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A River of Light in the Desert

For the past few decades the mainstream press has been inundating the world with bad news from Israel.  News of violence, conflict, and warfare in this region form a constant assault to our senses and consciousness.

Now, there is a new vision; and one that is much more worthy of media attention.  This is a project, sponsored by The Sustainability Laboratory, that illustrates how the different ethnic groups are working together to build a cooperative community involving the Bedouins of the Negev desert.

Project Wadi Attir[i] is establishing a sustainable, desert farming operation that integrates social, environmental, technological and economic considerations. It is being developed on a 100 acre site about 10 miles Northeast of Beer-Sheva.[ii]The project is designed to leverage Bedouin traditional values, aspirations, know-how and experience with sustainability principles, modern day science and cutting edge technologies. The project showcases a breakthrough model of sustainability practices in an arid environment that is valid and replicable throughout the Middle East as well as in other arid parts of the world. At every stage of planning and implementation, strong emphasis has been placed on community values.

I first wrote about this project in November, 2009.  See the background details at this link:  http://sedonacyberlink.com/?p=773.  I’m writing today to provide an update and a link to a new YouTube video that will update readers on the status of developments (see above video produced by Shai Zauderer).  As you will see, there is real reason to have optimism in this model project.

As reported by Dr. Michael Ben-Eli, “The project continues to generate a high level of interest within and outside the Bedouin community and we have seen an expanding circle of individuals and groups coming to visit the site.”

Here are some of the most recent developments:

  • On July 15, 2010, all the requirements of the statutory approval process were officially completed.
  • A comprehensive two volume planning document that lays out the project’s development process over the first 18 months and describes all its key elements  has been completed. [iii]
  • A Project Design Team that includes a group of researchers from the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), and a number of outside, technical consultants is completing the design of  the project’s integrated technology infrastructure.
  • Economists Dr. Miki Malul and Dr. Mossi Rosenboim of BGU, together with CPA Elhanan Yair, have completed a thorough economic analysis and business plan for the project.
  • Landscape Architect, Sharon Heffer, has finalized detailed plans for the extensive  site preparation work.[iv]
  • Led by Dr. Mohammed Alnabari, efforts have intensified significantly in seeking direct government support for the project. Under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for development of the Negev and the Galilee, Silvan Shalom, a commitment has been obtained for matching funds raised by philanthropy.
  • The Jewish National Fund (JNF) has launched a fund raising effort aimed at covering all the site preparation costs.

Dr. Michael Ben-Eli, the Founder of The Sustainability Laboratory will be on an international speaking tour presenting the details of the Project and seeking financial support for matching the commitment by the Government. At present, he is planning a lecture tour to the American Southwest in the early February, 2011 timeframe.  To schedule a lecture and presentation on the Project, contact SedonaCyberLink at:  (928) 399-0509.  For information about making tax deductible contributions in support of project Wadi Attir, please contact Joshua Arnow at: info@sustainabilitylabs.org.

Among the many presentations Dr. Ben-Eli has given was one for the Global Leadership Fellows of the World Economic Forum, during their recent visit to the region.  This high-level exposure is generating significant interest and warrants more attention from the mainstream media.  Where are the journalists that will tell this story?

Project Wadi Attir is a river of light in the desert.

[i] Project Wadi Attir is a joint initiative of the Hura Municipal Council and The Sustainability Laboratory. Collaborating organizations include Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Jewish National Fund, the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, and other local and international partners.


[ii] The project site is adjacent to Highway 31 which passes to the south of the town of Hura, connecting the Shoket intersection to the west of Hura with the city of Arad and the Dead Sea to the east.  Along its Southeastern flank the project site borders on a deep ravine, known as the Wadi Attir, from which the project derives its name.

[iii] Edited by Inbal Shativi.

[iv] These plans, specify all fencing on the site, earth moving work, roadways, positioning of structures, locations of water capturing basins, protection of the Wadi’s edges, and all planting on the site. Plans have been developed in close collaboration with engineers and senior officials at the Keren Kayemet L’israel (KKL).

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