Tuesday, September 13, 2005

US helps preserve Muslim site in Jericho

USAID West Bank/Gaza

9 September 2005
Public Affairs Office:
Email: alitvak@usaid.gov

JERICHO, West Bank – The American people are funding a project to protect an important Islamic cultural heritage site known as Hisham’s Palace and to make it into a busy tourist center.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is contributing $1.3 million for the preservation of this rare archeological structure dating from the early Islamic period.
The one-year effort, implemented by ANERA’s Job Opportunities through Basic Services (JOBS), will improve the quality of life in the Jericho district, one of the least developed areas in the West Bank.
The construction of the different facilities at the site will alleviate high unemployment by creating about 250 jobs. A vast amount of the USAID contribution will be spent on wages used to pay for the preservation tasks.
The lasting economic gains for the 30,000 residents of Jericho are quite significant. The new tourist site is expected to attract 25,000 visitors annually bringing income to the municipality and countless business owners.
A professional team of architects and planners will protect and facilitate tourists’ access to the unique baths, mosques and colonnaded courts of Hisham’s Palace, which was a country residence of the Arab-Umayyad dynasty that ruled large areas stretching from India to France.
The mosaics and stucco ornaments, fine examples of early Islamic art, will be preserved under the supervision of Al-Quds University Institute of Islamic Archeology and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Hisham’s Palace holds one of the most beautiful mosaics in the word known as the Tree of Life.
The USAID funded project encourages the increasing development efforts in the West Bank and Gaza done under the newly elected democratic leadership.
USAID has spent more than $1.7 billion in the West Bank and Gaza to combat poverty, create jobs, improve education, build roads and water systems, construct and equip medical clinics, and promote good governance.