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July 9, 2009July 9, 2009  1 comments  Geography

The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, situated at 417 meters below sea level, is one of the finalists in the new competition of the seven great wonders of the world.  In a show or cooperation and support, the Tourism Ministries of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority individually signed the official supporting papers for candidacy of the Dead Sea.


The Dead Sea is also known as the Sea of Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities which were destroyed in Gen 19:1-29. There is nothing in the lake that breathes life, no fish or animal or any moving waters.

 

In 2007, the level of the Dead Sea was minus 421, almost the lowest in the last 2,000 years and each year the lake claims to be shrinking by 3 feet. More than 90 percent of the water from the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers that once fed the Dead Sea is now diverted to meet agreicutlural, industrial and tourist demands. the sea has no exit and water is lost due to evaporation.

 

The New 7 Wonders of Nature competition was launched in 2007 with about 440 sites from 220 countries (more than those competing in the Olympics). The Megillot Dead Sea Regional Council proposed the candidacy of the Dead Sea for the competition in order to promote tourism to the region and raise public awareness around the world of the problems facing the sea, which has lost about one meter in height every year for the past 30 years, mainly from the effects of restricting the flow of the River Jordan at the Degania Dam.


Other contenders for the title of New 7 Wonder of Nature include the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, the Galapagos Islands, Niagara Falls, Kilimanjaro Mountains, the Black Forest, the Maldives Islands and many more in seven different categories.

 

 


April 8, 2010April 8, 2010  1 comments  Geography

The lowest point on Earth is also the site of one of the world's greatest treasures and an amazing place to visit when you are in the Holy Land. However, even more than that, it's also set to (potentially) become one of the seven new wonders of the natural world. What is it you ask? Why the Dead Sea of course.

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is one of the most unique places in the world. In essence, it is a heavy salt sea where you don't go swimming, but instead, you simply go and float in the water. Even if you don't know how to keep yourself aloft, you'll be able to do so in the Dead Sea because of the unique properties of the water. The water is heavily concentrated with salt, so much that when you go into the water you would actually float on a river of salt.

For obvious reasons however, you should be sure to protect your eyes. In fact, the properties of the Dead Sea are related to a Jewish tradition which illustrates how people felt about the Dead Sea thousands of years ago at the time of Jesus and before. Some Orthodox Jews practice an ancient tradition to wash their hands after a meal; the tradition is called "Mayim Achronim," literally, the "after waters." The primary reason for the tradition was because most of the salt in Israel came from the Dead Sea and since it was so strong, if you got some in your eyes, it could cause damage to the cornea.

Now what about this business of it being a new wonder of the world? Well the New 7 Wonders organization is holding a competition online to decide what the world's most unique seven natural wonders will be. The Dead Sea is one of the finalists and is actually a fairly unique entry, even in a competition dedicated to unique things.

The reason why it's considered so unique (besides the obvious) is that it is an entry directly born of the peace process between Israel and her Arab neighbors. The New 7 Wonders competition requires national governments to put forward applications for places located within their borders. In the case of the Dead Sea, it has three distinct borders. The first of course is right here in Israel. The second one is in Jordan and the third is in the Palestinian Authority. The two countries of Israel and Jordan and the country-in-waiting (for lack of a better term) of Palestine all had to work together to make the entry a reality, making the Dead Sea a true symbol of peace in the Holy Land.

So next time you visit Israel, drop by and take a float in the Dead Sea. And while you're at it, visit the New 7 Wonders competition and vote for peace and Israel:

http://www.new7wonders.com/community/en/new7wonders/new7wonders_of_nature/dead_sea


May 31, 2010May 31, 2010  0 comments  Geography

Cast your vote for the Dead Sea as one of the World's Seven Wonders!

 

Have you ever floated in the Dead Sea or emerged from the salty waters with baby soft skin only to think what a wonder it was? That very same body of water is up for a vote now to become one of the world's new seven wonders in an international campaign.

 

 

"The Dead Sea is one of Israel's natural and tourism treasures that offers an experience rich in history, archaeology and wellness to its many fans around the world who have been casting their votes since the campaign began," said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov,

 

Visitors to Israel have long known that the Dead Sea has much to offer besides a proverbial view of Lot's wife who turned to view the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra and turned into a pillar of salt. The sea, with a high salt content of 30 percent that enables swimmers to float effortlessly, is also rich in minerals that are therapeutic for bones, muscles and skin. In fact, some people stay at the Dead Sea resorts for a week of therapy for various conditions.

 

 

The Dead Sea, considered the lowest place on earth at 1,385 feet below sea level, is pitted against 28 finalists in the New7Wonders campaign. Other contenders include the Amazon River, the Galapagos Islands, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives. The campaign ends on 11.11.11. The winning seven will need an estimated 300 to 400 million votes.

 

 

You may cast your vote for the Dead Sea online at this link (http://www.new7wonders.com/community/en/new7wonders/new7wonders_of_nature/voting). If you have an in Israeli cell phone, you may vote for the Dead Sea by sending a text message in English, Hebrew or Arabic with the words Dead Seato the number 2244.

 

A direct link to the Dead Sea's Seven Wonders page is here (www.new7wonders.com/deadsea ). You may view and upload photos, videos and slogans to support the campaign for the Dead Sea to be chosen as one of the Official New7Wonders of Nature. Visitors can also start and participate in chat forums, building online communities around the campaign to get the Dead Sea elected as one of the Official New7Wonders of Nature.

 


November 2, 2011November 2, 2011  3 comments  Geography

At sunrise, on a mid-September day, more than 1,200 Israelis arrived at the Dead Sea, stripped naked and floated in unison in the salty lake while the Jewish American photographer Spencer Tunick shot photos for his upcoming installation entitled "Naked Sea."

 

The project is intended to draw attention to the environmental plight of the receding Dead Sea and to encourage people to vote for it in the New Seven Wonders of the World competition.

 

Israel's Ministry of Tourism may not be on the list of supporters found on the exhibit's website, but the fact that the ministry invested in a press release on the subject certainly smacks of cooperation.

 

"Artist Spencer Tunick has today revealed the breathtaking first image from his historic artwork at the Dead Sea to support the global campaign to promote voting for the Dead Sea as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature (campaign ends 11.11.11.)," read the Israel Ministry of Tourism's release dated October 25.

 

The Tourism Ministry, a government body, imprudently uses flattering words like "breathtaking" and "historic" to describe a photo which is neither as it features naked bodies crudely and irrelevantly obscuring a natural landmark vying for "natural wonder" status.

 

The entire episode begs the question: Was this publicity stunt appropriate?

 

For a country that is overwhelmingly dependent on faith-based travelers - approximately two thirds of Israel's tourists are Christian - I certainly don't think so.

 

Israel is the cradle of faith to more than 1.5 billion Christians worldwide. The overwhelming majority of people come here for a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to follow the footsteps of Jesus, from his birthplace, Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Territories, to the Galilee in northern Israel where he spent most of his ministry years teaching his disciples and performing miracles, and, of course, to Jerusalem, where he spent the last days of his life, was crucified and, ultimately, rose from the dead.

 

Many itineraries also include the Dead Sea not just for its unique natural assets, but because of its connection to such important biblical and historic sites such as Qumran, Sodom, Ein Gedi and Masada.

 

The core of any successful Israeli tourism marketing strategy must be in keeping with our branding and image. If we see the Christian market as an integral part of our tourism strategy (and with 2.4 million out of 3.45 million annual visitors it certainly is) then we better make sure that our marketing and promotion reflects not only our core values, but the values and beliefs of our most important and trusted market segment.

 

Leaders from several Christian organizations told me that using these photos to promote the Dead Sea was very inappropriate. They believe that many Christians, Jews and Moslems would look down on a public display of nudity, consider the photo immodest at best and offensive at worst.

 

In our zeal to be identified as the New Wonder of the World are we also becoming the new Sodom and Gomorrah?

 

The religious and artistic freedom that Israel enjoys is a testament to the successful democracy that we have built and it is something to be proud of. However, in a country whose tourism product is directly related to the Bible and faith, we have a plethora of ways - other than nudity - to draw attention to an important tourist attraction. While artistic trends come and go, biblical attractions have and will endure for millennia.

 

Promoting this kind of photo op demonstrates our thirst for recognition at all costs as well as our lack of sensitivity. It is shortsighted, alienates our core audience and undermines the trust we've built with our tourists. Rather than positioning Israel as unique, vibrant and spiritual, it places us in compromising position, so to speak, as a base, immoral society.

 

Our own government, via Israel's Ministry of Tourism, has promoted Mr. Tunick's "Naked Sea" website and his recently released photo. Last week, Israel's Ministry of Tourism released the first photo in a press release entitled "First Picture from Spencer Tunick's Exhibition Revealed," along with several paragraphs describing the photo, his website (which happens to promote a link to the Ministry of Tourism voting page) and the site's candidacy. Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, has asked residents to vote stating, "winning will make the Israeli tourism product unique and will encourage investment in the Dead Sea and the surrounding area...while improving Israel's image abroad."

 

Israel is world renowned as the "start-up nation." We possess an energy and creativity that is unique to the world. Our tourism marketing tactics need not offend another vital and huge segment of our tourism constituency in order to attract other essential segments. Certainly we could have thought of many other ways to bring in votes for the Dead Sea that would have been just as unique and much less offensive than Tunick's photo.

 

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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Israel-based Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

 

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December 9, 2013December 9, 2013  0 comments  Geography

It finally looks as though the Dead Sea may spring back to life. Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories signed a historic agreement today in Washington D.C. to lay a water pipeline from the Red Sea north 180 kilometers to the Dead Sea. The additional 100 million cubic meters of water that will flow northward as a result are expected to slow the drying up of the Dead Sea as well as the related negative effects.

 

Approximately 200 million cubic meters of water will be drawn per annum. Around 80 million cubic meters will be desalinated at a facility to be built in Aqaba facility with Israel receiving 30-50 million cubic meters of water for the Arava region and Eilat, and with Jordan receiving 30 million cubic meters of water for use in the south. Israel will also sell Jordan another 50 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret for use in the north.


Silvan Shalom, Israel's Minister of Regional Cooperation said, "This is a historic agreement that realizes a dream of many years and the dream of Herzl. The agreement is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance." He added, "I am pleased that an investment of years has reached its hoped-for conclusion and will benefit Israel and the residents of the region as a whole. The other goals of this project are the generation of electricity by utilizing the difference in elevation between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and the development of tourism infrastructures.

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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

 

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