Saturday, July 07, 2007

The new seven wonders

Finally, today we will find out if Petra has been chosen to be one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Jordanians have been inundated with bill boards, print adds, songs, internet and radio advertisements appealing to their nationalism to vote for Petra for the last few months. Will is work? More importantly, does it matter?

We will find out if it works soon enough. The question of whether it will matter is another story. It depends on how much the media will react with the list and how long this new list will be considered credible. I am more inclined to believe that this whole story is a flash in a pan, and will not be in the news for more than three days. Tourism promoters might use it for a longer time, so there might be some benefit in that.

The New Seven Wonders program has been disavowed by the UNESCO, who faults its objectives and methodology. The seemingly democratic vote really is not methodologically sound. Of the millions of people who voted, I would hazard a guess to say that fewer than 100 have actually seen all 21 candidate sites. And even if one has been to all of these sites, what criteria can be used to choose the top seven? How can one compare a 20th century building like the Sidney Opera House with a stone aged site like Stonehenge? How can these be compared with giant statues like Christ the Redeemer or the Statue of Liberty. These comparisons are beyond apples and oranges.

Absent any criteria, we are invited to vote based on nationalistic sentiment. I find that appealing to nationalism to compile a list of sites that are of world wide value somewhat ironic. But this is the reality. How can a country like Jordan, which is the home of about 0.1% of the world's population, compete with China or India?

So, you wanted to vote. There were two ways to do it. You could either have filled out an online form and voted for free, or you could have used SMS phone massages and paid 10 piasters per vote. The free option is more democratic, but you could only vote once. Moreover, you needed to choose seven sites. This presented a problem if you are only interested in one site. Playing game theory, you needed to decide how the other sites affected Petra. So, this means choosing candidates that were obviously going to win anyway, or weak candidates that you think that had no chance of competing. Thus, you needed to try and eliminate the mid tier candidates for this one vote.

Using SMS messages eliminated this hassle by being able to vote for one candidate many times. Companies and institutions were donating the cost of hundreds of thousands of votes. The New Seven Wonders organizers didn’t seem to object to this subverting of the supposed democratic process.

So, at the end of the day, I can tell you who will be the biggest winner of this contest.

Mr. Bernard Weber.

19 Comments:

At 11:32 PM, Anonymous bakkouz said...

I agree with you, The only one who is to benefit from this is Bernard Webber, and I've always said that if the government has spent as much time , energy and money on actually promoting Petra rather than on this event it would have been more useful, after all, lets say Petra wins, what next? what does it really mean? will it mean more tourists or a higher status for Petra/Jordan? i doubt it.

 
At 1:04 AM, Anonymous Ola said...

I hear fireworks outside, I tend to take this as a good sign

 
At 3:23 AM, Blogger Nas said...

oh man, youre such a killjoy! :-D

 
At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Batir said...

Some people will always find something to complain about. Let us just live a moment of happiness.

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger antiZionist said...

First of all ,,before we start congratulate our selves ,we must recognize the original people who built this,and as far as I know,we , Jordanians or Jordan did not build this ,it is after all,the Nabateans ad more accurately the poor Nabateans that built this magnificent City ,so before , we dance and scream, I urge all of to thank the poor people of Nabetea,

 
At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Batir said...

Antizionist...get yourself a good psychoanalyst to get rid of your national depression. Nabateans were one of the richest populations in the near east at their time of civilization. They were the Dubai of the near east. The people who built the fantastic hydrological system were not poor. We are the poor ones who built a country from nothing and the people of Jordan were romacing the stones to build this country and we deserve to dance.

 
At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post Khallaf,
Antizionist: The people of Jordan are an arab successors of almost purely arab nabatean civilization and the Bdoul and maybe Hweetat are anthropologically related to the nabateans. I know, none of them has disturbed our childrens sleep last night. The price of the fireworks wouldve helped alot of the needy Wadi Mousans.

Batir: Would love to be able to digest your logic some day. Your posts show that you are spend an effort on reading and commenting on blogs. Would love to be persuaded that you are not writting for personal interests or the interests of the few. The nabatean were a rich civilisation but i think antizionist meant the actual poor laboureres who cut the stone under the sun who may be slaves at that time.

Fire works from 12.30 till after 3 am is a very vulgar act indeed.

Khallaf would you comment on the end of Waleed Al Masry's campaign?

 
At 3:02 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

Anon, my six years old daughter was not sleeping because I kept her awake to watch and know that we have in Jordan a great city that the workd population chose as a wonder and we should all be pround of it. Although i do agree that the fireworks could have helped the poor in Wadi Mousa.
Oh and yeh I have just cashed in the check I got from the Ministry of tourism for promoting the Petra voting process. I wonder why you are cinvinced that anyone happy for an achievement by Jordan should be looking for personal gains, unless this is the system you work within.

 
At 1:01 AM, Anonymous Alurdunialhurr said...

Oh ya Batir,,do you really think that the rich elites carved petra,I must say your knowledge about the subject is limited....

 
At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Batir said...

I beg you to enlighten my limited knowledge.

 
At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Batir, i am not accusing you of being on the payroll of anybody. I just hoped that your articles represent more of the common jordanians rather than the neo libs (the few) in this country. Also, sheepishly, i become annoyed that even the informed like yourself are joining the chorus of SA77EEJEH. Your 6 year old daughter and my 1 year old enjoyed the TA3 TA3 with a little difference that mine was rudely awaken by the fire work while your wee one was KEPT AWAKE by a very forward looking father to demonstrate a dose of national behaviour and making a song and dance about it, making the likes of Khallaf and i less patriotic. I hope that our little ones grow in a safe, free from radical so called muslims, free from rotten nepotism, free from the sa77eejeh that blind the vision of the MAS77OOJ LAHOM in the goverment.

Khallaf to use your blog in this way. Thanks

 
At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

Anon I agree with you about the hopes, and each ahs a way of raising our children who we adore most.

 
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At 9:58 PM, Blogger mandela said...

Petra is one of the most beautiful places in the world.it was surely necessary to select it as the one of seven wonders.I think now Jordan government will take some serious steps for security of this natural beauty.
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