral water-sustainability ecotourism between Israel and the United Arab Emirates can potentially showcase an effective tool to excite, educate, and inspire both local leadership as well as the youth from both countries and visitors from around the world.” — Yousif Al Nuaimi, director of Partnerships and Special Projects, The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment

The UAE and Israel, are global leaders in water sustainability, using both ancient and modern methods for preserving nature, wildlife and the most valuable asset of the region, clean and drinkable water.

The State of Israel can adapt measures taken by the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, which has successfully developed ecotourism of the country, reaching 20 percent of annual tourism. This first bilateral alliance can serve as a model to be applied to all countries in the Abraham Accords.

Ami Marom, the founder of Gulf Red Med, an Israeli non-profit advocating regional development initiatives, believes that pursuing regional ecotourism is a key factor in transforming the Middle East into a synergy-driven global economic powerhouse:

“Once people from across the world will flock to our region and witness how its ancient heritage in agricultural innovations, water solutions and global trade, is juxtaposed against its newly emerging leadership role on the world stage in technological advancements in all those fields and others, we’ll know that we are experiencing a new regional golden age. In that sense, ecotourism is both a catalyst and a litmus paper for our joint success”

Asher Fredman, the CEO of Gulf-Israel Green Ventures is managing a company that connects the Israeli and Gulf greentech and cleantech ecosystems. He believes that ecotourism is a way to advance ‘green diplomacy’ between people.

“In order to realize the potential of Gulf-Israel water cooperation, it is necessary for our water-focused entrepreneurs, researchers and environmentalists to get to know each other… Ecotourism, which can bring together key players in the water-tech ecosystems of Israel and the Gulf, could help take water cooperation to the next level. Combining a shared passion for nature and a shared need for advanced water-tech, through tailored regional ecotours, would be an excellent way to advance people-to-people ‘green diplomacy.’ While generally, bridges are for crossing water, in this case, water itself would be the bridge.” 

Aside from the ability to trade, and gain materialistic benefits for the signatory states of the Abraham Accords, education for water sustainability can be the cornerstone for building mutual trust beginning with the younger generations.

The Dead Sea story you present has raised greater awareness in our students whereby they see the significance and importance of promoting regional water-sustainability education…We have had several students who were inspired by your work and have gone on to undertake various water-sustainability causes as a result.”  — Brett Girven, the Dubai ecological Arbors school’s principal.

March 22, 2021 — The UN “World Water Day.” The Arbor ecological school conducted a Middle Years event and was dedicated to “World Water Day 2021.”

I had the honor to be the school’s first guest speaker for this event. Students in sixth through eighth grades have been undertaking marine conservation projects, and through this framework, they experienced my Dead Sea environmental visual arts work.

I concluded my presentation, implementing a vision for students for the next World Water Day 2022, whereby they will be ambassadors of their water conservation projects. They will partake in guiding and accompanying visiting Israeli and international delegations where they will utilize the method of storytelling to further their cause.

Through a regional alliance for water sustainability, I hope to be the bridge across the Middle East, for countries in desperate need of rehabilitating and maintaining their water resources. In addition, it will encourage and deepen relationships with neighboring countries through regional water ecotourism development. The Dead Sea Story is a model case for inspiring this vision.

For Earth Day 2021, an International Dead Sea Photo Exhibition: “The Dead Sea Life” will be displayed in Arad’s Community Center, Thursday, April 22nd, 7 p.m.

www.DeadSeaRevival.org

www.MiddleEastEcotourism.com

About the Author
Noam Bedein is the founder of the Dead Sea Revival Project, a photojournalist and an international speaker. He is also the director of the Sderot Media Center.
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