Many will be delighted with the news that Haifa, together with nearby Acco, has just been appointed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on account of the Bahai presence in both these cities.
This will be great news for Bahais around the world, as well as for the two cities themselves. When Ruth Gledhill of The Times first blogged on the plight of Bahais in Iran, she received more than 300 comments, even more than she's just received for her recent blog on the consecration of female Bishops into the Church of England:
Acco is already famous for its great age and heritage. The mosque I visited there last February must be one of the most peaceful religious buildings in the world. And its shuk also has much to commend it:
But the news is especially good for Haifa. Coming in the wake of this report from Haaretz, which extols Haifa as an up-and-coming tourist haven, this latest international accolade can only do good:
Haifa is more relaxed than many cities in Israel. What else does it have? Apart from a good mix of different religions and ethnic groups, two excellent universities, situated in beautiful surrounds, the only IBM research faculty in the Middle East, azure seas, mountains and wildlife, as well as the Carmel National Park (which some have compared to the best areas of California), its newish train and bus station, located on the sea front, are squeaky clean and user friendly. Plus there's a direct train to and from Ben Gurion airport for next to nothing. In addition, Haifa provides a gateway to the north, including Galilee:
So expect an upturn in interest in this city, whose fate and destiny appears to mirror that of another north-western port - Liverpool - this year's European City of Culture!