By Andy Sambidge
New 7 Wonders Foundation chief tells Abu Dhabi officials that competition is 'wide open'
The competition to find the world's New 7 Wonders is "wide open" and the UAE's Bu Tinah Island is still in the running, organisers have said.
Jean-Paul de la Fuente, director of the New 7 Wonders Foundation, called on people in the UAE to support Bu Tinah before voting stops in November and the winners are announced.
He told officials from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) the competition was still wide open, adding: "It is encouraging to see how the Bu Tinah campaign is spearheading efforts to promote and protect the natural beauty of the UAE and indeed the Arabian Gulf region.
"We encourage all the community, from individuals to organisations to companies, to get behind the campaign and vote for Bu Tinah."
On the official competition website, it said Bu Tinah Island had fallen in the vote rankings in the past week, without giving any further information.
Bu Tinah Island, part of the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve in Al Gharbia, Abu Dhabi, is a vital nesting ground for the endangered hawksbill turtle, with more than 600 born on island this year.
As well as hosting vital populations of dugongs, Bu Tinah is home to unique coral reefs, mangroves, dolphins, ospreys and Socotra cormorants.
Bu Tinah is the only candidate from the Arabian Gulf to have reached the finals of the New 7 Wonders contest and is up against 28 other candidates including Italy's Vesuvius, Table Mountain in Cape town, Switzerland's Matterhorn, the Maldives, Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon in the US.
Dr Jaber Al Jaberi, deputy secretary general of EAD, said in comments published by state news agency WAM: "Bu Tinah Island has earned its place in the final of this competition because of the way that we in this country have chosen to protect it.
"Bu Tinah reminds us that the UAE's natural heritage is unique, and through this competition and campaign people everywhere can help ensure our natural environment continues to be recognised and protected."
The New 7 Wonders of Nature competition was created to celebrate the planet's natural beauty and foster greater appreciation of the earth's fragile environment.
Bu Tinah Island was announced as one of 28 global finalists in the contest in March 2010, shortlisted from a list of 447 natural sites around the world.
From these 28, seven will be declared the New 7 Wonders of Nature on November 11.
Since the launch of the campaign, Bu Tinah voting booths have toured the UAE.
Anyone living in the UAE can vote for Bu Tinah by sending a SMS message to 3888 with the word "Butinah" in the message.
People can also vote for the UAE island via the campaign website www.butinah.ae.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Maldives have already withdrawn from the competition. Be aware of demand for money from the organizers. Check the following link http://minivannews.com/society/maldives-withdraws-from-new7wonders-campaign-after-surprise-us500000-bill-20345