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On the bright side

Nov 05,2022 - Last updated at Nov 05,2022

Last week, a number of friends, my family, and I had the pleasure of visiting the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, and sometime before that the Azraq Wetland Reserve.

Two observations I wish to highlight on the basis of the two visits. The first relates to the network of roads in the area, and the second to the two reserves themselves and other reserves and protected areas throughout the country.

Regarding the network of roads connecting Zarqa and Azraq, and the various points of attraction in between, one cannot but notice and be impressed by its outstanding quality, robustness, spaciousness and elegance, making the drive not only safe and comfortable, but in fact pleasurable.

Such a remarkable achievement is clearly attributed to the vision and hard work of those who planned and those who implemented this milestone project, as well those Arab countries which offered the necessary financial support.

A project like this is highly appreciated because it achieves several targets at once: making travel safe, boosting mobility within the country, stimulating trade, and encouraging tourism.

The Jordanian desert is beautiful and magical; it will certainly be a great tourist attraction if those concerned give it the attention and priority it deserves.

Building on such an example, one hopes that the rest of the road network in the region itself and throughout Jordan will receive similar planning and action so as to enable us to realise the leap we have been hoping for within the transportation sector, one which will definitely give a push to the economy and, ultimately, people’s happiness.

What we have seen is certainly heart-warming.

The second observation pertains to the two reserves, behind each of which is a story which can be fully grasped only upon paying them a visit.

The Shaumari Reserve epitomises the success story of rehabilitating the Arabian Oryx and bringing it back to its original home, after near extinction due to excessive hunting and other causes.

The Reserve has been built on the basis of scientific studies and wise, meticulous planning, and it is slowly restoring the Arabian Oryx to what hopefully will be its status in the good old days.

In addition to the oryx, with its bright, white colours and beautiful, wide eyes which Arab poets wrote famously about, we were able to spot several rare birds, in addition to a wide variety of plants.

As for the Azraq Wetland Reserve, it also embodies the success story of restoring water to a key stop for global migrating birds.

Up until the 1960s and 1970s, the area was famous for its oases with abundance of water. Due to unwise, mismanaged water consumption, for drinking and other purposes, the oases almost dried up, seriously threatening the lives of thousands of migrating and local birds  —  as well as rare buffalos and plants.

Rehabilitating the oases enabled the area to recuperate slowly and for birds, buffalos, and plants to live safely and happily in such a beautiful spot.

Perhaps the most important function of these two reserves, and others in the country, was articulated during the trip by my youngest son. “What I like most,” he said, “is seeing the animals happy in their natural habitat; not like zoos where the poor animals are confined in artificial settings.”

And truly, this is where we in Jordan excelled: through protecting reserves, and not setting up zoos which have been receiving increased criticism.

We hope to see more reserves set up.

I have felt compelled to highlight these two positive observations in this article, and to extend big thanks to all those who have contributed to our safe and spacious modern roads, and to protecting our plants and animals in ingenious ways.

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