By Jack Tarling
BBC News, Amman
Culture Minister Omar Shafeek (left) says there is “not much of the Dead Sea left”
Jordan is trying to lure back tourists to the Dead Sea by advertising its remoteness – and warning that rising sea levels will make it even more of a symbol of hardship.
According to some scientists, the Dead Sea could end up less than 60% of its current size by the end of the century.
Jordan is hoping that the world’s fashion industry will find it appealing as a design reference in souvenirs.
The country hopes that the Dead Sea will become the next big brand for tourism.
But as the water-sports and diving industry has grown at the coastal resort of Asmaa, and an upmarket hotel and conference centre have come on stream in the capital Amman, the desert scenes in which the Dead Sea is the setting for Jordan’s history and folk tales seem all the more iconic and compelling.
The Jordan Times reports that, at a recent “Desert as Theme Destination” conference in the biblical Mount Nebo region of modern-day Jordan, tourism officials reported their concern that it was disappearing.
The minister of culture, Omar Shafeek, told delegates there was “not much of the Dead Sea left”.
In ancient times people interpreted the Bible story of Abraham and Isaac and Isaac by adding the fact that the waters of the Dead Sea have turned into wine.
Jordan does not advertise its heritage sites – such as Petra and Petra’s rock-floored city wall – on offer to visitors in its souvenir shops and guides often steer well clear of discussing religion and politics.
But the minister of culture does not expect the Great Desert to completely disappear, even if water levels continue to decline.
“It is always like a spring – you can’t stop it,” he told the BBC.
Jordan has taken measures to prevent flooding. It says it is building an army of barrier nets around the vicinity of Petra and is installing a barrier along the coast to help protect the sea’s precious waters from rising tide levels.