Wadi Rum, one of Jordan's most visited tourist sites, is undergoing a major facelift with a number of initiatives, Project Director Fuad Aghabi said last Monday. Aghabi said the projects are part of Jordan's Second Tourism Development Project (JSTDP) that includes a series of projects carried out by the Ministry of Tourism since 1984.
The Wadi Rum section of the project entails the construction of a $2 million visitors' center, a new tourist entrance, parking lots and a package for the improvement of the infrastructure of the old city, according to Aghabi. The visitors' center includes a nature and archaeological museum, a conference room and tourist facilities.
“The project aims at preserving the site and orienting tourists to the important features of Wadi Rum and the importance of preserving its fragile environment,” said Aghabi, who is also the ministry's assistant to the secretary general. Aghabi added that the project is also part of the Nature Conservation and Tourism Management Plan carried out as part of the JSTDP.
The overall package for Wadi Rum has a price tag of $9 million. The entire package for the JSTDP includes development initiatives for the Petra region, Wadi Rum, Karak and Jerash, as well as an overall up-gradation of the tourism sector.
Aghabi said the ministry has drawn up both a master plan and a management plan for the project. The plans showed that the old city in Wadi Rum needs upgrading of facilities and services such as roads, sidewalks and lighting.
Improving the old city struck a positive chord with tourists. However, they voiced concern that the ancient style of the city might be affected. “I think improving the roads and the bathrooms will be a good thing but I would not want to see Wadi Rum changed into an American-style thing,” said one Canadian tourist who was in Wadi Rum over the weekend.
“We are using environment- friendly materials and [are trying] to blend the [new up-gradations] with the [intrinsic] nature of the city,” said Aghabi. The project is currently being carried out by the Aqaba Region Authority, according to the project director.
Aghabi added that an agreement is to be signed shortly with local contractors to carry out the project, which is expected to complete in 2003. — ( Jordan Times )
By Oula Al Farawati
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)