23.05.2012 - ODG

The Director-General discusses challenges at the World Heritage sites of Um Er-Rasas and Petra

© UNESCO/Paola Leoncini-Bartoli - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova with Dr. Emad Hijaazen, Commissioner for the Petra Archaeological Park, Princess Dana Firas and Anna Paolini, Head of UNESCO Office in Amman, Jordan May 2012

During her visit at the World Heritage site of Um Er-Rasas, the Director-General underlined the importance of the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim historical legacy all embedded in this unique site, which bears witness to the “memory of civilizations and the history of their relationships engraved in stone”.

The Director-General pursued her visit to the iconic World Heritage site of Petra together with Dr. Emad Hijaazen, Commissioner for the Petra Archaeological Park, following a working meeting with UNESCO partners on the preservation of the site to discuss the challenges of implementing World Heritage Committee’s recommendations with regard to the sustainable development and the long-term preservation of the site, with a view to avoiding it to be placed on the World Heritage List in Danger.  

The Director-General acknowledged the progress achieved in relation to the UNESCO projects implemented thanks to the financial support of the Italian Government and the Annenberg Foundation, in cooperation with the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (Italy) and the Zamani Research Group of the University of Cape Town (South Africa), in collaboration also with the UNESCO Chair for preventive conservation at the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, of the Catholic university of Leuven, Belgium.  

Amongst the urgent needs that were identified by the World Heritage Committee are the preservation of the integrity of the site, the implementation of a comprehensive conservation and management policy and the finalization of the Management Plan, the field mapping of the site’s boundaries and buffer zone, and the capacity building of the Department of Antiquities and the Petra Development Tourism Regional Authority.  

The Director-General also visited the primary school in Umm Sayhoun established in the context of the UNESCO non-formal education program, which forms an integral part of the overall project for the sustainable development of the World Heritage property. The primary school was created by UNESCO in 2001 in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Bedouin community at the Petra World Heritage in order to provide opportunities to illiterate drop-out children of Bedouin communities at the World Heritage site or in the vicinity of the site. The project fosters inclusion, leading the children from literacy to vocational training and providing them with life skills to enhance their self-esteem and develop their capabilities. During a lively interaction, the students emphasized that the main reason to leave school was the need to work in the site to support the family and violence in school by teachers.  

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