Nadia Bseiso | Infertile Crescent

Country of origin: Jordan
Project location: Jordan
Program: Arab Documentary Photography Program
Year: 2016

Since the beginning of the 19th century, the Middle East witnessed crucial geopolitical changes that transformed the region for a century to come. It slipped away from the fists of the Ottoman Empire, only to fall in the hands of British-French colonialism. Earning its independence years later, it was reconstructed, mapped, and divided into small statelets which currently form the new, contemporary, Middle East.

Infertile Crescent describes the reality of what was once called the cradle of civilization, once considered "fertile," the crescent is now burning in turmoil. Jordan seems to be the only country that remains relatively stable, receiving refugees from its neighbors. As the Syrian crisis enters its 7th year, Jordan reaches a staggering second place in water scarcity, shedding light on the controversial Red-Dead Sea Conveyance, or the Two Seas Canal, being built between Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. The 180 km pipeline, carrying water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, is set to operate in 2020. The project is said to provide much needed water and save the shrinking Dead Sea. Ecological concerns of disruption in the Dead Sea's natural ecosystem echoes voices of a new era, where a vast regional economic project is openly implemented with Israel.

Infertile Crescent explores the route of the pipeline – along sites of the Dead Sea’s ancient legends, where farmers dance around sinkholes of thistle and oases of potash, and along the valley of peace and a desert yearning to meet the sea. This is an old wives tale, on the construction of a pipeline, where a geologist and a village idiot agree: The next war will be a water war.