1.         Petra (Jordan) (C 326)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (i)(iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/326/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1987-1987)
Total amount approved: USD 50,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/326/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

April 1994: UNESCO mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/326/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1994

A UNESCO mission was undertaken to Petra in April 1994. The mission was briefed by the MTA (Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities) on the creation of the Higher Committee for Petra under the authority of the Prime Minister and chaired by the

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities. Its purpose was to develop plans for 'the continuous development of tourism in the area of Petra, including Wadi Musa'. The Committee has created a Technical Committee comprising a group of experts whose task will be to establish the framework for a future Petra Authority on the lines of the Aqaba and the Jordan Valley Development Authorities. This Technical Committee has already proposed a series of resolutions aiming to develop tourism infrastructure within the site. Its recommendations include the widening of the service road to the centre of the site, the creation of a bus service from the restaurant, and the expulsion of the Bdul from Um Sayhun. The Minister informed the mission that no decisions would be taken until the final draft of the Management Plan has been discussed and agreed upon with UNESCO.

Impact of new hotel projects in the vicinity of Petra

Ten new hotels are planned or under construction in the vicinity of Petra which will raise the present capacity to 2,000 beds. This will place a severe strain on the water resources of the area and on the limited capacity of the site itself to receive visitors. It should be emphasized that no prior environmental impact study has been made.

The new Movenpick Hotel, near the entrance to the site, will be over 18 metres high, corresponding to a six-storey building, while the current height limit in the densest zone of Wadi Musa is four storeys, and will be completely out of scale with the present village. A Nabataean pottery kiln discovered during the excavations was destroyed. Although not inside the present limits of the park or visible from the site, the waiving of height restrictions sets a very dangerous precedent. In addition, a vast spoil heap composed of excavated soil from the two basement floors has been dumped on rented land at the entrance to the site, in the path of the wadi. The Ministry should insist on its removal.

Five new hotels are under construction along the Tayibe Road, and two others are planned. This is an extremely sensitive area, not only because of its visibility from the site, but also for the prevention of soil erosion and the risk of pollution of the springs. It was in order to protect the hills overlooking Petra that the 1992 mission recommended that the land to the east be protected and included in the buffer zone. The site of Khirbet Brak, for which soil tests and feasibility studies for a vast hotel are underway, contains a spring and Nabataean and Roman remains, including the ruins of an imposing temple. Also, it will be possible to enter the archaeological and natural sites of Petra National Park directly from the gardens of the hotel.

The hotel projects discussed above are outside the Park boundary defined by the Ministry and therefore outside its direct jurisdiction, but are inside the proposed buffer zone. The mission strongly suggests that a moratorium be called on any new hotels in the area between Wadi Musa and Tayibe.

Sewage disposal project

A 5.5 million JD (Jordanian dinar) project for a sewage treatment system for Wadi Musa and its new hotels is under preparation. A pumping station would be built on the east side of Wadi Musa near the entrance to the site. The proposed sewage treatment plant, which will cover 20-25 dunums of land (2 to 2.5 ha), is adjacent to a major itinerary for tourists. Located less than 1 km from Sig al-Barid and the Neolithic village of Beidha, and not more than 2.5 km from the village of Um Sayhun it would, furthermore, be in the direction of the wind. Apart from the smell which could reach the centre of Petra, it will be visible

from the Beidha Road.Serious thought should be given to alternative locations for the treatment plant. The mission hydrologist will meet the Jordanian engineers responsible for the project and discuss possible solutions.

Village development

The Master Plan of Wadi Musa displayed in the Town Hall shows the proposed development of a residential area at the entrance to the site on 86 dunums (6.6 ha) of privately owned agricultural land and olive groves above Brooke Hospital towards Wadi Musa and parallel with the wadi. It appears that pressure from the owners led to the agreement of the local and regional committees and the Higher Planning Council to the land being re-zoned for residential use, and thus greatly increasing its value. It is probable that, after obtaining residential building permits, many of the owners would transform their buildings into hotels and restaurants. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities should be requested to confirm that no construction permits be issued for this land.

In Um Sayhun, a new four-storey housing construction has a strong negative impact from several parts of the site. Strict planning regulations, building guidelines and height restrictions are urgently needed. Further development should be halted to the west, east and south of the site, with very limited expansion permitted to the north.

Shops

Vendors of souvenirs are driving heavy trucks over the Roman paving of the Cardo, contrary to strict regulations. No further licences should be delivered to vendors inside Petra and souvenir shops should be forbidden in front of the Khazne.

Conservation of antiquities

The remains of the Winged Lion Temple have been exposed to the elements since they were excavated. Never having been consolidated, they are rapidly being eroded. No further excavation of the surrounding area should be permitted until the existing remains have been protected and conserved. Present projects for the restoration of the Temple should be carefully reconsidered and a donor identified.

In many parts of the site, important carved stone blocks lying on the ground are exposed to salt attack. The recording and marking of these stones and the creation of a lapidarium in which to store them in proper conditions should be considered a priority. The most important pieces should be exhibited in the future lapidary museum, together with remains from the Urn Tomb.

Immediate follow-up of the mission

By letter of 10 May 1994, UNESCO wrote to the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities informing them of its grave concerns regarding these different points and requesting in particular their support in order that the Movenpick Hotel at Wadi Musa remains within the authorized construction limits and uniform with the construction plans previously approved by the Municipality. Furthermore, in the area of Tayibe and Petra a moratorium should be enforced on the construction of all new hotels or facilities until such times as a Master Plan for Petra and its region is finalized and approved by the Jordanian Government. This Master Plan will be available before the summer and should serve to determine the characteristics of future constructions in order to ensure the integrity of the site.

Action Required

The Bureau could consider the approval of a contribution to organize a small expert meeting to accelerate the implementation of the Master Plan.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1994

A UNESCO mission was undertaken to Petra in April 1994. The mission was briefed by the MTA (Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities) on the creation of the Higher Committee for Petra under the authority of the Prime Minister and chaired by the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities. Its purpose was to develop plans for 'the continuous development of tourism in the area of Petra, including Wadi Musa'. The Committee has created a Technical Committee comprising a group of experts whose task will be to establish the framework for a future Petra Authority on the lines of the Aqaba and the Jordan Valley Development Authorities. This Technical Committee has already proposed a series of resolutions aiming to develop tourism infrastructure within the site. Its recommendations include the widening of the service road to the centre of the site, the creation of a bus service from the restaurant, and the expulsion of the Bdul from Um Sayhun. The Minister informed the mission that no decisions would be taken until the final draft of the Management Plan has been discussed and agreed upon with UNESCO.

The Bureau at its eighteenth session was informed in detail of the findings of the UNESCO mission of April 1994, particularly regarding the following items:

Impact of new hotel projects in the vicinity of Petra

Sewage disposal project

Village development

Shops

Conservation of antiquities.

 

Immediate follow-up of the mission

By letter of 10 May 1994 addressed to the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, UNESCO expressed its concern regarding these different points and requested, in particular, their support in order that the Movenpick Hotel at Wadi Musa remain within the authorized construction limits in accordance with the construction plans previously approved by the Municipality. UNESCO also requested that, in the area of Tayibe and Petra a moratorium be enforced on the construction of all new hotels or facilities until a Master Plan for Petra and its region could be finalized and approved by the Jordanian Government. This Master Plan was available in August 1994 and will serve, among others, to determine the characteristics and the limits of future constructions in order to ensure the integrity of the site.

The World Heritage Bureau during its eighteenth session in July 1994 expressed its grave concern with regard to the preservation of the integrity of the site to the Jordanian authorities (letter of 18 July 1994 sent by the World Heritage Centre) and granted financial support for the convening of a technical meeting on-site, in association with the Jordanian national authorities, national and international agencies involved, the two coordinators of the Master Plan and UNESCO, in order to accelerate the effective implementation of the Master Plan. This technical meeting was scheduled to take place in October 1994 and the Committee will be informed of the outcome during its forthcoming eighteenth session.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The Committee is requested to examine the report of the technical meeting which was scheduled for October 1994 and to consider the necessary actions.

Decision Adopted: 18 COM IX

Petra (Jordan)

The Committee was informed of the findings of the UNESCO mission which took place in April 1994, concerning:

- impact of new hotels under construction in the vicinity of the World Heritage site of Petra
- insufficiency or non-existence of sewage disposal facilities
- uncontrolled development of villages in the vicinity of the site
- proliferation of shops
- insufficient conservation of antiquities, and
- other encroachments upon the integrity of the site.

It was informed that the report has already been submitted to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee during its eighteenth session in July 1994 and that the Bureau had already expressed its serious concern to the Jordanian authorities regarding the preservation of the integrity of the site (transmitted by the World Heritage Centre by letter of 18 July 1994) and had approved a request for the organization on site of a technical meeting associating the national authorities, national and international agencies concerned, and the two UNESCO coordinators for the Management Plan in order to accelerate the effective implementation of the Petra National Management Plan.

The Committee was informed that this technical meeting was held in Petra in October 1994 and that it had not resulted in any concrete decisions ensuring the preservation of the site, although the situation at the site had further deteriorated, notably by beginning to build two new hotels near the entrance of the site and the granting of building permits for several others.

The Committee therefore expressed to the Jordanian authorities its serious concern with regard to the degradation of the site.

It requested them to urgently undertake the following:

1) by measure of conservation, the prohibition to build any new hotel in the vicinity of the site;

2) the official creation of the Petra National Park and the implementation of the Petra National Park Management Plan established by UNESCO experts upon request from the national authorities of Jordan, which defines a precise perimeter for the Park, and including the creation of eight protected zones, the creation of a buffer zone in order to control the development of building construction, and establishment of a management authority; and

3) to address the World Heritage Centre before 1 May 1995 a detailed report on the measures that have been undertaken to be submitted to the nineteenth session on the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee.

 

Decision Adopted: 18 BUR VI.B

The Bureau expressed concern following the report presenting the different threats to the integrity of the site of Pétra, especially with regard to:

1) the serious impact of some ten new hotels planned or under construction, both on the visitor capacity of the site, their visibility from the site and the disproportion of several of them in relation to the village habitations, the destruction of archaeological vestiges which they cause, pollution and soil erosion;

2) the negative impact of the pumping station planned for Wadi Musa and its new hotels;

3) the risks caused to the site by projects for the development of residential zones such as those included in the master plan of Wadi Musa, as well as the absence of building specifications and building height restrictions;

4) the necessity of applying existing legislation governing businesses, especially in the proximity of the monuments of the site;

5) the necessity of ensuring proper conservation of the vestiges of the Temple of the Lion and the sculptured blocks scattered throughout the site.

The Bureau agreed to a contribution from the World Heritage Fund to organize, together with the Jordanian authorities, a select meeting of experts at the site to implement the master plan of the site of Pétra as quickly as possible, and to take the necessary measures to ensure by all possible means the preservation of the values of the site.