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This article was published in JO magazine, November 2004



Words by: Majd Hijawi


To many, Petra has become a clichéd, stereotypical image of Jordan; its name and pictures adorn many a tourist shop, travel agency, and hotel lobby, but what do we, as Jordanians, really know about Petra? What do we know about its people, religion, art and architectural design, which have amazed people throughout the centuries? Do we really care to know, and should we care?

For anyone with doubts concerning the significance of the ancient city, Anees Maani would beg to differ. Anees, who is a sculptor and great enthusiast of archeology and Middle Eastern history, holds a strong belief that our heritage is what makes us civilized. In Anees' eyes, our history, and what we left behind of it, is a map of the human mind and its evolution; it's a source of valuable knowledge which must be preserved and learned from. Ignoring and taking these sites for granted, to him, is a crime. And so, in his effort to spread awareness on what he thinks to be one of the many important historical sites in Jordan, Anees launched the new website www.go2petra.com "Nothing on the net could ever cover everything there is to know about Petra," Anees admits, "but there are many things missing for people who want to visit, many important facts and sites in and around Petra that people should know about."

The site promises to inform anyone who is interested in going to Petra or learning more about the Jordanian landmark with straighforward, interesting facts and current issues. The site hosts a number of different sections, including a collection of more than 400 professional photographs of Petra, a guide to "getting to Petra," helpful tips on visiting and preserving the area and a comprehensive map of Petra itself, plotting out all the monuments, temples, streets and tombs which are a "must see" for any archeological enthusiast.

A brief history of Jordan and a short guide to Aqaba, Madaba, Amman and other Jordanian cities can also be found. Anees has included a compilation of other related web links and a recommendation of good books to read for people wanting to expand their knowledge on Petra. The site also offers a meeting point for discussion on facts and information about Petra and its history, strongly encouraging visitors, academics and professionals to contribute to the collected data.

In collaboration with many local businesses inside Petra and throughout Jordan, Anees ultimately aims to create a user-friendly network of transportation, accommodation and tourist stops for low budget travelers who are concerned about the high costs of visiting Jordan. "I've met many people in Sinai and other tourist areas outside of the country who want to come to Jordan, but are afraid of how expensive it is. I want to make traveling in Jordan cheaper than Egypt!"

The website, established in July this year, has already gained a surprising amount of exposure. Receiving an average of 300 visits per day, the popularity of the site continues to grow, its visitors serving as proof of the overwhelming worldwide interest in the ancient city.

The website is a small, but important, step in raising a proper awareness of Petra's rich history, and educating people on the need to preserve and maintain the many archeological spots of cultural importance in Jordan. In the future Anees hopes to expand this endeavor into a full-blown campaign, but first, local Jordanians and travelers across the globe can give Anees a "thumbs up" for his great singular effort in making a difference.

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