Intangible Cultural Heritage can be understood as the living heritage of humanity, representing “the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage”. This includes traditions and living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. The intangible cultural heritage provides communities with a sense of identity and continuity, which promotes respect for cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.
Since the adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2003, the Intangible Cultural heritage is protected by a legal instrument. The main purposes of the 2003 Convention are to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage, to raise awareness about its importance and to encourage international cooperation and assistance in these fields. The Convention focuses on the role of communities and groups in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, which is a living heritage performed by people and mostly communicated through a live experience.
In November 2005, UNESCO’s Director-General proclaimed the Cultural Space of the Bedu in Petra and Wadi Rum a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
In March 2006, Jordan ratified the 2003 Convention and in 2008, the traditions and way of life associated with ‘The Cultural Space of the Bedu in Petra and Wadi Rum’ were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Cultural Space of the Bedu celebrates the uniqueness of the Bedu way of life in these two areas of Jordan.
UNESCO Amman Office is focusing on building capacities in Jordan to strengthen implementation of the 2003 Convention, with particular regard to the identification of intangible cultural heritage and to legislative and administrative safeguarding frameworks. With the support of the European Union, in 2009 UNESCO launched the Mediterranean Living Heritage Project to support the implementation of the 2003 Convention in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. This project aimed to build national capacities for the implementation of the Convention by developing national safeguarding projects and strengthening cooperation at the regional level. In Jordan, the project focused on inventorying the intangible cultural heritage in the Madaba Governorate.