29 March 2021


Israel has just reopened its borders with the Egyptian Sinai, so many are expected to take advantage of the convenience. Lots of young people fall in love with the peninsula and spend months there. R., who lives here in an old shed in our yard, is a Sinai-lover too. Before the border reopened, he had already purchased an air ticket via Istanbul to Sharm el-Sheikh (this round-about route was already possible). It's been a few years since I was last in the Sinai, but I'm also tempted. The place at which I have twice stayed is Bassata eco-lodge, a lovely beach hamlet north of Nuweiba. Bassata is often criticised for forbidding stay by Israelis (my passport is British). Normally, when I travel, I avoid mixing with Israelis in any case, though I also tend to stay away from Brits and Americans, who seem to exhibit their worst traits abroad. Perhaps when people get away from their home environment they think they can do as they please.

On the other hand, I don't believe in boycotting people. At Bassata, I did not encounter the owners, who are said to be anti-Israeli, but did notice an anti-Israeli bias among the guests. Since it's a place that people mingle, and there are common tables for meals, you cannot keep entirely to yourself there, and, as I'm not a good liar, I revealed my domicile. An Egyptian writer told me it would be best to kill all the Jews, and said she was sure I am Jewish too.

There are more welcoming locations in the Sinai, of course. In Nuweiba there is another eco-lodge, at an organic farm, for example. My wife toured there on one of her visits. If ever there was an area that eco-tourism is important, it would be the Sinai, since ordinary tourism is highly destructive to the natural environment, which is the only reason to go there in the first place.

I was reminded of the Sinai today due to an extraordinary article in The Guardian, which talks about ideas to re-green the entire peninsula, which, in turn, could have enormous effect on the entire region. It is just a few thousand years, in fact, since this vast desert was in fact green. If you look at it on Google Earth, you can easily see the marks of old river beds. And ancient inscriptions bear witness to the fact that it was once much more hospitable. It is thought that human activity created the desertification, and human activity, apparently, could easily restore it. This has been done elsewhere, in China. Among the links below is a YouTube video detailing that.

The Sinai is culturally important for civilization thanks to one rather important contribution: the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet that, evolving from Egyptian hieroglyphs, gave birth to Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and most other alphabetic scripts around the world including according to most scholars, the Brahmi script from which are derived the Indian and various other Asian alphabets.

‘Our biggest challenge? Lack of imagination’: the scientists turning the desert green | Environment | The Guardian
In China, scientists have turned vast swathes of arid land into a lush oasis. Now a team of maverick engineers want to do the same to the Sinai

Green Gold - Documentary by John D. Liu

by Permaculture Day on YouTube

"It's possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems." Environmental film maker John D. Liu documents large-scale ecosystem restoration projects in China, Africa, South America and the Middle East, highlighting the enormous benefits for people and planet of undertaking these efforts globally. Follow John D. Liu's work: Environmental Education Media Project:  http://eempc.org/​ What If We Change restoration media project:  http://www.whatifwechange.org​ Restoring Large Scaled Damaged Ecological Systems:  http://greendeserts.wordpress.com/​ Research, Training and Innovation Centers for Ecological Restoration:  https://www.facebook.com/Innovationce...​ Papers and other documentaries:  https://knaw.academia.edu/JohnDLiu​ More information about permaculture designer Geoff Lawton's Greening the Desert project in Jordan:  http://permaculturenews.org/2007/03/0...​ Join us for PERMACULTURE DAY 2015: IN SUPPORT OF SOIL on SUNDAY 3RD MAY!  http://www.permacultureday.org​. Join us online: Website:  http://www.permacultureday.org​ Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Internationa...​ In Support of Soil Facebook event:  http://bit.ly/IPD2015​ Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/permacultureday​ #SoilSupporter​ #IPD2015​ #IYS2015​ Google+:  https://www.google.com/+PermacultureDay​ Newsletter: http://bit.ly/IPDNewsletter

The Weather Makers – Holistic Engineering
The Weather Makers intent on acting against climate issues by bringing together knowledge, skills and networks (in amongst others hydraulics, morphology, meteorology, ecology, hydrology and economy) to conduct and facilitate projects using holistic engineering and nature based solutions aimed at restoring (parts of) the planet.

The Weather Makers have the objective to create a functional ecosystem at the basis of society. We strive to develop Watershed Wide Ecosystem Regeneration at the broken continental divide regions to restore hydrological cycles. We influence the vegetation to increase fresh water availability through land-atmospheric processes.
Our focus is the Southern Mediterranean Drainage Basin with the Sinai Peninsula as the key location to enable positive feedback loops for the entire region.

Habiba Community | Habiba Village in Nuweiba, Sinai, Egypt