Coral reef for sale…

13 May, '07

This morning’s Al-Wasat greets us with the fantastic news that the country (or someone in it) is going to be richer by almost one billion Dollars as it is (considering? selling? sold? given? gifted?) selling one of the largest constellations of coral reefs 20kms to the north of the main island. Fasht Al-Jarem is one of the main breeding grounds for fish and prawns. These “fashts” or coral reefs are so important that the Cabinet discussed making these reefs natural reserves.

But when money of this magnitude talks, fish and 80,000 people’s livelyhoods who depend on the sea and that area in particular be damned.

And why not. That has already happened with a purported sale of virtually the whole eastern side of the island’s sea to investors for purportedly double that amount.

Fasht Al-Jarem, Google Earth
download Googleِ Earth locator

كشفت مصادر مطلعة لـ «الوسط» أن «فشت الجارم» وهو أكبر «الفشوت» في البحرين، يستكمل عملية بيعه بمبلغ 785 مليون دولار أميركي (295 مليون دينار بحريني)، لجهات غير بحرينية. ولم توضح المصادر ما اذا كانت هذه الاموال ستدخل خزينة المملكة الرسمية، أو أنها ستتجه إلى إطار خارج ذلك.

ويعتبر فشت الجارم، الذي يبعد عن السواحل الشمالية لجزيرة البحرين الأم بـ 20 كيلومترا فقط، أكبر الفشوت مساحة. وتبلغ مساحته الإجمالية 260 كيلومترا مربعا، كما يحتل موقعه أهمية بالغة، كونه يقع على رأس الجزيرة الأم وسط مياه الخليج.

وكان وزير الأشغال والإسكان فهمي الجودر أكد في إجابته على سؤال للنائب السابق عبدالعزيز الموسى بشأن المشروعات الإسكانية «أن مساحة الأراضي التي تم الاحتفاظ بها كاحتياطي استراتيجي للمستقبل بلغت 50250 هكتارا مقسمة على عدة مناطق على رأسها فشت الجارم»، الأمر الذي أثار تساؤل المهتمين بشئون الإسكان من النواب بشأن تناقض تصريحات الجودر، وعملية البيع التي تمت أخيرا بحسب ما نقلت مصادر مطلعة لـ «الوسط».

ويأتي الحديث عن عملية بيع فشت الجارم بعد مضي أكثر من ثلاثة شهور على الحديث الدائر في الوسط الاقتصادي البحريني في مطلع شهر فبراير/ شباط الجاري عن أن مجموعة من المستثمرين البحرينيين والخليجيين ينوون إقامة مشروع سياحي ترفيهي على غرار «ديزني لاند»، وأنه تم اقتراح فشت العظم لهذا المشروع على أن تدخل مملكة البحرين شريكا في المشروع بـ «الأرض»، الأمر الذي لم تؤكده أية جهة رسمية، بينما نفت شركة «ديزني لاند» حينها اية صلة لها بمشروع من هذا النوع.

كما أن من غير الواضح إلى الآن الى أين ستذهب الاموال التي تأتي من بيع الفشت، وليس واضحا ما اذا كان مثل هذا البيع ضمن مخطط الهيكل الاستراتيجي.
الوسط – ١٣ مايو ٢٠٠٧

Bahrain expansionist plan map

This reminded me rather starkly of a post written (by the now resurrected!) Babbling Bahrania in April 2005 in which she showed maps of expansionist plans for the islands which I initially regarded as fictional; my thinking then was rather naive; no one would dare destroy our environment and rob it from future generations like that.

With what has happened since then and continues to happen in our political situation and the various conspiracies against our people going unchecked but in fact even encouraged by some of our parliamentarian stooges and their masters, that veil of naivety has most certainly been removed.

So go ahead, be our guest, screw the environment and the people who depend on it. The constant flow of greenbacks is much more important in Bahrain WLL (closed).

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Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Its because the bahrain-Qatar causeway is passign through there and there is likely to be a major development by the side of the causeway.

  2. mahmood says:

    Partly, and that was what the Sitra conference was about.

  3. Oh.. My.. God..
    Speechless, Speechless..

    I once watched an Egyptian movie called “Awez Ha’ai” (meaning I Want My Right), in which the star is trying to sell all public property Egypt to investors – in a public auction. Rather fictional I thought, but very well said to convey the author’s message.

    In Awez Ha’ai the revenue of Egypt sale deal was to be divided equally amongst Egyptians, each one getting 1 Million dollar. Still, at the end of the movie the star backtracks- and never makes the sale deal to the “Group of Foreign Investors”. No, he didn’t want to sell his share in Egypt for 1 Million dollar.

    We’re selling Fasht Al Jarem, building a causeway over Fasht Al-Adhem, truely feels like Bahrain W.L.L. Any IPO coming up soon?

  4. It would be interesting to know who is behind this, where all that money is going or to whom.

    Bahrain, well, where do I start, is a country for sale, nothing in Bahrain is not for sale, i wouldn’t be surprised if some one announces that he sold the rights of Ardha, Laywa, and Jerba to foreign investors.

    Bahrain go its name from the see and the sweet water wills, the wills disappeared thanks to all the reclamation, and now we are killing the sea, we might as will change the name Bahrain to something else.

    We are selling not only our land but also our History and future, sort of what the Jews did in Palestine, the started purchasing everything until they owned the country.

    I say lets start a petition to stop this nonsense and if takes, lets take it up to Green peace, this is just BS.

  5. Butterfly says:

    There is one positive thing, we will be able finally to see Fasht Al-Jarem. Thirty two islands that we heared about and never saw!

  6. nzm says:

    Aaaaargh – acts like this make me so angry. As a diver, I’ve seen the damage being caused in Dubai due to their reclamation projects.

    The Jebel Ali Marine Reserve, a protected area, was handed over to the developers of the Jebel Ali Palm – who promptly dumped sand all over it and destroyed a pristine example of an Arabian ecosystem.

    There is a hefty report written in 2004 which details the state of the coral reefs around the world. It’s available here.

    The Middle East section starts on Page 155. It doesn’t give the region a very good writeup when it comes to coral conservation efforts.

    Of Bahrain, it has this to say: (the bold emphasis is mine)
    Page 158:
    Coral reefs in Bahrain are mainly distributed around the northern and eastern coastlines. Reefs are of special environmental and economic importance, but their growth, structure and distribution are limited to a few areas by extreme temperatures, salinity and high sediment loads. The reefs include: Fasht Al Adhom; west Fasht Al Dibal; Khwar Fasht; north Jabari; Fasht Al Jarim; Samahij; and Abul Thama. Live coral cover at all sites around Bahrain is very low following widespread mortality in 1996 and 1998. Recovery over the past 6-8 years has been very slow, hindered by an accumulation of silt resulting from extensive landfill. The only significant population of living coral in Bahrain surrounds Abul Thama, a small raised area surrounded by 40 m deep water, about 72 km north of the main island.

    Page 164:
    In Bahrain, land reclamation on the northern and eastern coasts have increased the urban area by 11 km² in less than 10 years, while also damaging valuable shallow coastal resources, including coral reefs. Large amounts of sediment were dispersed directly towards coral areas around the Muharraq dredging area, with about 182,000 m² of reef area lost between 1985 and 1992. There are now proposals to reclaim part of major coral reef areas at Fasht Al Adhom, and construct a causeway linking Bahrain with Qatar, further damaging reefs and disrupting currents in the Gulf of Salwah. Despite government regulations controlling impacts from land reclamation, there is little enforcement and many projects are completed without formal government approval. About 10 suction dredgers routinely operate in Bahrain’s waters, including specialised cutter dredges capable of working in areas of weak rock, such as coral reefs. Extensive new housing developments are planned for areas currently offshore.

    This is criminal.

    Is the only way that our children are going to be able to view undersea habitats is what will be available in aquariums?

    There is very little regard for what this does for the food chain too. The Gulf region risks the loss of all sealife which depends on the coral reef systems.

  7. Salman says:

    I am just wondering, why do they want to connect the bridge through the coral reef, and not around it? And why did they choose the longer route? When they can connect Bahrain to Qatar from the south of Bahrain, rather than the north? Is that not going to cost even more money by having to make a longer bridge?

    What about putting so many people out of a job, and out of an income source? I for one, have a lot of family members who depend on the sea as an income source, and Fasht Al Jarem is one of their main spots, and it is most of Bahrain’s fishermen’s spot anyway.

    Someone is going to cash some money big time, and some contractors are going to cash in a lot of money for this mammoth of a project, and working on completing it.

    But as they say “If you are away from the fire, you cannot feel the heat”

    May God help those about to be affected by this decision.

  8. Proud Bahraini says:

    Nice,

    I think that one day the whole country will be private property, so I guess would have to pay transit tax if you want to drive around or walk, you never know an AIR consuming TAX might be applied, you never know.

  9. Bahrainiac says:

    Very interesting considering Fasht Jarem is a major MOI Coast Guard base and anti-smuggling observation post……very interesting indeed…. :whistle:

  10. Redbelt says:

    yech

    The new Bahrain map looks like.. It’s a spreading cancer, or a spreading fungal infection! Don’t you think?

  11. Just me says:

    Hi Mahmood,

    Do u happen to have a blogger’s listserv (email addresses)?

    The situation is no longer tolerable. There are absolutely no checks and balances or limits to stop what this government is capable of doing.

    The bloggers are doing a great job by raising awareness of the major issues. But Bahraini civil society is in tatters. We need to take action. We need to start start organising ourselves into effective lobby and campaign groups around ISSUES rather than ideology/religion. For a start this is a clear breach of the land rights of the indiginous people of Bahrain.

    Powerful people + unscrupulous developers = land exploitation and profit

    Yet another example of the excess of greed and aggression.

    What are we doing? We need to start institutionalising and coordinating our efforts. We need to start fundraising, we need to start campaigning, we need to start telling the world what is going on.

    The only effective lobby group we have in Bahrain is the BCHR. We need more defient civic organisations that tackle other issues too.

    We need to start EMPOWERING ourselves to face these constant breaches.

    I want to be able to be an engine of change in my country, not a silenced and trodden subjugated object worrying whether i’ll even be able to get a 6 foot by 1 foot grave if this carries on.

    I think the environment is just an example of the issues we can all unanimously unite for in this country….

  12. Just me says:

    Has there been a single study done on the effect of all these artificial amwaj, palm, seahorse, dog, monkey islands being built?

    Has an impact assessment on the environment, the surrounding residents, land prices, cost of living, inflation, local cultural and economic impact been made? If so, where can I get my copy?

    Do we not have the right to know the answers to these questions? Or be consulted.

    I’m sorry, I don’t think we ever should, or need to wait for a question to be put in parliament.

    I think a few of us should get together, maybe find an international environmental NGO that is concerend with the indiginous land rights and environmental concern in the developing world, and try and work with it. We should get a few chartered land surveyors to carry out a few key studies, get some lawyers to see how these projects stand legally under international law, and get some volunteers and activitists to lobby.

  13. Mahmood, I qouted your “Bahrain W.L.L” in my post. Hope you don’t mind.

  14. Anonymous says:

    study have been done; but they were paid for by the companies involved and no suprise they praise the effects of the projects.

  15. Johnster says:

    Hi Mahmood, this might just be the sort of story that would catch the international press…especially if it was backed up by Friends of the Earth and similar institutions.

  16. I belive that it is our duty to do something about this.

    Lets start by signing this petition

    http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/aljarim

  17. ukhti ninja says:

    Who can buy these coral reefs ? If its open to all people of expat and locals why dont we all chip in and save it before its destroyed. SubhanAllah. this is robbing the ocean of the creations that Allah Swt created. la howla wa la quwatta illah billah.

    regards. :ninja:

  18. Migy Mao says:

    This is the sign of typical primitive society. Exploitation for the short term gain. Their is hardly any fish around Bahrain. As a fisherman, our catch is less than 20% what it used to be 6 years ago and these are base don my factual numbers. Let alone so many species that are extinct. The destruction that has been caused to our sea is unimaginable. The drenching of the sea continues 24 hours and 365 days of the year. It is already very late. Shame on your Bahrain and on whom ever idea it was. Please leave something for our kids to see, buildings does not mean civilization, eductaion and awarness does on the other hand. Time to be brave and do something about it. I am scared that they will allocate another $1Bn now for artificial reefs that will be awarded to the blue eyed boys as always to profit from it. So screw it first then fix it!

  19. Ali says:

    So what’s new in that? A couple of weeks ago I visited Fasht Aljarem, and I asked the guards about their boss and they said it’s sh. Khalid (ex. Minister of Housing). And by checking the properties records, he’s indeed the owner of Fasht Aljarem (or at least the three Islands shown in the Google Earth’s photo). So there you go.. A ‘private’ owner can do with his ‘private’ properties whatever he wants to! The bottom line.. The whole of Bahrain is a private entity, so don’t get surprised of such sale deal happens :devil:

  20. moodz says:

    The entire story of selling Fasht AlJarim is officially denied in Today’s Akhbar AlKhaleej. The title deed has been seen by members of the newspaper and confirmed to be still owned by the “Government of Bahrain”.

  21. bahraini4eva says:

    Akhbar AlKhaleej’s editor in chief is Anwar Abdulrahman who, as we all know, sucks up to the royals and gov’t more than the PM’s little ass kissers. So, for the newspaper to deny this news by citing the Minister of Agriculture Mansour Bin Rajab means NOTHING. Let me see some proper documentation and solid evidence that this is indeed (and rightly so) the property of the PEOPLE of Bahrain and not Shaikh this or that!

    VERY Sickening and Saddening is the least one could say (but not surprising at all as all of Bahraini land has been seized by our beloved royals)! Corruption before our eyes during the era of democracy and people’s rights instituded by His Majesty!

  22. mahmood says:

    Al-Waqt is confirming the Akhbar Al-Khaleej news article, which is nothing more than a press release by the Ministry of Municipalities.

  23. Anonymous says:

    And by checking the properties records, he’s indeed the owner of Fasht Aljarem (or at least the three Islands shown in the Google Earth’s photo

    Are you sure Ali ? By property records you mean the land registration records ? How can that be, is Sh Khalid that powerful to be allowed to own Islands in Bahrain like the big 4 Sheiks?

  24. Mahmood, in post no.18 Ive added a link to a petition but seems like your spam blocker is hiding it, may you please fix it.

  25. mahmood says:

    thanks Eyad, done. It wasn’t the spam blocker but the construction of the html as there was nothing between the two tags. fixed now.

  26. moodz says:

    Are you sure Ali ? By property records you mean the land registration records ?

    I believe he was talking about some cabins around the area, land registration and title deeds aren’t public information.

  27. Anon984 says:

    Are you sure Ali ? By property records you mean the land registration records ? How can that be, is Sh Khalid that powerful to be allowed to own Islands in Bahrain like the big 4 Sheiks?

    Valid question. Who can own this island other than the two main shieks?

    I don’t think that AlWasat is that stupid to write about this without being supported by an evidence or someone, someone who is very powerful and pissed off and is willing to leak the information to the public.

    When you can’t face another giant figure, the simple and easy way is to leak some information about the deal to the press, feed the public with anger and enjoy the show.

    A similar scenario has taken place in many occasions in the past and it can repeat itself.

    Alwasat response will make things clearer.

  28. Bahrania says:

    “Owned by the Government of Bahrain”
    Government = ruling family
    This sheikh or that sheikh…this thief or that thief…hatha ilbaab 3la hal ‘7araba as they say

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