Water is beautiful. It guards our land, it helps us tan, it nourishes us and it tastes great. Sadly, water statistics makes me cringe, and there are plenty of them. The GCC region is one of the most water deprived regions in the world. Somalia’s recent drought, which has been described as the “worst in Africa’s history” has grabbed headlines in recent weeks, but what about our GCC’s own water and marine life crisis?
I am advocate for raising awareness about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an artificial island (not for tourism purposes) twice the size of Texas made from plastic debris and other pollutants that simply floats in the Pacific Ocean. As such, I was extremely excited to visit The Pearl, Doha’s own artificial island.
The views, the aroma and the feelings were all breathtakingly beautiful. However, I couldn’t help but feel guilty during my visit. Thinking of all the natural coral and marine life that had to migrate in order to make room for artificial islands. Within the Gulf, marine life has already suffered since the Desert Storm of 1991, where thousands Kuwaiti barrels of oil were leaked into the ocean. Mangrove coastal areas and sea grass habitats have since been depleted by over 35%.
The GCC relies heavily on liquid electricity to obtain drinking water through desalination. Despite the energy intensive nature of this process, tap water is still not safe to drink. Many Qataris rely on bottled drinking water, even for cooking. This only adds to our plastic addiction which the Qatari Government is combating through aiming to recycle 38% of its waste by 2016.
By Yara Al-Wazir, photo by Laura Owsianka.