Explore the mysterious depths of the Gulf of Aqaba
2017 - 2018
The Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan is implementing the project “Explore the mysterious depths of the Gulf of Aqaba”, which aims to revive the environmental value of natural coral reefs and industrial coral reefs. It will focus on integrating and developing the concept of marine heritage, which aims to enhance the understanding and knowledge of natural heritage and create links with the values of the historical heritage in Aqaba. The project also aims to revive the historical and heritage value of the Islamic city of Ayla and shed light on many of the maritime activities of the city, which was the center of the Islamic economy in previous eras.
USAID - Sustainable Cultural Heritage through Engagement of Local Communities Project (SCHEP)
- The creation of the Maritime Heritage Unit and its establishment within the marine protection programs of the Royal Marine Conservation Society.
- Provided linkages between natural and cultural heritage at Aqaba, which helped develop a new tourism niche.
- Performed the first underwater archeological survey at the Islamic City of Ayla, which fulfilled governmental requirements after the ratification of the underwater archeology treaty in 2001.
- Trained and created job opportunities for 18 members of the local community on the concept of marine heritage and the importance of environment and marine conservation.
- "Ayla by night" has been implemented as a tourist heritage destination within the walls of the Islamic city of Ayla.
- Raised awareness in the community on the concept of natural and historical cultural heritage through activities that addressed different segments of society.
Launch of the Marine Heritage Unit
The Marine Heritage Unit is one of the most recently established units of the Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan, whose main task is to preserve the heritage and natural treasures and to preserve and promote the relevant cultural and historical heritage in line with UNESCO Guidelines. One of the most important objectives of the Maritime Heritage Unit is:
- To preserve and protect underwater heritage in the Gulf of Aqaba, to promote the sustainable use of its resources and to contribute to national and international partnerships and treaties.
The Heritage Unit deals with two dimensions: natural heritage and cultural and historical heritage. Natural heritage includes landscapes and the natural environment, including biodiversity, as well as geographical diversity. Cultural and historical heritage includes the heritage of society as well as all traces of human existence of a cultural, historical or archaeological nature that were partially or wholly submerged.
The Marine Heritage Unit is incorporated under JREDS’ Marine Environment Program and is managed d in the Aqaba office. It will be linked to other programs of JREDS through the awareness and sustainable development programs through working with schools, hotels and the tourism sector.
The work of the Marine Heritage Unit will focus on the awareness and protection of:
- Natural Coral Reefs
- Artificial Coral Reefs such as the Cedar Pride Shipwreck
- The Islamic city of Ayla
- House of Sharif Hussein bin Ali
Marine Heritage Unit Role
- Develop knowledge and understanding of the natural, cultural and historical heritage in the Gulf of Aqaba.
- Promote the more sustainable use of heritage sites and enrich the tourism environment in Aqaba using creative tools.
- Communicate, disseminate and educate the community about the existence of marine heritage and its importance for the environment, social well-being and the economy.
- Strengthen information sharing and standardize data collection for world marine heritage in scientific and research communities to ensure that the best available data informs decision-making.
- Create more extensive national inventories of marine biodiversity with a special focus on the Aqaba gap areas.
- Establish appropriate linkages with national, regional and international entities to promote the concept of marine heritage in Jordan and advocate for sustainable use.
- Develop and establish an internal database of marine heritage resources.
- Identify, evaluate and record sites, cultural landscapes and marine landscapes.
- Strengthen site protection measures through the process of nominating the national registry
- Develop a greater understanding of marine heritage resources and associated human stories