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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Monastery of Our Lady the Virgin near Dibbin.
Photo by PETRA
Centenary Pine Tree in Dibbin. The first Jordanian King, Abdallah I, took shade under this tree, and named it Al Hada'ah.
Copyright DIGITALGLOBE 2007
A Google Map showing the Dibbin National Park, also surrounding arid area is shown. Why not to build the project in this area?

As a Jerash blogger, I just wanted to have my say on Dibbin project. Personally, I have good memories of that park; school trips, picnics, passing the time under its trees with friends and family and other memories that are hard to forget. However in this post I will try to be rational as much as possible.

I'm happy that Jordanian blogosphere has different visions of Dibbin's project. The majority of bloggers invited to sign a petition against the project. However, I've read the Nasim's post two days ago, and he presented a different view of the situation and he demanded explicitly not to sign the petition.
I invite you to read his post.

Ok, let me present myself, I'm a Jerash citizen, or more accurately, I'm a "COOL" Jerash citizen, I've signed the petition and I still invite everybody to sign it. I know the petition is until now unclear; but personally, I will sign any petition that is in opposition to the current project and demands protection for our trees, even if I won't get knowledge of its secondary details. Another point is that the project itself is unclear, I'm sure you've noticed that different blogs, websites and newspapers have contradictory information on what will be built in Dibbin and how it will be built.

Anyway some intentions are evident; first of all, Jordan Dubai Capital is not a charity, so it's exaggerated to represent this project as a humanitarian action to solve all Jerash economic problems. The company tries to persuade poor people here that the project will have a key role in extremely decreasing poverty and unemployment rates. Unfortunately some of them believed in that, and found the Dibbin project as the unique way to exit from the current situation. In reality no one can bet on this, especially on the long term.

The company will also have a selective policy regarding entrances, for sure price of tickets to enter Dibbin will be high, very high. This discriminatory procedure will allow only privileged and elite class to visit the park.

Jordan Dubai Capital clearly expressed that one hotel and 200 chalets will be built, initially they aimed to construct three hotels and 600 chalets but this plan was downsized after several consultations with RSCN, which affirmed that 8% of the area covering the complex will be directly affected, and minimum 160 trees will be cut down. Imagine that… building such a complex is not so simple; electricity, water, roads and other several infrastructures will have a devastating effect on the surrounding zone.

The most important matter is that the project is illegal, in fact the proposed project does not agree with the Environment Protection Law No.52 of 2006 (Articles 13,14,18) and Agriculture Law No.44 of 2002 (Read Articles 28,32,34,35). These laws prohibit the use of forests by private sector and determine the forests property as national and public, they also give Ministry of Environment more privileges in approving or refusing activities that could have any impact on environment.

There's a solution for this problem and it's quite easy, I think that a good alternative is to make a tourist complex that:

  • Is outside the boundaries of Dibbin park, and outside forests. There are so many empty spaces here in Jerash, it will cost a little more to plant new trees, but results are the same, in addition, we will gain a new green zone, even if it is privately owned.
  • Protects environment. No trees should be cut down for the project, and if it will be set up in an arid or semi-arid zone, it will be good to help stop desertification. It should also encourage protection of wild fauna and flora.
  • Meets local community needs. Since the project is in Jerash it must be addressed to Jerashis (or Jerashians, as you like). It should really help to produce new jobs, workplaces and it should be an important investment for city's development and economic growth.
  • Does not monopolize forests in any way. Dibbin National Park is for all Jordanians; today we pay 1 JD as entrance fees, which 20% is directed to local people. Things should not change after the project.
  • Has an environment friendly architecture, promotes tourism and does not make wasteful use of rare resources.

I think this is a good alternative to all the parts; investors, environmentalists and local community. Sorry to say, many persons who pretended park's protection were accused to be averse to any form of investment, we are not against any 'Dibbin project' we're only preoccupied of the proposed project, so a project that takes the above points in consideration will gain my support. And believe me, most of the people of Jerash have the same opinion.

U P D A T E :

The Ministry of Environment had reservations on the original location, so it suggested a new location, the 'resthouse'=estiraha, that's owned by Social Security Corporation and already has infrastructures, so no trees will be cut down :) However, this zone is inside the forest itself :(

Can we say that Jordan Dubai Capital 'surrendered'?... they finally have decided to change location, on the other side, up to this time we don't know the result of the environmental impact assessment (EIA)...

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excellent post

some argue that it's an economic blessing but given that most of these residents are seasonal agricultural workers, how much will a tourist/hotel complex help? will it even employ them? moreover, even if it employs them all, will moving its location outside the dibbin forest boundaries dramatically hurt the unemployed? will they think to themselves, well i was going to go work there but now that its a few kilometers away...

anyways, excellent post.

Thanks Nas,
You're right, i also find it difficult to understand how JDC will give us such economic blessing... even if the project will have thousands of visitors in its five star hotels and swimming pools, this will minimally help Jerash community economically... and regarding building the project outside the boundaries i mentioned it as an ecologic necessity rather than economic.

wow very nice post.. well i wonder where am i from all these news @_@

actually, its not rational to feel stuck between two choices..there are always solutions that can ensure both protection of the park and employment of the Jarashis.

Others may see this silly, that why making such a big issue on such park while in most parts of Jordan we see public destroying the nice features of nature because of their summer picnics..
But what i say is that change starts from here..if we keep ignoring such simple issues (as others see it), nothing will ever change.
i vote for the trees! =)

Hi kanji_chan!
thanks for your support, together we can protect nature :)

well, thanks for the linkout 1st of all.

I do agree with alot of what you have said in here, except for some facts that were ignored.

regarding the lows ... The state is ,still, the owner of the land and site ... it will be just rented for Jordan Dubai Capital to be invested ... and ... this rent was very strictly ruled by several governmental concern as far as the employment of locals and improving the surrounding society.

Also, the project was not approved and initiated until both the RSCN and the ministry of Environment had over an entire year of negotiations with the company.

the third point is that the company will NOT take control of the whole site ... and who goes now to debbin can still go as he have ever been!

now as far as the last number of points you mentioned ... i totally agree ... but if this was to be done, it should have been done even before...

and last but not least ... lets remember ... both, me and you, how empty are the hills west of jerash compared to 10-15 years ago!

let me cote one of the bloggers (I forgot his name and linkout) here when he said commenting on the project: "lets plant 300 trees ... instead of signing on something we dont know, or just promoting to sign such a statement that might not really affect the project!" ... Fare enough, and thanks again for your opinions

You're welcome nasimjo©,
Sorry for being late to reply...
I'm happy that we have many opinions in common, and I see that you agree with the majority of things I've written in my post, and that's a good thing...
The fact that there's an agreement between RSCN, Ministry of Environment and Jordan Dubai Capital should be secondary, especially if we know that legality of the project is under discussion (the law prohibits cutting even a single tree), and i know the company itself said that they will not take whole control of the zone... this may mean that a restricted part of the zone (it could be a thousandth part) will be accessible by others. However, the intended zone should not be protected...
In reality you're very optimist about the project, but as I've written, Jordan Dubai Capital is not a charity, and we should expect everything...
Thanks again for your comment :)

hi that is very cool i believe that i will visit this places some time.

Hi meso!
if you will have a trip to jerash, call me and i'll be there :)

esme3t akher al2khbar : laqd tam naql almashrou3 to alman6eqa alseya7eyah.....

sho ra2yek??

sm3t el5br w bl f3l el mashroo3 ra7 ykoon fi mawq3 el estira7a, y3ne bil nsbh liq63 al ashjar a7san min el mawq3 el awwal... bas lazm n3rf nata2j derasat el 2athar el be2e (EIA)... w ejmaln 2eshe mnee7 naql el mashroo3 :)

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