18th – 20th March 2019

by Nebras Maslamani

In March 2019, team members of “Our Past, Our Future, all together in Faynan – OPOF” visited Faynan and Greigra, where OPOF will be implemented during the next 20 months. The main goal was to engage, connect, and collaborate with the regional community members to work together on making OPOF a success. Meetings with the regional community were held to discuss their main needs, and how OPOF could contribute in engaging them in the museum. Key community members in Wadi Faynan attended the meetings and participated to discuss what could potentially be established in the region and how we can develop the museum in a way that will benefit them.

Most of the local community members emphasised the need for sustainable outcomes from all the projects held in the region to alleviate poverty by providing opportunities.

There are many creative people with tangible skills in the regional community, with the right training, tools, and opportunities, they will definitely act above expectations.” said Egab Al’amareen, Mayor of Faynan and Algraygra Municipality.

One meeting discussed the value of placing information boards close to the archaeological sites to create a ‘heritage trail’ for visitors to Faynan. This was thought to be of considerable value and work began to plan these by identifying key sites and a route for the trail.

Another meeting was held with the school committees from the six local schools. This allowed the OPOF team to better understand the main challenges the community is facing and to better support Faynan schools.

One of the main challenges raised during the meetings was lack of awareness among young people about their local cultural heritage. Several discussions were held about the school curriculum taught to students from primary school to high school, in addition to discussions around establishing an educational facility in the museum, and the significant role that teachers can play in providing quality education for students.

Other challenges were the difficulty teachers are facing to engage students in educational activities due to the vast amount of information that must be taught in their school. As such, students lose their interest in learning anything new during their school trips. These challenges also raised opportunities and ideas of how to make educational trips and museum visits fun and valuable for students, which were shared during these discussions.

Algraygra and Faynan are rich with cultural heritage and archaeological sites. Due to negligence, the local community is suffering from poverty and a high unemployment rate, which makes people focus only on how to provide their basic needs, and therefore the community lacks belonging to the region. OPOF will work towards empowering the community regionally and globally in Eco-tourism by providing them with quality education and raise awareness, as described in one of OPOF strands, by establishing cultural activities, developing teachers’ skills in the schools, and opening an education facility inside the museum. In addition to engaging them in their history, stories, and shared identity through the development of the museum and the surrounding area.

Further meetings discussed representing the local communities own view of their history in the museum using textiles and artworks.