Jordan's Petra may be at risk, says UNESCO

Popular tourist attraction at risk of being labelled endangered by heritage agency
An ancient temple cut into the sandstone is lit up by candles in Petra, Jordan (Getty Images).

An ancient temple cut into the sandstone is lit up by candles in Petra, Jordan (Getty Images).

The popular Jordanian tourist destination Petra risks being listed by UNESCO as an endangered heritage attraction if authorities do not keep up with its preservation, it was reported on Thursday at an event to mark the 200th anniversary of the iconic site's rediscovery.

Speaking at the opening of the 'Conserving and Presenting Petra to the World' conference in Jordan on Wednesday, Emad Hijazeen, Petra Archaeological Park (PAP) commissioner, said the site could be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger if certain criteria set out by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) were not carried out.

“It was only in 2010 that we started implementing conservation projects”, Hijazeen was quoted as saying by The Jordan Times.

The iconic site was listed on the World Heritage List in 1985, and was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

Hijazeen said PAP had been concentrating on infrastructure improvements around the site over the last few years and had neglected conservation activities, the report said.

Under UNESCO’s instructions, PAP is required to prepare an action plan by April 2013, draw up excavation research regulations by December 2012 and carry out a conservation report by February 2013.

If these actions are not carried out, the site risks being added to the List of World Heritage in Danger, which currently lists 38 endangered sites, including Yemen’s historic town of Zabid, the US’s Everglades National Park, Palestine’s Church of the Nativity and Egypt’s Abu Mena Christian site in Alexandria.

Petra receives nearly 1m visitors a year and Prince Raad, president of Petra National Trust, stressed the need for work to be carried out to reduce the impact visitors had on the historic attraction.

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