The University of Petra and the University of Reading, UK, have won the 2020 Newton Fund Prize for Jordan, which is an annual prize of 1.5 million pounds for their innovative project addressing global development goals through international research cooperation. The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The winning project has two phases, the first phase was titled “Our Past, Our Future, all Together in Faynan”, while the second phase was called “The Past Empowers the Future”. They are both led by Professor Steven Mithen, University of Reading in the UK, and Dr Fatima Al-Nammari, the University of Petra in Jordan.
The winning project works to improve the livelihoods of the local community of Faynan, Jordan, a poverty pocket located next to a prominent cultural heritage site. The area is known for its remarkable natural heritage and prehistoric archaeological sites and is an eco-tourism destination.
The project developed plans for sustainable heritage tourism in a bottom-up approach, working with community representatives, schools, and local organizations to develop the museum’s exhibits and narratives. Work also included improvement of heritage tails, interpretation signs, developing a school educational program on local heritage awareness, in addition to training of local women on varied skills for heritage tourism-based businesses.
The project was funded by the Newton-Khalidi Fund, delivered via the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Jordan Department of Antiquities. The project is managed by Nebras Maslamani, while the team includes partners from the University of Jordan, Durham, Leeds, and Queens London, in addition to the Council for British Research in the Levant, and Pioneers, a Jordanian NGO.
The prize funding will be used to develop a local business based on heritage tourism. The project works with the women of the area to develop pottery designs inspired by the heritage of the site, to be sold online and in situ.
The University of Petra has been always keen on developing and adopting outreach programs for community development and engaging in regional and international projects for bridging with other scientists, journals, and symposia, thus bringing science to solve social problems, open new opportunities for employment, eradicate poverty and contribute to sustainability.