A wealth of heritage to shape our future
By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
The announcement last week that the Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve being inscribed in the UNESCO list as the first natural heritage site in Saudi Arabia has been met with excitement and a sense of achievement in the Arab world.
It shows the shifting emphasis on natural heritage, of environmental consciousness and the efforts being made by the Arab governments to showcase of the environmental and biological evolution of flora and fauna of their countries.
There is often a misunderstanding that the GCC countries being largely situated in one of the world’s largest arid zones, will have little to offer when it comes to a conversation about natural heritage and the environment.
People tend to have a mental picture of rainforests and lakes and rivers when they speak of environment.
However, our deserts are teeming with precious life - the flora and fauna of Saudi Arabia, for example, reflects the geographical position of the Arabian Peninsula between Africa, Asia and Europe.
There are 2,250 species of flowering plants in Saudi Arabia and 93 mammal species, 432 bird species, 9 freshwater fish species, 103 reptiles and 7 amphibians.
Did you know that Bahrain boasts of 14 species of lizard and 4 types of land snake and the world’s largest breeding grounds for the Socotra Cormorant in Hawar Islands and the world’s largest dugong aggregation in its territorial waters?
Increasingly, the UNESCO listing of Heritage Sites, whether natural or historic, are more than mere touristic markers.
Nations are using them to embed our collective history as the human race into the timeline of humanity – and natural heritage sites are being used to check climate damage and keep our promise to march towards a carbon neutral lifestyle.
In Bahrain we have undertaken the responsibility of working towards capacity building in the Arab world, and ensuring better representation on the World Heritage List.
As home to the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, a UNESCO Category 2 Centre, Bahrain has led the way with sensitive conservation and a deep respect for our national history.
The next chapter will see us writing a new narrative to give the community a vision that will see our past and our future co-exist in harmony as we build a bright present.
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editorin-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism