Troubled waters in the Middle East

Troubled waters in the Middle East

Echoes of the past from the Archives

Water is a crucial resources in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. The files reveal Irish involvement with two water schemes in the region, which were like something out of Jules Verne.

The first was a plan which had been first mooted by the early Zionists, to create a canal between the Mediterranean Sea and the low-lying Dead Sea, which would channel the water of the one into Jordan Valley, hopefully to improved irrigation.

But this Israeli scheme dismayed the Kingdom of Jordan, which objected to it.

The proposed canal would also have cut the Gaza Strip in half, severing one of the main territories left to the Palestinian people, who were not to be consulted about the matter, or to benefit from it.

The scheme, under international criticism, was put aside.

In another scheme Irish interest were more deeply involved, so much so that some of the papers in the file, revealing names and other details, have been removed before being made available to the public.

The idea was to fill oil tankers which arrived at Whiddy Island with fresh water which would then be shipped to Saudi Arabia and used for irrigation.


Though heavily promoted, as was the Dead Sea Canal, the Saudi government in this case denied there was any substance in it.

They had no intention of countenancing the import of water, but planned to depend on their own underground resources and on major desalination plants on the Red Sea and Gulf coasts where their major cities were.

There might have been serious environmental hazards at Whiddy with cleansing the tankers, so it was as well this scheme failed too.