Leaving the centre of Amman at an early hour, the city almost feels like a village. The seven hills have the miraculous power to create little niches of peace and quiet that is harboured even at rush hour when the highways and streets are jam packed with traffic. A shepherd leaves his house and goats frolic around him. The mosks sing their early prayer in canon breaking trough the silence. Dogs are barking and the still deserted streets are slowly awakening in the golden sunlight. The road meanders left and right, going up and down hill passing through a gorge of steep mountains on a way leading to the lowest point on earth.
Suddenly the gorge opens up at giving sight into the deep where an earthly treasure is revealed. The blue chalky color of the Dead Sea, al-Bahr al-Mayyit catches the eye contrasting with the warm sandy colors of the surrounding mountains. Its waters enclosed by three countries: Israël, Palestine and Jordan. Come to think of this point as the belly button of the Earth more than four hundred meters below sealevel. Opening the window of the car my nose catches the salty warm fragrance of the water. Just in time to take a snapshot of one of the few trees proudly growing deep roots its crown providing shade in the relentless sun. A symbol of hope in this bare landscape.
The Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead Sea. For years the Dead Sea is a source of major concern not only because of a level drop followed by a groundwater level drop. A Jordanian water expert explains that the government has tried for years turn around this ecological disaster. The belly button of the earth is drying out. What would that mean?
One of the main projects is the “Jordan National Red Sea Development Project” or ‘Red-Dead’ as the locals call this plan to convey seawater from the Red Sea near Aqaba to the Dead Sea. The preparation of the project started in 2009. Water will be desalinated along the route to provide fresh water to Jordan, with the brine discharge sent to the Dead Sea for replenishment. The effect on the water of the Dead Sea remains to be seen as the water contains important regenerating minerals enough to ensure a million industry of beauty products and health resorts and yet is undrinkable. ‘Paradoxically the destilled water most people in Jordan drink doesn’t contain any natural minerals,’ explains an expert in the field.
The Blue Peace: a detailed water report gives insight into facts, figures and proposes measures to ‘re-think Middle-East water’, the biggest problem in the region. ‘Jordan is facing a future of very limited water resources, among the lowest in the world at the same time having the 9th highest population growth. The population increase by over one million was caused partially by the influx of Palestinian and later Iraqi refugees into Jordan between 1980-1990. Add to this the enormous influx of refugees from Libya, Egypt and Syria during the past years that will further increase the gap between the Kingdom’s demand for water and the amount of renewable freshwater actually available. A serious concern to be addressed by the world as a whole. Europe has to reconsider its strategy concerning the Middle-East. Let us open the cookie tin to support Jordan, not only to welcome refugees but also to share what we have with our neighbours.
A Jordanian artist Lana Nasser raises awareness with her performances in and outside Jordan bringing the ecological disaster of the Death Sea to life. “If the Death Sea could speak, what would it say? She is mesmerizing her audience with Death Sea stories coming from the Bible, the Quran and the Torah, working to restore the awareness of the sacred feminine: the belly button of the earth.