As Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov pressed a button from his podium at the
open-air Azrieli amphitheater, the top of Tel Aviv’s Crown Plaza City Center
building lit up with a golden “616:45:38” on Sunday night.
There are 616
hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds until the international vote for the New Seven
Wonders of Nature draws to a close.
Meseznikov was partaking in the
official inauguration event of a huge projection countdown clock that will tick
away the remaining days, minutes and seconds until the competition’s end on
Israel is one of the 28 remaining contestants, in what will
be narrowed to a final seven that day, through votes gathered from every corner
of the world on www.new7wonders.com. The Tourism Ministry has invested millions
of shekels in its worldwide campaign to push the Dead Sea forward.
are using something positive to explain the State of Israel,” Meseznikov
explained to a group of journalists seated in the amphitheater, emphasizing that
Israel must be depicted as a “normal state” and “a state that stays
Two years worth of time and money has gone into his ministry’s
efforts to advance the Dead Sea, both in Israel and all over the world, on the
Internet and through other modes of publicity, he added.
minister continued to praise the historical and tourism value of the great salty
body of water, he also acknowledged the importance of the coming days and paid
tribute to the impending release of Gilad Schalit, calling this time “a really
critical week” and concluding his speech with words of hope for his
Before Meseznikov spoke and officially started the counter,
singer Layla Malkos sang an emphatic “Yam Hamelach (Ish Eir)” by Yehuda Ofen and
“It’s the biggest natural spa in the world,” said Channel 10
Foreign News Desk Editor Nadav Eyal, who served as the master of ceremonies for
the evening. “There is no place like it.”
The Tourism Ministry insists
that despite the large investment that went into the entire campaign, it will
definitely pay off in the end.
“The positive exposure of the Dead Sea
throughout the entire contest has reached millions of people all over the world,
and through the Dead Sea in this contest they got the opportunity to see what
Israel is about in a pure, positive context without the conflict,” a spokesman
for Meseznikov told The Jerusalem Post
after the ceremony.
“We do hope
that the Dead Sea will be one of the seven wonders, but we are satisfied with
the results and there are three weeks left.”
From Israel, interested
voters can send an SMS message to 2244 with the words “Dead Sea” in either
English, Hebrew or Arabic, or vote by logging onto www.votedeadsea.com.