Questions beneath the waves: Captain's Corner
With the expansion of the Kingdom of Bahrain into the sea around it through thoughtful reclamation projects that secures vital land for our urbanization plans and ambitious growth, we have achieved many successes that we are proud of. The glittering Bahrain Financial Harbour, the glamorous Bahrain Bay, the utilitarian Juffair and Seef areas, the beautiful Riffa Views, and now the coastal development projects in Durrat Al Bahrain, Diyar Al Muharraq and Dilmunia all testimony to the meticulous planning and insight vision of our leaders.
I guess, there are one or two ideas that start out as impressive promises on paper but don't go according to the blueprint because of mismanagement. Among these examples is the tragic planning in Amwaj Islands. Let me not mention anything in this article about the Islands because I need more than one extensive article in this regard, as well as the creation of the world's largest underwater eco-tourism park in the world. Although these projects attracted a lot of attention from the start, the pandemic put a halt to tourism traffic and the underwater park was left to languish. Meanwhile, the submerged "wrecked" Boeing aircraft that was planted on the seabed as a special feature has been literally broken down into pieces by what the managers of the park claim were the nets of rogue trawlers vessels.
Just review the situation: When the Dive Bahrain, the eco-Park was announced, the project managers said the site of the project was determined following rigorous field investigations, and a technical team coordinated to find the most appropriate area - an area that is not only deep enough, but also where the seabed has the appropriate conditions to withstand the weight of the plane. Now, it transpires that some fishing trawlers moved in the area and actually used fishing gear, chains and perhaps anchors which were so heavy that they damaged the Boeing plane.
My concern is not the creation of the park - it is a great and novel idea and we should try everything to encourage tourism. However, we need to ask ourselves if such a costly project should have been undertaken with public funding? Why was private investment not sought for such a project? Further, if these chains and other equipment from the trawlers could damage a submerged plane, I am truly worried that the safety features are not properly monitored before planning an eco-park. Tourist divers could well have been hurt and injured by the same trawlers vessels as they explored the sunken plane, isn't it?
MPs must ask many questions about the project and not just limit themselves to the funding and financing. There are many questions lurking beneath the waves.
The writer Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism