This is the place I get my salt from

Did you know that there are two dead seas in the Middle East? The photograph below was taken on the shores of Lake Sawa which is about 25 kilometres north of Samawah the capital of Al Muthanna Governorate.

If you look at the photo you can see that the shore is ringed with a crust of salt from evaporation. It’s a dead lake because evaporation makes the water so salty that fish can’t live in it. There is a local industry of salt collection and this is where my mother bought our salt from when I was a child. (I buy the salt my wife uses in our kitchen from the same family my mother did.).

I remember my parents took us here a few times for holidays. And I remember learning in school that there is no clear source for the water in the lake. It does not seem to be linked to any river and it is not some surviving part of a sea from before recorded history. In those geography lessons the teacher told us that this lake is very unusual because all the water is above ground level. The water is so salty that if the banks of the lake get broken in some place the flow of water and fast evaporation means that the banks repair themselves.

But what I remember best about this lake is my mother telling us to watch the birds very carefully and we would see a very strange thing. I remember watching them and seeing the birds land and they did not sink! They birds were walking on the surface of the lake as if it was ground! I remember mother laughing, I suppose at the expression on our faces. And telling us the story about Prophet Jesus the son of Mary (PBUH) walking on the water in Galilee and how the people in Palestine were oppressed by invaders from the west then, and how they are oppressed by invaders from the West now.

Mohammed Ibn Laith.

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