It’s my first CITES conference, first time in Qatar! I’ve learned a lot already about CITES, its processes, the Appendices and species up for discussion, writes Rania Faouri, IUCN West Asia Communications Officer.
After a morning press briefing on marine issues, I interviewed two people from IUCN member organizations in Kuwait and Jordan to find out more about the regional efforts for CITES. One of those I interviewed was Mahdi Katrameez, the only Jordanian delegate to CITES, from the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature. The other was Mahmoud Al Khabbaz, one of the Kuwaiti delegates to CITES, from the Environment Public Authority. They talked about the regional species that fall under CITES Appendix I and II, such as the Nile crocodile, Tunisian bluefin tuna, red corals, Kuwaiti Agarwood and others. They said that this is the first time that such a large number of Arab countries have taken part in the CITES conference, and the first time that the Arab countries have had a regional meeting before CITES to agree on common ground for each decision they vote for.
I am also getting to know the Qatari journalists who came with us on a trip to the Al Shahaniya Arabian Oryx Reserve last Friday, organised in cooperation with the Friends of Environment Center and Qatari Ministry of Environment. There’s been great coverage so far in the Qatari press of the trip, with the story appearing on the front page of Al Raya Newspaper, a full page spread in the Al Watan Newspaper and also the Gulf Times, an English language newspaper, which was the first to cover the trip.
But one of the highlights of the day was interviewing Omar El Sharif!! He was being interviewed by a television crew in the Sheraton hotel lobby as I walked through and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask him if he’d be interviewed about the environment for the IUCN website. He said that the environment is a disaster and that everything is polluted, especially where he lives in Cairo where the population is growing rapidly. He also expressed concern about the Polar bear and melting ice caps. What a great experience it was to interview him!