Preliminary Design Development for the Protection of the World Heritage Site of Petra against Flooding Hazards

Location: Petra, Jordan

As part of UNESCO Amman priority actions for the preservation of the Petra World Heritage Site against natural hazards, the project aims to identify viable scenarios for the protection of Petra against flash-floods, which have been increasingly impacting the site over the last years.

Since 2009, the UNESCO Amman Office has been supporting the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) and the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in identifying an integrated and sustainable approach to manage natural hazards, thus contributing to ensuring tourist and monument safety.

In July 2019, as part of this integrated framework, UNESCO began the implementation of a project funded by the Heritage Emergency Fund at the World Heritage Centre to support PDTRA in developing preliminary designs for flashflood risk mitigation interventions at the site.

Through the project "Preliminary Design Development for the Protection of the World Heritage Site of Petra against Flooding Hazards" the following objectives have been achieved:

  • Gathering baseline data, primarily from topographic land survey of the flood flow paths and meteorological data related to both the Wadi Musa watershed and the World Heritage Site;
  • Development of an hydrodynamic model of the flood flow affecting the World Heritage site utilizing appropriate methods and design flow (rainfall) events to simulate the flood flow hydrographs related to the site;
  • Identification of a set of potential scenarios to protect the World Heritage Site by reducing flash-flood risk based on technical, archaeological, environmental and operational considerations. Each scenario includes a set of flash-flood risk mitigation interventions and preliminary project designs.
  • Testing those proposed measures utilizing the hydrodynamic model developed.
Cross sections of the wadis surveyed on the field
2D integrated hydrologic-hydraulic model

of the entire watershed developed to calculate the flood at each point of the area

Preliminary archaeological assessment

of the areas and monuments affected by the flood within the watershed.

Potential scenarios

simulated to evaluate the best options to mitigate the flooding related risks.


This activity was supported by the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund. We wish to thank its donors: the Qatar Fund for Development, the Kingdom of Norway, the Government of Canada, ANA Holdings INC., the Principality of Monaco, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Estonia, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Slovak Republic and the Principality of Andorra.