A remote island nation is grappling with its status as the most vulnerable Gulf country to the impacts of rising sea levels.
Bahrain, an archipelago of 33 islands in the Persian Gulf, attracts tourists from around the globe despite the tiny nation being one of the smallest in Saudi Arabia.
Visitors are able to trek across the wild golden desert dunes in Sakhir and gaze upon the undisturbed clear night skies or check out the famous F1 racetrack.
For more of a city break, tourists can wander through the country’s capital Manama where both cultural and historical museums await, along with shopping malls, picturesque beaches and waterparks.
However, this idyll is threatened by rising sea levels as the country’s environmental minister issued a desperate warning to those living on the densely populated coastline.
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Environmental minister Mohamed bin Mubarak bin Daina told AFP: “Bahrain is vulnerable.”
For him, “the main threat is a silent threat, which is the sea level rise”.
Bahraini authorities, led by the kingdom’s oil minister and special envoy for climate affairs, are gearing up to expand their coastal beaches and elevate the land in response to the looming threat.
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The majority of its population resides in low-lying coastal areas, situated at a dangerous elevation of less than five meters above sea level.
With glaciers and ice sheets melting worldwide thanks the the effects of global warming, Bahrain, home to nearly 1.5million people, faces the same challenges as many other islands across the globe.
The environmental minister highlighted that sea levels in Bahrain have been steadily increasing at a rate ranging from 1.6 to 3.4 millimetres per year since 1976.
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Sabah Aljenaid, a researcher at the Arabian Gulf University, explained that if sea levels were to rise between 0.5 to 2 metres, it could result in the submersion of 5 to 18 percent of Bahrain’s total land area.
In a more extreme scenario with a five-metre rise, most of the country, including the international airport, could potentially be inundated, as cautioned by authorities.
These alarming scenarios highlight the critical need for measures to mitigate the impacts of rising sea levels on Bahrain’s vulnerable coastal regions.
The environmental minister added: “That’s why one of Bahrain’s top priorities is the sea level rise. Either we make the beaches (wider)… or a rock wall for certain areas, or reclaim lands before the shore.”
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