Book showcases badia’s ‘hidden treasures’

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Sharifa Zein Bint Nasser, president of the Hashemite Fund for Development of Jordan Badia, speaks at a ceremony in Amman on Sunday to launch a book on the Jordanian badia (Photo by Hind Joucka)

AMMAN — The Hashemite Fund for Development of Jordan Badia launched a book of photographs this week that showcases the beauty of Jordan’s badia in a bid to protect and preserve its environment and cultural heritage.

The launch came in celebration of His Majesty King Abdullah’s 54th birthday and took place at the National Gallery of Fine Arts on Sunday, where some of the photographs taken by renowned photographer Zohrab Markarian were exhibited.

The book documents within its pages the different aspects of the badia — its scenery its animal and plant life, its people, the values and traditions engraved within its culture.

It is divided into three sections — the Northern, Central and the Southern Badia and includes well-known proverbs from the bedouin heritage.

According to Sharifa Zein Bint Nasser, president of the Hashemite Fund for Development of Jordan Badia, the “remarkable places” captured in the photographs have been spared from pollution and abuse.

“We tried to include areas that have never been photographed before. It’s a way of documenting what the badia is like today — from the environment, to the archaeology, to the people,” she said at the book launch.

The badia constitutes 80 per cent of Jordan’s land and is different from the desert because of its larger plant and animal life, Sharifa Zein explained.

She underlined the distinction between the two: “A badia is a semi-dry land, which once it has water and tender-loving care, it blooms. We can see the greenery and trees and wild flowers in some of the pictures.”

But there are some parts of the badia, according to Sharifa Zein, that have been affected by desertification.

The Hashemite Fund for the Development of Jordan Badia was established in 2003 by Royal decree with the objective of developing the badia.

The overall aim of the fund is to improve socio-economic conditions in the badia by building the capacities of local communities, and by implementing well-planned projects in various relevant sectors.

Proceeds from selling the book will go to support income-generating projects in the badia region, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The book was realised through the lens of Markarian who visited all the “hidden” locations.

“I used to think that I know Jordan inch by inch, but when I was introduced to these hidden parts of the badia, I realised that it’s the heart and soul of Jordan. I fell in love with it,” the photographer said.

“We saw the most breathtaking landscapes. You walk a couple of kilometres and you see a valley full of flowers, then you see a hill full of rocks. I saw flowers that grow through rocks — that’s something I’ve never seen before,” he told The Jordan Times.

According to Markarian, bedouins were hospitable and helpful and contributed to the realisation of the project. 

Sheikh Khaled Suleiman Al Atoon from the Southern Badia was one of them.

“I have lived in the badia all my life and can say that I know every inch of it by heart,” he said.

“I helped guide The Hashemite fund to find hidden gems and locations that have historic and tourist significance. We want the whole world to see the beauty of our badia, locally and internationally.”

This piece was published in The Jordan Times

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