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Nancy Papathanasopoulou
It's not the mess but you think it is

Summertime in Kuwait and temperatures are soaring up to the sky along with the hot wind that at times wreaks havoc all over the country. The sand forms twisters and every creature — including us humans — hides in shelters and lairs waiting for the wind to subside and the evening to bring relief from the unforgiving day. Yet there is an element that ensures more comfortable homes for its inhabitants. An element not too hospitable to humans, as it always stays wet and sticky, trapping careless cars and the occasional sandal: mud.

Full of nutrients accumulating through the ages via the Shatt Al-Arab, Kuwaiti muddy areas are like no other. For starters, they form the huge island of Boubiyan, home to hundreds of thousands of insects, birds and marine animals, big and small. Teeming with life, this huge wetland is blessed with millions of inhabitants and fertility continues its processes almost undisturbed by the summer heat. Shallow waters get warm, but the soil never burns. It is infiltrated by water, so it keeps its temperatures lower and friendlier. Here the elements seem to marry, creating a cornucopia of life.

Peeking out of his hole or jumping in territorial displays, the mudskipper builds walls and feeds on little organisms in Sulaibikhat. Hundreds of species of birds enjoy the muddy waters of Jahra Pools reserve, some making their nests there with the certain promise of shelter and food for them and their young. If it hadn’t been for the hunters, these birds would thrive here like at few other places in the region. Impressive flocks of flamingos filter-feed in the sabkha of Doha and Usheirij, and many thousands of waders adorn the muddy tidal flats of Failaka, especially during migration season. Insects buzz happily providing a multitude of services for a healthy environment, little crabs build colonies of sophisticated little homes in the soft grounds and little reptiles, crustaceans, molluscs and worms slither secretly in the beneficial cover of the mixed element, oxygenating the soft soil and providing extra nutrients for other animals with their presence.

And yet most people seem to think that these ecosystems of mud are unpleasant and unhealthy. Lack of awareness fails to bring across the message of life and prosperity the blessed mud of the whole Shatt-al-Arab area brings in its soft texture. Each place, of larger or lesser extent, is bed of sheer and continuous living energy, a little fluid, like the environment in which every creature is conceived and carried until the day of birth. Cycles of life of thousands of creatures begin and often end in there. And as it moves and vibrates the mud is a blessing, as, in its unstable texture, the stability of the continuation of life is ensured.

Eliminating its fertile habitats is sure to eliminate the diversity of life and the great health of natural ecosystems, as hundreds of species lose their homes and the food chain is severely disrupted. Those in the know keep them clean and protected. The heat soars, and all forms of life struggle in the region. We humans seek shelter and chill, wherever we can find it. And as we enjoy its comfort and peace, let us also seek the assurance of sustainable survival of that which seems less becoming, but is in fact more sacred to protect and respect than anything else in nature that meets the eye: The mudflats of Kuwait.

By Nancy Papathanasopoulou
Special to the Arab Times

By: Nancy Papathanasopoulou

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