Seven Reasons to Celebrate Petra

الثلاثاء 10 تموز 2007

children playingWritten by Batir Wardam

I was almost certain of Petra’s win in the New Seven Wonders competition, but it never crossed my mind it will be second only to the Great Wall of China. I thought Petra may end up in 5th-7th position judging by the small population of Jordan and the enormous influence of the global media that highlights other places in Europe and Latin America.

The success of Petra is worth celebrating for many reasons. I will try to summarize seven of those reasons that capture the spirit of the number ‘seven’ that is becoming a thriller nowadays.

1. Petra has managed to unite Jordanians on one objective at last. With the exception of religious fundamentalists and nagging depressed/depressing Jordanians who love to under evaluate any achievement every Jordanian participated in. Participation was done by voting, promoting the voting and organizing voting campaigns and it was really fantastic to see the people rallying behind one symbol at last, even if it was out of stones.

The voting for Petra in Jordan was beyond any forms of ethnic or religious divisions. Petra is a symbol of creativity and unity and was not associated with a Jordanian/Palestinian dualism and was thus free to be supported by everyone because it has a common Arab cultural lineage.

2. A country that has a population of 5 millions and an internet penetration rate of 15% and an average annual per capita income of less than 4,000 US $ is not likely to be influential in a global campaigning voting process. To end up second is an indicator of the success in national mobilization as well as the great contribution from outside Jordan. I may assume that around 50 million votes of the 100 millions went to Petra to be second, keeping in mind that each voter can vote for 7 places.

3. Taking a look at the comments left by fellow Arabs in online forums (Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera for example) makes me celebrate the win more as this annoyed a great amount of Jordan haters out there. We have read a lot of ridiculous comments about Jordan and Petra and the result is like salt in the wounds of our haters.


4. Petra represents the magic of ancient engineering. The most remarkable component is the ancient hydrological system. It represents another reminder of how Jordanians can solve the problems of scarce resources with hard work and developing their country like carving in the rocks. Current Jordan is very similar to ancient Petra with the fantastic effort done by the people to build and maintain the country in very difficult circumstances.

5. The campaign for Petra was designed in a smart way. I do not recall any banner telling Jordanians that voting for Petra is a ‘national obligation’ and I didn’t see the silly superficial campaigns we get used to in politics (Jordan First, We are all Jordan). This process respected the minds’ of people and was based on convictions.

6. Jordan was always present on the global map before the voting process but to know that billions of people will link the name of our country to the Rose Red City and not to Zarqawi is a big wave of fresh air. Good news from Jordan is always something to truly celebrate.

7. Despite what UNESCO says, this voting process was a popular vote. It reflects the attitudes of people all around the world. Maybe not very democratic but it was open with no restrictions and not hijacked by so-called experts. This is an indicator of the ‘collective mind’ of the world population, which is the true form of cultural globalization and we are so proud that the people of the world selected Petra with this landslide win.

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