CULTURAL HERITAGE

 

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is responsible for Tourism Development and Planning in Jordan. The Ministry operates with two main arms, The Tourism Directorate under the Secretary General of Tourism and The General Department of Antiquities (DOA), headed by its Director of Antiquities. By law number 21 of 1988 the Department is responsible for the management and protection of archaeological sites, and the upkeep of several museums in various large cities. The Tourism Directorate is responsible for the planning for and development of the Tourism Sector. However another Law (Number 20 of 1998) has introduced the idea of management of tourist’s sites. This may include archaeological sites if considered as touristic sites. In addition, The Tourism Promotion Board (JTB) is an independent institution, responsible for the promotion of tourism in Jordan. It has a Board under the chairmanship of the Minister of MOTA with members from the private sector and the Director General of JTB, who runs foreign promotion activities independently from the Ministry. To enhance the promotional activities of the board some 12 offices have been established in International locations such as New York and Dubai. This can be very effectively exploited in the promotion and marketing of Umayyad sites in Jordan and the Mediterranean region at large.
As an exception, tourism and cultural resource management in Petra has been de-centralized by creating the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA), which by law number 15 of 2009 has been charged with the total development of a large region around the Petra Archaeological Park (PAP), which is managed by a commissioner of PDTRA. PAP is responsible for management of the site and its tourism activities. In addition PDTRA is charged with the full cooperation with The DOA in Amman in its efforts to protect the monuments of the World Heritage Site, since Petra was inscribed on the World heritage List in 1984.

Another exception to the norm was the creation of The Jordan Museum an independent institution, whose Board of Trustees is chaired by Queen Rania Al Abdullah with Princess Sumayya Bint El Hassan as co-Chair. The Minister of Tourism and the Director of DOA are members of the Board with other representatives from the private sector.
Several types of tourism are known in Jordan. They include cultural, religious, health, leisure and eco-tourism. The most important of these is probably cultural tourism, due to the large number of archaeological and historic sites (including ones of religious significance). Religious tourism follows especially after the Vatican and other Christian denominations recognized five pilgrimage sites to the east of the River Jordan. The most important of these is the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ. There are also several Muslim sites that are generally not well publicized. Many of the Prophet’s companions and famous Arab commanders and officers are buried in Jordan. Due to the versatile and scenic natural settings of desert, mountains and waterfalls and wadis, eco-tourism attracts the adventurous young for trekking and canyoning. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) promotes nature’s appreciation through several natural reserves, with simple and comfortable lodges. Wadi Rum, Wadi Mujib and Dana provide exceptionally beautiful natural experiences.
Despite considerable efforts on the part of the DoA to maintain archaeological sites in good condition, only few Umayyad sites have received the full attention they deserve. Restoration, tourism rehabilitation and conservation efforts have focused mostly on the Citadel, Amra, Harraneh (or Kharanah), al-Hallabat and Hammam as-Sarah. Amra is on the World Heritage List and thus a full management plan was recently created for it.

CulTech has also prepared a synthetic cultural report on the Umayyad sites in Jordan. The Ummayads had a close affiliation with the Badiya (semi-arid regions) of Jordan. For one thing they needed to observe and patrol the area between Syria and Al-Hijaz to protect the Hajj route and safeguard it against any hostile elements from the South. Resting places for pilgrims were also needed. At the same time they looked for the Badiya as an important economic resource and a leisure area for hunting and resting. Not only did they did build their own palaces and castles but also benefited from already existing Roman-Byzantine sites that were used for defensive purposes at the borders of the empire. It is thus no wonder that Jordan has the largest number of Umayyad sites or reused by them in the world.
During the meetings of the LSG an analysis of the tourism and cultural heritage of the Umayyad sites was conducted (Table 4a,b). This was prepared in tabular form to indicate the state of conservation of various sites as well as the availability of tourism services and infrastructure. The minutes of the LSG meetings are annexed as Annex 2. Excel sheets that show the results of the analysis were also created. Since the promotion of early Islamic sites as religious sites to the Islamic world could be promising, the LSG conducted the same type of analysis for these sites. Many pilgrims from far Eastern countries such as Afghanistan used to pass by bus through Jordan on their way to the Hajj. This could become an opportunity for them to visit these sites on their way back home. Unfortunately land travel is currently discouraged by the current crisis in Iraq and Syria. However it might still be possible to promote special tours to Umayyad and early Islamic sites to the Islamic World especially for those who travel to Jerusalem for pilgrimage through Amman. Tourists from other parts of the world could be interested in the historical and cultural value of these sites as well. In either case such visits can be combined with visits to the more important sites such as Petra and Jerash.

 

Umayyad Sites in Jordan

 

 

Umayyad Houses in Jordan