- by Haneen Nofal
- in Latest News
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PETRA — Italian President Sergio Mattarella toured the ancient city of Petra on Thursday before concluding his official visit to Jordan.
The tour comes a few days after Italy reaffirmed its commitment to the preservation of the historic site with an additional 1 Million euros toward a new UNESCO initiative focused on preserving Petra.
Ms. Costanza Farina, Director of the UNESCO Amman office, welcomed the president in Petra and expressed her sincere appreciation of Italy’s ongoing support and long-lasting engagement with UNESCO. “This visit constitutes a major step in the robust partnership between Italy and UNESCO and represents a further testimony of Italy’s commitment to both UNESCO and safeguarding world heritage,” Farina said.
The additional funding will support preserving Petra's Nabataean architectural heritage through the study of the Royal Tombs water management system and the conservation of the Palace Tomb, according to a UNESCO statement. The project, which will start this year, seeks to ensure the conservation of one of the most prominent rock-cut façades within the site, the Royal Palace Tomb.
This conservation initiative has been undertaken as a response to a strongly felt need to develop local technical skills on heritage conservation and raise awareness among the local community about the need to further preserve their heritage and to maintain it for future generations.
Italy has been a key partner of UNESCO in Petra since 2011, supporting national and local authorities to address a number of consecutive initiatives with the aim of reducing landslide risk and ensuring tourist and monument safety in the Siq, the mythical corridor of stone leading to the ancient city, the statement said. It added that the implementation of the "Siq Stability" programme was completed in 2018 and funded entirely by Italy.
These successful efforts have been complemented by further Italian support, through the ongoing “Youth for Heritage Conservation and Risk Prevention in Petra” project (2018-2020), which seeks to provide professional training and employment opportunities to youth by contributing to the implementation of priority interventions in the 'Siq', according to the statement.
Mattarella was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, Ambassador of Italy to Jordan Fabio Cassese and an official delegation.
The President’s tour included a stop at the Petra Visitor Center, which features a photo exhibition chronicling the Italian-funded interventions in Petra since 2011, undertaken by UNESCO in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities and the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority in the 'Siq' of Petra, the statement said.
Petra was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. The preservation of this site is a key component of the technical support provided by UNESCO to the national authorities in charge of the conservation and management of Jordan's extraordinary heritage.