Bu Tinah Shoals Bid can be Bolstered by Buying ‘Votes’

DUBAI - The chances of a UAE island archipelago winning a ‘seven wonders’ poll can be bolstered if individuals effectively buy an additional vote.

By Martin Croucher

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Published: Mon 27 Jul 2009, 1:42 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 8:01 PM

BuTinah Shoals, off the coast of Abu Dhabi, fought off 440 other competitors from around the world to be listed among eight finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature poll.One final round of voting will determine if Bu Tinah Shoals will be listed as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.

If the verdant island paradise gains international attention by winning the poll, conservationists say it will encourage greater preservation efforts locally.

After making a free vote, die-hard supporters can purchase a certificate for around Dh7, which will count as an additional vote, said Tia Viering, spokeswoman for poll organisers, New7Wonders (N7W).

“Most people want to buy a certificate to show their level of support,” she said. “If they buy a certificate it will count as an extra vote. Each person’s email is logged so they cannot buy more than one certificate.”

Another candidate in the running for the ‘seven wonders’ is the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States, classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, South Rim.—AFPBu Tinah Shoals, off the coast of Abu Dhabi, fought off 440 other competitors from around the world to be listed among eight finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature poll.

Other candidates in the running include the Great Barrier Reef, Angel Falls and the Grand Canyon.

UAE environment officials claim that if Bu Tinah Shoals is listed among the top seven, it will improve local efforts to conserve the area.

“Most people think that the UAE is only deserts and oil,” said Dr Thabit Zahran Al Abdessalaam, director of marine biodiversity management at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and one of the officials behind the Bu Tinah bid.

“This will show a different face of the country to the world. In addition, it will enhance awareness locally and improve conservation efforts.”

Yellow sea-fan corals, acroporas (hard and white corals) and purple anthias fish at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.—AFPHowever, the first poll, New7Wonders of the World, attracted controversy in 2007 when the Egyptian government boycotted it as a “for-profit” initiative. As a result the Pyramids at Giza – the only surviving wonder of the ancient world – was removed from the running of the top seven because of the lack of an Egyptian organising committee. Officials from N7W deny that the company is a for-profit initiative.

With a minimal joining fee, UAE representatives could not find any reason not to back the bid for Bu Tinah Shoals.

“We looked into it at depth and we could not find anything fishy,” said Dr Thabit Zahran Al Abdessalaam.

“Egypt has been the only country to pull out so far. We were assured that it was not a commercial endeavour and every country would be on an equal playing field. We also looked at the organising committee, which includes several respected figures from the scientific community.”

Prof Federico Mayor, former secretary general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) heads the panel of experts for the campaign.

However, UNESCO itself has denied any links to N7W. “There is no comparison between Mr Weber’s mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List,” said a spokeswoman for the organisation. N7W was set up as a private initiative by Swiss businessman Bernard Weber in 1999. Its 2007 campaign was said to have attracted 100 million votes worldwide and one billion votes have been logged so far for the current poll,

Viering denied that the option of effectively “buying” an additional vote made the poll unfair. “If everyone in the world bought a certificate then they would cancel each other out,” she said.

Viering added that all of the money made from the previous poll has been used only to cover expenses.

If a surplus is made at anytime in the future, it will be invested into the preservation of winning sites, she said. The poll has been conceived as an attempt to draw attention to areas of natural beauty which are threatened by the environment.


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