30 Angry Tribal Sheiks at Emergency Conference for Restoration of the Marshes, Al Rasheed Hotel, Baghdad, October 5, 2015Meridel Rubenstein

30 Angry Tribal Sheiks at Emergency Conference for Restoration of the Marshes
Al Rasheed Hotel, Baghdad, October 5, 2015, Meridel Rubenstein


After 5 month of 125 F temperatures and withholding of the water by Isis and Turkey to keep the Euphrates and Tigris rivers flowing, people were angry. The marshes are dried out for a 2nd time.

We were invited October 5th and 6th to make a presentation at the Emergency Conference for Restoration of the Marshes in Baghdad which was organized by our partner Nature Iraq and the Development Center for Energy and Water.

In addition to 30 angry Tribal sheiks from the south, 35 NGOS, 11 internationals, and many government officials attended including representatives from the Prime Ministers Office. One of our team members from Italy, Davide Tocchetto, joined me.

We couldn’t have continued our Tier 1 Project without our appearance and networking there.  What became evident to people at the national level is that we  DO have a solution for the ever increasing local sewage problems whether there is drought or not.

We were provided security by the Prime Ministers Office who also waived our visa and transportation fees, and paid our hotel and meals.  (This is a huge relief as Davide and I need to return to Chibaish Dec. 28-January 10th with what little travel money is left.

Our new advocate in the Prime Ministers Office, Dr. Shubbar, was just recently in Singapore working on oil agreements for Singapore wells in Iraq! He knows the oil companies in Iraq and will act as the conduit to them for fundraising for us. He wants us to come back for a January Energy meeting. We will get visas now through his office so they should be quicker to obtain, one of my bigger concerns.

We also connected again with Azzam Alwash, CEO of Nature Iraq  National Office in Sulimanyah, Kurdistan. His new Program Director, Parisian Sarah Hassan, knew nothing of the Project, and now has already lined up two potential donors in Geneva and is looking for a French Umbrella for administration.

Peer and I have given two Eden in Iraq talks at the Contemporary Islamic Art Symposia and exhibition at the National Library October 9th and 17th.. Now we have excellent materials on the influence of Islamic Design in our work. Now I am adding the syncretic influence of Mesopotamian civilization and design on Islamic design. We just finished a new paper for the Cumulus Water and Environmental Design Conference in Mumbai December3-5th. Neither of us can attend but our paper will be published.

We need another year to get our designs completed, ie after our next trip and proto-types are made.  So we’re feeling cautiously optimistic that the garden may see the light of day in the next several years and that the marshes can return to health with renewed government action as a result of the conference.