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President Obama in Petra
24 March 2013

“This is pretty spectacular” and “it’s amazing” are some statements from US president Barack Obama as he walked around the ancient rosy city of Petra on Saturday 23rd of March and wandered at the façade of the treasury, and the rose red buildings built into the rocks which he encouraged people to visit.

President Obama ended his tour of the Middle East in Petra, Jordan, which he says “has always been a safe haven.” He enjoyed his tour inside the ancient city and bought souvenirs from one of the handicraft shops for his family. Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al-fayez, President and members of Petra Tourism and Development Authority, and his guide, Dr. Suleiman A.D. Al Farajat, professor of tourism at the University of Jordan, were there to greet and accompany him as he toured Petra.

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al Fayez highlighted the importance of President Obama’s visit to Petra on tourism in Jordan, and its role in emphasizing Petra’s position on the international tourism map. Furthermore, Al Fayez considered this visit a testimonial to the safety and security of Jordan amidst the turmoil in the region.

Petra has been visited by many royalties, presidents and celebrities. This national treasure has made many appearances on films and television, the most famous one to date has been Hollywood’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” starring Harrison Ford in 1989.

This rosy city is one of the world’s seven wonders, a UNESCO world heritage site and Jordan’s most famous tourist attraction. Petra continues to receive hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly, and expects many more this year. One should not only visit Petra for its amazing architecture and history, but also to witness the safety, hospitality and friendliness of the people of Jordan.

The ancient city of Petra is one of Jordan’s national treasures and is located about three hours south of Amman. Petra is the legacy of the Nabataens, an industrious Arab people who settled in southern Jordan more than 2000 years ago.

Although most of what can be seen at Petra today was built by the Nabataens, the area is known to have been inhabited from as early as 7000 to 6500 BC.
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Petra is sometimes called the ‘Lost City’. In spite of its being such an important city in antiquity, after the 14th century AD, Petra was completely lost to the western world. It was rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who tricked his way into the fiercely guarded site by pretending to be an Arab from India wishing to make a sacrifice at the tomb of the Prophet Aaron.

Jordan's national dish, called Mansaf, is a real delicacy. It consists of large chunks of tender lamb in a yoghurt-based sauce and is served with saffron-dyed rice. In a Bedouin home it is served in a large dish on a low table, around which family and guests are seated, and it is often eaten by using just the right hand - a serious challenge for most visitors!