How do you capture the entire character of a culture that has no written record, has lived for centuries in relative isolation and exists in complete harmony with one of the world’s most extreme environments?
Over the past few weeks, much has been said about the latest bid by archaeologists, government officials and tourism experts to have Wadi Rum admitted to a prestigious group of natural heritage sites named UNESCO.
There can be little question that the protected zone’s unique landscapes, natural rock formations, flora and fauna justify warrant inclusion on the list.
That it remains in question whether the bid should be a single site application or mixed site, including cultural and environmental importance, is surprising.
“When a child is born, the father goes into the desert in search of the largest scorpion he can find. The eldest woman slowly cooks the animal in a pan over an open fire until it melts like butter. This salve is massaged into the skin of the baby. The baby gets sick as a consequence of the scorpion venom but not enough to do it harm. I was bitten by a scorpion a few years ago and nothing happened. This is one of the traditional medicines of our people that is being lost.” Attayak