Yesterday, colleague Rana Sabbagh wrote a piece on what she calls the “Dead Sea Curse”; on the massive amount of garbage visitors leave behind during the weekend.
Obviously, this disregard to nature and the environment hurts the wildlife, nature itself, and turns the whole place into a dump.
Before, during, and after the Arab Summit, the government gave this vital touristic site an outstanding and immediate amount of attention.
This may have fixed it up for the time being, but how many summits of this scale and magnitude can Jordan host in a year’s time?!
Hence, Sabbagh suggested providing decent facilities and services, as well as behavioural guidance for citizens and monitory measures in place.
In truth, this would considerably deflate the environmental catastrophe; a good suggestion, might I add.
In fact, it is indeed on the government’s to do list. But it is, however, on the list of other massive and postponed national projects which are neglect at the time being when they should be a priority. Governments, media, municipalities, and the state as a whole, should pay attention to the main sectors and spheres of national interest; tourism, education, higher education, labour corruption, and combating administrative corruption. Those should be the state’s foremost priorities.
In regards to tourism, the Dead Sea’s situation in regards to cleanliness is no different from other touristic sites in Jordan; primitive and neglected, despite everything the government says.
We have yet to see any revolutionary suggestions implemented, or any innovation for that matter, to elevate tourism in Jordan to the levels of a real industry.
This is true in terms of infrastructure, services facilitated, and capacitation to resolve unemployment.
Tourism alone, as an industry, has the inherent ability to drive a qualitative leap in Jordan’s economy, be it domestic tourism or inbound.
It is crucial that Jordanians understand the value of this sector and the returns from its development and prosperity. Aspects of tourism, its culture, must be integrated into the curriculums and school books.
Moreover, tourism and antiquity schools at universities must be revisited, and perhaps even relocated to touristic and anthropological sites in order to facilitate the transmutation to applied sciences related to the field.
Why not? It would certainly help graduate a more qualified and educated generation!
In regards to education, there is talk right now on suggestions that have to do with the general high school stage; some for and other against. But we, as citizens and spectators, still have no clear idea as to what exactly is suggested. The current debate is more of a mystery for so many people.
The Minister of Education, or perhaps officials within the Ministry, should address the public, and elaborate on the ideas suggested, regardless of the ripeness of these ideas.
The dialogue over education and curriculum is of interest to all Jordanians, and it is equally important for the purposes of popularisation by including the public in such vital debates.
Notwithstanding all of the above is labour market reforms. Those are no less crucial than education reforms, or the reformation of the political and financial dynamic.
One of Jordan’s most pressing issues is rising unemployment. This is a nightmare for our youth.
Another issue in this regard is the dyscoordination between the higher education process and the processes and requirements of the labour market.
Equally important is the massive disproportion between foreign labour and domestic unemployment!
Why are there so many foreign labourers in Jordan when there are so many jobless Jordanians?!
Likewise, there is the question of administrative reform and public sector development, including combating administrative corruption.
Those are all parts of the whole. The government is obviously disregarding priorities that are as concrete and vital to the state and the government as it is for the citizens.
These issues should preside our priorities internally, and should also transcend the tactic to strategy, in order to facilitate the dawn of a brighter future. Those may too become the highlights of political and party programmes.
What we need now is awareness that we need to reorganise our priorities.
We need to know that internal collaboration, cooperation, and workshops are necessary to expedite reforms in practicality.
Still, we are waiting for the governmental genius which may drive such initiative; personnel with the vision, the courage, and the insight to set the revolution in motion.
Otherwise, we have very little use for ministers with the traditional, executive, bureaucratic mentality!
This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.