Shaikha Mai Al-Khalifa has done good by the Bahraini culture and art, there is no one who could deny that, regardless of your stance with respect to the recent Spring of Culture. She is a lady that I have held with very high regard. Therefore I note with hurt and much surprise her seemingly irresponsible attitude toward our Tree of Life, or at least indifference she exhibited when asked about it. As far as she is concerned, the Tree is a none-entity and whether it survives or dies, it is just a tree! It is just part of the local lore and some say – according to her – the tree is only 45 years old!

I expected a lot better than this attitude from Shaikha Mai.

At the very least, take the trouble to ascertain its age and use it to inculcate the feeling of history, culture and national pride. Don’t just dismiss it as you have done.

Some art, Shaikha Mai, could only be done by the hands of nature. And there is no guarantee that left unprotected, will just continue to be there for this and future generations to marvel at.

Oh, I’m sorry, that’s not really of concern.


  1. Capt. Arab

    I believe the tourism ministry should create a nice decent seating area, probably Arabian style around the tree, get smeone to serve Arabic coffee with some dates, and a bit of literature abut the area and reasons of it’s existence. Sort the place out so it does look like a tourist spot, when something is left in he wilderness it’s gets forgotten. If this tree was in another country it would have been cherished and respected. I guess the same goes for Tubli bay (another natural resource gone, Ain Adhari (another one), and of-course lets not forget the Zallaq beach (nasty place to go to). Change begins from the inside.. The government has been busy building a Bahrain image on the outside, leaving the inside with the 80’s structure. Shame on Bahrain… Shame on the Ministry, and Shame of those responsible who know and do jack about it…

  2. Ted

    I was in Bahrain for two years, I loved the people and the country. Although the heat was a little much for me.

    The people were nothing like I expected, I was expecting hostility toward me because I was an American but everyone was friendly and I was friendly back.

    I miss it there at times.
    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom
    and Enduring Freedom casualties
    as confirmed by U.S. Central
    Command: 3998

  3. Jay Jerome


    just to play Devil’s advocate:

    how do you know how old the ‘tree of life’ really is?

    has anyone scientifically verified the age? Or is it described in old books?

  4. Post

    A researcher (Ali Bushihri) has dated it in 1986 with the help of the Smithsonian who aged it at 424 years old (planted in 1583 apparently).

  5. Barry

    I believe a country cannot really claim that it cares about its heritage if the natural world is forgotten to make progress. I really think it says something about a government when they aren’t willing to protect natural heritage.

    I extend that down to cities and towns. A town that cares about itself will have natural beauty. I remember in Mexico seeing all of these small villages, and the only one which felt comfortable to me had torn up their football field to create a beautiful towng arden. When we care about nature, we care about ourselves. Humans cannot live apart from nature, why else do people like cut flowers and potted plants when they live in concrete jungles?

  6. Ted

    When I was there and saw the Tree of Life. I was disappointed at all the trash in the area. I am not sure if it has been cleaned up or not but it was a shame that better care was not taken.
    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom
    and Enduring Freedom casualties
    as confirmed by U.S. Central
    Command: 3999

  7. thogba

    The value of Tree of Life is negligible when comparec to the 3000-year-old man-made water wells that extend in kilometers. These wells were built during the Dilmun civilization and they still exist today.

    Whatr happened was that some members of the ruling family occupied the farms underneath which exist these wells. These irresponsible people burried the weels and built villas upon them.

    This is a great crime. Mrs. Mai Al Khlaifa did nothing about the wells. So I do not expect her to do anything about the tree. She’s part of this occupying family. They have no origin in Bahrain; they still belong to beduin Saudi.

  8. can we talk

    The value of Tree of Life is negligible when comparec to the 3000-year-old man-made water wells

    no its not, it’s not either or, they each have a different value. the tree has a historic environmental value as well as being an icon of Bahrain with touristc value and should preserved.

    Mrs. Mai Al Khlaifa did nothing about the wells.

    she doesnt have to do anything about the wells, but she shouldnt have responded at all since she is obviously ill-informed about the tree.
    as for the part about where people come from, well everybody is from somewhere, what does that have to do with anything? we are all bahraini now and that’s what matters

  9. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Bahrain: Irresponsible Response

  10. M

    “well everybody is from somewhere”

    Worth repeating, and thank you for saying it.

    About the tree, it really doesn’t matter how old it is. Hell, if it’s just a tree, then let’s not bother to plant anymore, because it’s not too important in the big scheme of things. In fact, anyone that wants to carve, wreck or deface any tree, go for it cause it’s not important in the big scheme of things. Anyone want to cut one down, go for it cause it’s just not all that important.

    There shouldn’t even be any discussion about this. The fact that this particular tree is growing in the desert is just icing on the cake let alone any symbolism it stands for. There shouldn’t even be any discussion about protecting this tree unless someone is completely brain dead, and the cultural role models in Bahrain should be the first to speak out and act to protect it. Pretty simple stuff.

  11. Johnster

    Mayb she has a point….

    it is NOT featured in any of the older guidebooks and I even heard a rumour that a commemorative plaque was not put up when someone pointed out that the date they would have to show would be far more recent than people think

  12. Post

    Age is not the issue here, although the Smithsonian does have at least some weight, the issue is that it has become a national symbol and as such should be protected.

    Plus it’s a lot cheaper to protect than rebuilding large swathes of Muharraq. Not that I am against that of course.

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