Lebanon's Jeita Grotto, UAE's Bu Tinah Shoals among finalis
Arab countries among 'New 7 Wonder' finalists
Thursday, July 23, 2009 08:37:05 PM,
Courtney C. Radsch
Dead Sea in
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The Dead Sea,
Lebanon’s Jeita Grotto and the United Arab Emirates’ Bu Tinah Shoals
were among 28 world-famous natural landmarks named as finalists
Tuesday in a global poll to pick seven new Wonders of Nature.
The finalists were selected from among more than 440 participants
vying for a spot among the seven wonders, which will be chosen in
2011 based on internet and phone polls.
“This is an
extraordinary achievement and the eyes of the planet will be upon Bu
Tinah Shoals and the Emirates for the next two years,” said Bernard
Weber, founder and president of New7Wonders.
The Dead Sea’s chance of being in the finalists was in doubt after
the Palestinian Authority refused to form the required Official
Supporting Committee in protest over the participation of an Israeli
Settler Council in Israel’s official committee. The contest rules
state that each country in which a landmark is located must form a
“There was a
little bit of a race to get all three countries in the region to get
together but the power of nature got everyone to get together,” Tia
B. Viering, head of communications for New7Wonders, told Al Arabiya.
The Amazon rain forest, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the United
States’ Grand Canyon and Indonesia’s Komodo park were among the
other finalists announced Tuesday by the organization led by the
Swiss adventurer Weber.
“It’s an honor to
be nominated,” Liane Carrastoso, the Jordanian Tourism Board’s
communication officer, told Al Arabiya.
“Right now we’re just crossing our fingers and just hoping it
becomes one of the natural wonders of the world because being
recognized like that will bring tourism to Jordan,” she said.
Petra, an ancient Nabatean city cut into the rocks of a mountain
basin in Western Jordan, was chosen as one of the new seven wonders
of the world in 2007. It has experienced a 300 percent growth in
tourism since it was first announced as a finalist in that contest,
said Carrastoso, adding that she hoped the Dead Sea would enjoy
In 2007, the
kingdom’s nations airline, Royal Jordanian, registered the highest
monthly total of passengers in its 44 year history.
“It opens a whole new realm of tourism,” she explained, since the
Dead Sea is more of an attraction for the “spa-going person” rather
than the archeological tourist.
Grotto in Lebanon, whose capital Beirut topped the New York Times’
list of top vacation spots earlier this year, comprises two
limestone caves bejeweled with some of the world’s largest
stalactites and stalagmites hanging over an underground river
"This is a moment every Lebanese should be proud of," Nabil Haddad,
who heads Jeita's national support committee, said. "The Jeita
Grotto is a medal of honor for Lebanon and has placed Lebanon on the
global tourism map again."
The New Seven Wonders of the World contest drew 100 million votes to
choose seven new man-made wonders to replace the largely destroyed
ones from antiquity.
“We’re well on track to having one billion votes in this campaign,”
Viering told Al Arabiya.
A panel of experts chose the finalists from the 77 nominees that
gained the most votes in an early round of polling, said Viering.
People can vote for the final seven by internet or phone, with the
winners to be announced in 2011.