New7Wonders of the World (2001-2007) was an initiative started in 2001 to choose Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments. The popularity poll was led by Canadian-Swiss Bernard Weber and organized by the New7Wonders Foundation based in Zurich, Switzerland, with winners announced on July 7, 2007 in Lisbon.
The New7Wonders Foundation is regulated by the Swiss Federal Foundation Authority as all nationwide-active foundations in Switzerland are. The New7Wonders Foundation claimed that more than 100 million votes were cast through the Internet or by telephone. Nothing prevented multiple votes, so the poll was considered "decidedly unscientific". According to John Zogby, founder and current President/CEO of the Utica, New York-based polling organization Zogby International, New7Wonders Foundation drove "the largest poll on record".
The program drew a wide range of official reaction. Some countries touted their finalist and tried to get more votes cast for it, while others downplayed or criticized the contest. After supporting the New7Wonders Foundation at the beginning of the campaign, by providing advice on nominee selection, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) distanced itself from the undertaking in 2007.
The New7Wonders Foundation, established in 2001, relied on private donations and the sale of broadcast rights and received no public funding or taxpayers' money. After the final announcement, New7Wonders said it didn't earn anything from the exercise and barely recovered its investment.
It was the first in a planned series of lists; in 2007 the foundation launched New7Wonders of Nature, which was the subject of voting until Nov. 11, 2011. New7Wonders Cities is the next project.
The Giza Pyramid of Egypt, the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, was granted an honorary site. Egyptian commentators viewed it as competition to the status of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only surviving monument of the original Ancient Wonders. "This is probably a conspiracy against Egypt, its civilization and monuments", wrote editorialist Al-Sayed al-Naggar in a leading state-owned daily. Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosni said the project was "absurd" and described its creator, Weber, as a man "concerned primarily with self-promotion". Nagib Amin, an Egyptian expert on World Heritage Sites, has pointed out that "in addition to the commercial aspect, the vote has no scientific basis."
After the complaints from Egypt, the New7Wonders Foundation designated the Pyramids of Giza - the only remaining of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World - as an Honorary New7Wonders Candidate, and removed them from the voting. However the Great Pyramid of Giza is not featured in their official results.
In Brazil there was a campaign Vote no Cristo (Vote for the Christ) which had the support of private companies, namely telecommunications operators that stopped charging voters to make telephone calls and SMS messages to vote. Additionally, leading corporate sponsors including Banco Bradesco and Rede Globo spent millions of reals in the effort to have the statue voted into the top seven. Newsweek reports the campaign was so pervasive that one morning in June, Rio de Janeiro residents awoke to a beeping text message on their cell phones: "Press 4916 and vote for Christ. It's free!" The same pitch had been popping up all over the city since late January - flashing across an electronic screen every time city-dwellers swiped their transit cards on city buses and echoing on TV infomercials that featured a reality-show celebrity posing next to the city's trademark Christ the Redeemer statue. According to an article in Newsweek, around 10 million Brazilians had voted in the contest by early July. This number is estimated as the New7Wonders Foundation never released such details about the campaign.
An intensive campaign led by the Peruvian Ministry of Commerce and Tourism in Peru had a great impact in the media and consequently Peruvian people voted massively for its national wonder. The announcement of the new World Wonders generated great expectation and the election of Machu Picchu was celebrated nationwide, especially in Cusco's main square and in Lima where President Alan Garcia hosted a ceremony.
The Chilean representative for Easter Island's Moais, Alberto Hotus, said that the organizer Bernard Weber gave him a letter saying that the Moais had finished eighth and were morally one of the New Seven Wonders. Hotus said he was the only participant to receive such an apology.
A campaign to publicize the campaign in India gathered speed and it reached a climax in July 2007 with news channels, radio stations, and many celebrities asking people to vote for the Taj Mahal.
Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan joined the campaign to back Petra, Jordan's national treasure. Despite Jordan only having a population of under 7 million people, it has been claimed that over 14 million votes were made from the country. This number is estimated as the New7Wonders Foundation never released such details about the campaign.
There was a campaign on the news programs to encourage people to vote for Chichen Itza.
The campaign to find the world's most popular natural wonders has been attacked as little more than a moneymaking exercise. Organizers are reported to have requested millions from governments and tourism authorities for licensing and sponsorship fees, and to organize a luxury "world tour" event. Republic of Maldives and Indonesia were two countries that withdrew their backing for the project as a result.
Although N7W describes itself as a not-for-profit organization the company behind it - the New Open World Corporation (NOWC) - is a commercial business. All licensing and sponsorship money is paid to NOWC and correspondence sent to entrants uses the address of a Panama-based law firm.
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