Thursday, July 31, 2008

Green belt??

Views from Ras an Naqub, Southern Jordan

In today's Jordan Times an article talks about placing a 'green belt' along the 'desert' highway;
hmmm! But what about my green belt along the Wadi Sakra road that was taken away from me, the citizen, from the base of my mountain in congested Shmeisani ....? And all along I thought a 'green belt' was a term designed to create space within and around urban areas and to curtail encroachment on the land, so that .... people ... can live without feeling suffocated! So far from creating green belts in the desert that seem to go against the laws of nature, how about some in the concrete jungles we call cities?

I live on a Tel that is mostly residential in a quarter of Amman known for its banking and commercial services. My residential area stretches over just a few square kilometres, but it includes about six schools from kindergarten to College and two hotels on my side of the road and no park, nor open space for kids and parents alike. We have to cross a major busy highway with no working pedestrian lights to walk to the nearest 'open space' we have, a 'bird garden' and the Haya Cultural Centre whose 'park' is getting smaller and smaller by the year, through no fault of its own.

Our once green belt road, the dual carriageway that skirts the bottom of our Tel, is now being developed on both sides and for years we have endured noise pollution from the various projects being built. By the way, our 'Living Wall' project is on it's way up, a huge commercial project of more property for sale, hotels, offices and shops, similar to the one going up in Abdali ... yippeee ... another built space to avoid. And meanwhile, someone somewhere cries "but what about the water?" And this brings me to the green belt point.

I can understand the need to control desertification, to increase road safety, but to turn the desert highway from the airport down to Aqaba into an avenue of trees, oops sorry oasis, seems a bit off the mark.

how will 'creative enterprise' thrive in amongst the trees?
photo by z

However, the existing oases, or rural villages and towns that border the highway from Amman to Aqaba, need a bit of tender loving care, so why not put in a 'green belt' around these villages to curb rural sprawl and desertification for the people who actually live in this harsh climate? A ring of trees, otherwise known as a belt, would give the people, and the drivers on their way through, a real sense of an oasis of rest and food for the soul, preserving the rural and desert landscape in the process.

I personally love the unimpeded view of the desert, the lay of the land and the vistas of unrivalled beauty and space as we drive down the highway. I could do without the fields of plastic bags though! One of my favourite places in Jordan is Ras an Naqub with remarkable vistas over an ancient land. As you turn a corner after Ma'an, and survey the open space that greets you as the sandstone mountains meander down towards Wadi Rum, it soothes the mind., a form of escapism from all things 21st century. I would hate to lose the view. And as for drip irrigation in a dusty and sand filled environment .... I'll give those drip nozzles a few months before mother nature takes over and blocks them beyond repair. Now, how labour intensive is that? Life in the desert is not that easy, it is after all, a desert, but a silently thriving one all on its own .... J

Views from Ras an Naqub, southern Jordan, along the
Desert Highway


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