Overview: Who manages Petra?
The Petra Development and Tourism Regional Authority (PDTRA), established in 2009 controls the entire Petra Region (755 km2) including the Petra Archaeological Park which covers 264 km2 of the land. The Petra Archaeological Park is considered an archaeological and World Heritage Site as designated by UNESCO in 1985 and management of this section of land falls under the responsibility of the Petra Archaeological Park (PAP); a subordinate organization that reports to the PDTRA. Jurisdiction over archaeological research, conservation, restoration and preservation however, lies with the Department of Antiquities, a subordinate Department to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Since 1934, Petra was managed remotely from the capital Amman by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. In compliance with the recommendation of UNESCO in its management plan of 1994, the Council of Ministers launched the Petra Regional Council (PRC) in 1995 to manage the archaeological Park from within the Region.
The PRC was officially established by the government of Jordan so as to protect Petra as a World Heritage Site including the “Sanctuary” area and to protect the archaeological, cultural and environmental features of the surrounding areas. Since its establishment, the Park’s ruling body has evolved over the span of 15 years and acquired its own laws with financial and administrative independence reporting directly to the Prime Minister.
In 2004, the government sanctioned the National Tourism Strategy and made archaeological tourism its mainstay. However this was done without development of a strategy for the management and preservation of the archaeological heritage of Jordan. In September 2009, Law Number 15 was enacted to define the Petra Development and Tourism Region and the inauguration of PDTRA. The intent was to streamline the management of the Petra Region and the Park with a focus on tourism. The establishment of the PDTRA heralded in a change in the management of the PAP and the Region. As such the new management structure for Petra is responsible for developing a comprehensive strategy and specific controls for protecting the Park. There is, however, a caveat in the new law that designates the responsibility of conservation to the Department of Antiquities.
The PDTRA’s new role is the development of the Petra Region economically capitalising on its potentials in tourism, among other areas such as local community development, heritage management and protection, and the environment. The mandate of the PDTRA focuses on several areas, including:
- Managing and protecting the Petra archaeological Park
- Developing tourism
- Zoning and land use
- Stimulating investment
- Improving socio-economic conditions of local communities
- Sustainable development across the Region
Leadership and Governance:
The PDTRA reports directly to the Prime Minister and is headed by a Chief Commissioner who is assisted by four deputy Commissioners. The deputy commissioners make up a council called “Commissioners Council” that manage the Authority and oversee its affairs.
- PDTRA Chief Commissioner
- Deputy Chief Commissioner for Infrastructure Services & Acting Chief Commissioner
Mohammad A.M. Abulghanam
- Commissioner for Petra Archaeological Park & Cultural Heritage
- Commissioner for Tourism & Investment Affairs
Mohamad M. Queisi
- Commissioner for Community Development & Environment
Mohammad Al Farajat
Currently, the PAP Commissioner manages the Park in its entirety and reports directly to the Chief Commissioner for the PDTRA. The qualifications required of this position are specialisation in cultural heritage management or a related field.
Successful management of the Park is dependent on the understanding of the archaeological and natural heritage of the Park and its preservation. To this date cultural heritage management has not been integrated into the management of the Park. There is a great need for continuous training of PAP staff to qualify them to a level that will insure sustainable preservation of cultural heritage while promoting tourism and providing opportunities for socio-economic development for the local communities.
PNT believes a process of integrated management should aim at combining and balancing the following:
Without maintaining a proper balance the long-standing issue of heritage management in Petra will remain unresolved.