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While locals have referred to the ancient Al Birketein Roman Pools archaeological site in Jerash as “abandoned and neglected”, tourism officials and economic experts are optimistic that proper investment and site management could bring about a positive economic ripple effect within the municipality.
Jerash Tourism Director Firas Khatatbeh told The Jordan Times that the site, which contains two pools, a Roman amphitheatre and a Roman bath, is “among the most stunning archaeological sites in Jerash”.
“Each pool covers an area of 95 square metres with a depth of 3.5 metres. The site is located approximately 1 kilometre away from the Roman ruins of Jerash,” Khatatbeh said.
The Tourism Directorate is currently working to place Al Birketein firmly on Jerash's tourism map, he added.
According to Khatatbeh, past attempts to invest in Al Birketein were faced with several obstacles.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities signed the first investment contract, but “unforeseen circumstances” led to its termination, Khatabeh said.
“The second contract was signed just before the outbreak of COVID-19, which adversely affected tourism projects in the Kingdom,” he explained.
Despite these setbacks, Khatatbeh remains optimistic about the site's future.
“The Tourism Ministry is set to make Al Birketein open to investments again very soon,” he said.
Ministry officials are encouraging the private sector to invest in the tourism industry through an investment tender, Khatatbeh added.
This year, the ruins in Jerash have already attracted over 266,000 visitors, Khatatbeh noted.
“Tourism is flourishing, with increasing tourist footfall expected to rise further by the end of the summer,” Khatatbeh noted.
Economist Khaled Salameh told The Jordan Times that the Al Birketein site has “great potential”, projecting that proper utilisation of the site would bring “substantial” economic benefits to the Jerash municipality, as well as investors.
“With strategic investment and promotion, the site, along with the Jerash Ruins, has the potential to attract a significant quantity of tourists,” Salameh said.
The economist further predicted that investment in the site would contribute to creating employment opportunities, boost local business and generate hundreds of thousands of dinars in revenue.
However, Ali Ayasrah, a 33-year-old Jerash local, expressed concern about the site's future.
“Al Birketein site is unfortunate. Despite several attempts to start tourism projects, nothing works,” Ayasrah said.
For Ayasrah and his family, Al Birketein was once a cherished place to connect with nature and enjoy peaceful moments together.
Jerash resident Ahmad Otoum told The Jordan Times that the site will once again be “neglected and abandoned”, detailing his concern that further neglect would cause the site to become a home for stray animals.
Source: the Jordan Times.