May 24, 2022
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(CNN) — On the shoreline of the Dead Sea, Jordanian comic and nationwide treasure Nabil Sawalha strides chest-deep into the water, with all the confidence of a swan to a lake.

“It loves you, the water right here, it hugs you,” he says as he permits the sea to accumulate his legs and buoy his whole physique to the floor.

“It’s very unhappy.” Jordanian comic Nabil Sawalha laments the Dead Sea’s decline.

The playwright, director and actor has taken the day to journey from his residence in Amman down to the lowest level on the planet’s floor to expertise the mineral-rich waters nestled between Jordan and Israel.

“Nowhere in the world are you able to simply sit on the water and really feel relaxed and really feel glad,” Sawalha says whereas having fun with his dip.

The Dead Sea is one among the saltiest our bodies of water on the planet, with round 34% salinity. Its title in Hebrew interprets as the Salt Sea.

However the Dead Sea is dying, its waters vanishing at an alarming charge. With every passing 12 months, the chance of having fun with a go to to its shores retains receding.

In accordance to environmental group EcoPeace Middle East, the water stage drops about one meter per 12 months.

“It’s unhappy, very unhappy,” Sawalha says, lamenting how considerably the water stage has dropped in the previous 15 years.

A view of the present shoreline of the Dead Sea reveals the place water ranges have dropped over the years.

The Dead Sea is fed from pure sources, primarily the Jordan River and its basin, however a few of these it depends on have been both dammed or diverted.

In the meantime Dead Sea minerals, extremely prized for his or her therapeutic properties, are being extracted, additional contributing to the sea’s shrinking.

Jordan woos vacationer movement after arrivals ebb

Jordan’s customer numbers have fallen sharply lately.

AHMAD ABDO/AFP/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

Not not like the Dead Sea, Jordan’s vacationer numbers had been drying up in the final decade earlier than virtually evaporating throughout the Covid pandemic.

In 2020, tourism revenues fell to $1.4 billion, a fall of 76% on the earlier 12 months, in accordance to the UN World Tourism Group.

The sudden plunge was a serious blow to Jordan, which had been attempting to reverse a hunch which, in accordance to the World Bank, noticed vacationer numbers drop from 8 million in 2010 to 4.24 million in 2016.
In its newest effort to win back guests, Jordan’s Tourism Board has launched a brand new marketing campaign, branding itself the “Kingdom of Time.”

Nayef Al-Fayez, Jordan’s tourism minister, says his nation is on the trip comeback path.

Lloyd Sturdy/WTM

The nation’s tourism minister, Nayef Al-Fayez, used the latest World Journey Market commerce occasion in London to trumpet Jordan’s push for extra guests.

“Jordan is back, prepared to unveil its new tourism model, as an genuine reflection of a vacation spot which, inside a land that may be traversed by automobile in lower than a day, fuses collectively a dizzying collage of geological and pure variety, historic richness, a convention of spirituality and religion, and a recent Arabian tradition of openness and heat hospitality that welcomes everybody for leisure, enterprise and therapeutic,” he told industry representatives.

Landscapes worthy of the huge display

Jordan’s otherworldly Wadi Rum desert has been the backdrop for a number of big-budget Hollywood movies.


There is no such thing as a doubt that Jordan’s epic landscapes and archaeological websites are a serious vacationer attraction. Actually, they’re used commonly by filmmakers from Amman to Hollywood as otherworldly backdrops.

Most lately, sandy sci-fi blockbuster “Dune” was filmed in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert. Movies similar to the live-action adaptation of Disney’s “Aladdin” and “Star Wars: Rogue One” had been additionally shot on location in the desert plains in the nation’s south.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, half-brother to King Abdullah II, is the chairman of Jordan’s Royal Movie Fee. Amongst many capabilities, it’s chargeable for attracting big-name studios to Jordan — in addition to fostering native expertise and expertise.

Richard Quest sits by a campfire with Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan in his nation’s Wadi Rum desert.


“It’s vital that we’re growing our personal movie business and it brings actual advantages to folks. It’s not about getting assist or cash into authorities. It’s about the individuals who work on the floor, the native communities all profit from this glorious business,” Ali says.

“It’s a lovely place. Individuals need to see, they need to visualize, they need to perceive what’s happening.”

Rediscovering Jordan’s misplaced metropolis

Professor Sami Alhasanat, a proud Petraen, is our information by way of this red-rose Jordanian metropolis “half as outdated as time”.

About two hour’s drive from Wadi Rum is arguably Jordan’s most iconic vacationer attraction: the historic metropolis of Petra.

The Nabataean civilization carved the metropolis out of rock to create their capital over roughly 500 years from the fourth century BCE onward. Nomadic tribes turned merchants, they settled in the space to management commerce routes, supply safety, and accumulate taxes and tolls.

As we speak, there’s just one means into the archaeological surprise — by way of the winding rock canyon often known as the Siq. The Nabataeans used the elevation of the canyon to create aqueducts to channel water down to the metropolis under.

The journey by way of the Siq takes about 40 minutes by foot. At the finish of it, the slender canyon opens into a large clearing — revealing Petra’s most well-known facade, The Treasury, a towering construction carved into the cliff aspect. The wonderment of it hits you want a slap in the face.

Petra’s historic Treasury established it as the capital metropolis of the Nabataeans.

MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

Proud Petrean and professor at the Al-Hussein Bin Talal College, Sami Alhasanat insists this was no mistake.

“Location, location, location — that is what it was meant to be,” he says. “To be very spectacular. It’s to provide you with the first impression of ‘That is who we’re.’ Excellent by the principal entrance, whenever you first encounter the Treasury, you get this impression that it is a nice civilization.”

Regardless of rising up in Petra and dedicating his profession to sharing its significance with others, Alhasanat says the UNESCO World Heritage web site nonetheless astounds him.

Professor Sami Al Hasanat from the Al-Hussein Bin Talal College is a proud Petraen who has devoted his profession to sharing his childhood “playground” with the world.

Alasdair Skene

“It’s nonetheless spectacular for me. Day-after-day I see otherwise. To me it looks like concentrating on an image. The extra you focus, the extra you see, the extra you’ll uncover it is a treasure. This place connects trendy days with the previous and future,” he says.

Petra was forgotten by the outdoors world for 1,000 years till Europeans got here digging in 1812 and unearthed its magnificent buildings.

Whereas the trade-savvy Nabataeans are not any extra, their descendants are nonetheless ready to welcome guests to Petra.

Bedouin tour guides work inside Petra.

Leroy Ah Ben

Bedouin guides vie for the enterprise of tourists as they spill out from the Siq. They provide donkeys and camel rides, private excursions and photographer providers for these wanting to seize the second for social media.

Principally wearing darkly coloured Western garments, however nonetheless capped with conventional Jordanian shemagh or keffiyeh scarves, the Bedouins of Petra are unmistakable. However it’s one thing they put on on their face that’s one way or the other the most noticeable.

Petra’s Bedouin say they put on kohl, a sort of eyeliner, to defend their eyes from the harsh solar and sand.

Leroy Ah Ben

It’s darkish eyeliner or Arabic kohl — a means the Bedouins defend their eyes from the solar, the mud and the sand. “That is our sun shades,” one information remarks. “I put it on you?” he affords.

Altogether it offers them a glance straight out of “Pirates of the Caribbean” — though they insist they had been first. “No, not Jack Sparrow. He take our type, my buddy!” one other laughs.

That Bedouin appeal takes Petra from being a chilly historic wreck to a residing, respiratory metropolis. And that heat, good spirit and hospitality that thrives on this land as outdated as time is precisely what Jordan believes will name folks to discover as soon as once more.

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