Monday, January 08, 2007

Dibbeen Revisited

My concern about the JD 100 million tourism project proposed for Dibbeen continues. (Reference: ‘There Goes Our National Forest’ posted May 9, 2006.) I am happy that the project is not a ‘fait accompli’ and is still pending. According to the Jordan Times article of January 5-6, 2007, it is “theoretically” illegal to build on any of the Kingdom’s natural reserves. However, the article continues, “the Ministry of Agriculture has the last say on whether construction on any patch of land goes through.” What a convenient loophole that could be used to resolve this debate. Either it is illegal to build on a natural reserve or it isn’t. The Minister of Agriculture often changes in a government re-shuffle, and his signature conceivably could alter, threaten, or destroy a national heritage!

The Social Security Corporation (SSC) owns the land for the proposed venture, and its mandate is to “bring investment to the land to benefit the corporation’s shareholders.” Obviously that is the plan. Although the project isn’t on the land of the reserve itself, it is so close there are grave concerns that the reserve will be irreparably damaged by this tourism investment. That is what the fuss is all about, and that possibility alone should be enough to stop the project from going through.

Why can’t the SSC and the foreign investors do a project that will make the desert bloom? The Israelis have bragged for decades that they have done exactly that. I’m sure that JD 100 million would convert a little piece of Jordanian desert into a very pleasant place indeed and would leave our precious Dibbeen forest untouched.
ASH

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