In Egypt there will be more artificial fun for rich men and women while the poor can’t even trust that their tap water is safe, that their waste will be disposed of safely, or that they will be able to cook their dinner if the power cuts out. While everyone should be able to enjoy a nice dip in the sea, there is folly in tinkering with nature. Especially when we’re talking about the Red Sea, which has already suffered devastating losses to its coral reef as a result of development, tourism, oil spills, and other human activity.
Biochemist with a dream
A biochemist, Chilean Fernando Fischmann had a dream. He wanted to build a resort in Chile, but the water was too cold to attract watersport enthusiasts, so he built the world’s largest “pool.” Called the San Alfonso del Mar’s lagoon, it covers eight hectares, is one-kilometer in length, and contains 250,000 cubic meters of water. It made the Guinness World Records.
Crystal Lagoon’s press materials claim that because these pools/lagoons, which suck out sea water and have a pulse system and low energy filtration system to keep the stagnant water from growing turbid, use 100 times less chemicals than standard pools, they are ecologically friendly.
Perhaps compelled by the success experienced in Chile, Mr. Fischmann’s dream expanded. At Cityscape Global in Dubai, which will take place from October 4 to October 7, he will unveil numerous projects planned for Egypt, including the new largest lagoon in the world planned for Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea coast. Crystal Lagoons intends to build a total of 100 hectares of artificial lagoons in Egypt’s desert.
The dream expands to Egypt
Very little is disclosed about how the technology works or what is pumped back into the sea, nor has the company published any kind of environmental assessment reports on its website.
“The project is the result of our association with Golden Pyramids Plaza, owned by the Sharbatly family. We have also sealed strategic alliances for a number of other tourism developments including the Amer Group’s Soma Bay, in Hurghada, a US$1.2 billion investment that will be operational in 2012,” Fischmann told the real estate channel.
“In all of these projects Crystal Lagoons provides something that until now was neither technically nor economically possible — the construction and low cost maintenance of monumental masses of water in a crystalline state that allows a beach life environment and top level aquatic sports within a city,” explained Fischmann.
According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), “physical alteration and destruction of habitats, by such activities as urbanization, coastal development (for example, dredge and fill operations and coastal mining and quarrying,) are considered the major environmental threat in several countries of the [Middle East] region – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt.”
It has been reported that areas such as Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh have been developed and exploited beyond their ecological and social carrying capacities and are already showing signs of environmental degradation. Evidence of reef degradation due to tourism and other activities is clear even in areas such as the Ras Mohammad National Park in Egypt.
Specifically mentioned are two areas upon which Mr. Fischmann has pinned his sights, both Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. Unfortunately, Egypt has a policy that favors tourism above all else, and has been slow to instill strong environmental laws to protect these places that will eventually collapse under the weight of too much expansion.
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image via TheBugplanet