It’s a very rural scene tucked away on the outskirts of Manama, a remnant of the past which, were it historical buildings or an archeological site, its future would most probably be assured. However it is neither so it has been left to the purveyors of coloured pencils, the physical planners to decide it’s future, their answer total obliteration. I am talking about the Manama Greenbelt around Adhari Park.
This is not just any old piece of the greenbelt but the home of the once mighty Adhari pool, once part of the green oasis that gave Bahrain its name. It still survives, still has that fundamental essence that makes it core to the nations identity and is partially responsible for the story behind the name Bahrain “The land of Two Seas”. It is as much part of the history of Ancient Dilmun and of Awal as any line of preserved archaic stones in the dirt.
The area in question is an historic area of old, very old farmland and date plantations some pockets still intensively farmed but largely the area is a shadow of that former natural glory. It was an area that was once all fertile gardens with open free flowing sweet water springs (one of the historic seas) that fed huge irrigation ditches many of which still exist but sadly, now these ditches and the fertile land they nourished, are largely ignored, left to slowly decay through a policy of purposeful abandonment. It is now an area unwanted it seems by many owners and the state alike in its present form. For the planners the area appears to be an aberration, caught in a time warp? However I ask can they justify a scenario where there is no longer a need for rural spaces in urban areas, especially one designated years ago before Sustainable Development became fashionable buzzwords. Where has the vision of 2030 gone? I find it hard to believe this part of the Manama greenbelt has outlived its usefulness, simply because it has become a burden on those responsible, because people cannot see the wood from the trees, cannot live with the colour green on their plans, instead need to use all the others. Are they prettier colours because they represent change to a future that is made from concrete, bricks, tarmac and mortar? The planners obviously don’t have colours that represent quality of life, natural resources, preservation and natural heritage. They certainly have no colour that represents lateral thinking or alternatives. And yes there are alternative but then its acceptance would mean a radical change in the direction of peoples thinking, of changing sustainable development to one representative of sustainable preservation.
This section of Greenbelt is unique; it represents nearly all that is left of Bahrain's undeveloped agricultural land, it is part of the countries natural heritage. Nowhere else now retains such a high density of sweet water ditches that maintain such a blend of palm plantations, vegetable and fruit gardens along with animal husbandry. Besides, indirectly by virtue of the abandoned parcels of still fertile agricultural land, a huge wildlife reserve of bog reed open water and scrub. The whole area could, given goodwill be easily restored, reinvented as a natural park, a resource as worthy as the Hawar Islands for preservation, a natural equivalent to Muharraq and the Bahrain fort. It is a wonderful natural resource, other than desert species all other species of bird mammal and reptile have representative breeding in the area. For migrating bird species it is unbelievable with over two hundred species of bird recorded in its environs. There is nowhere else left in the country that has such a density of wildlife resources. Its loss to future generations would be catastrophic, we have already lost too much, it is simply now irreplaceable.
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added June 4 2010