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The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, situated at 417 meters below sea level, is one of the finalists in the new competition of the seven great wonders of the world. In a show or cooperation and support, the Tourism Ministries of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority individually signed the official supporting papers for candidacy of the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is also known as the Sea of Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities which were destroyed in Gen 19:1-29. There is nothing in the lake that breathes life, no fish or animal or any moving waters.
In 2007, the level of the Dead Sea was minus 421, almost the lowest in the last 2,000 years and each year the lake claims to be shrinking by 3 feet. More than 90 percent of the water from the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers that once fed the Dead Sea is now diverted to meet agreicutlural, industrial and tourist demands. the sea has no exit and water is lost due to evaporation.
The New 7 Wonders of Nature competition was launched in 2007 with about 440 sites from 220 countries (more than those competing in the Olympics). The Megillot Dead Sea Regional Council proposed the candidacy of the Dead Sea for the competition in order to promote tourism to the region and raise public awareness around the world of the problems facing the sea, which has lost about one meter in height every year for the past 30 years, mainly from the effects of restricting the flow of the River Jordan at the Degania Dam.
Other contenders for the title of New 7 Wonder of Nature include the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, the Galapagos Islands, Niagara Falls, Kilimanjaro Mountains, the Black Forest, the Maldives Islands and many more in seven different categories.
Another Holy Land site, Wadi Rum, was added to UNESC's World Heritage List this summer. The majestic site is situated in mountainous desert terrain in souther Jordan near the border with Saudi Arabia and encompasses over 275 square miles of majestic, mountainous desert including spectacular sand dunes, sheer-sided mountains and dramatic cliffs. The Red Rose Nabatean City of Petra is located close to the Wadi Rum Nature Reserve.
The area is considered part of the ancient Nabatean trade route which leads across southern Jordan west through Israel and into Egypt. The landscape is marked by sandstone and granite mountains, wide valleys and narrow and deep canyons. Most remarkably, jidden within the canyons are numerous ancient rock drawings and inscriptions dating to the Nabataans who controlled the major trade route. In selecting Wadi Rum, the UNESCO website states that:
"Petroglyphs, inscriptions and archaeological remains in the site testify to 12,000 years of human occupation and interaction with the natural environment. The combination of 25,000 rock carvings with 20,000 inscriptions trace the evolution of human thought and the early development of the alphabet. The site illustrates the evolution of pastoral, agricultural and urban activity in the region."
Biblical and classical sources refer to "aram". The book of Job also mentions the land of Uz, which many believe refers to the area as well.
Traveling through Wadi Rum, one still encounters Bedouin tribes that still live in their goat-hair tents and in fact, many of the local bedouins are licensed tour guides. The protected area is one of Jordan's top tourist attractions including sites dating from the prehistoric periods to the Islamic era. Particularly prominent are inscriptions and carvings dating to the time of the Nabataean kingdom of Petra,* which controlled the trade routes that passed through the region more than 2,000 years ago. Rum is referred to, both in the Bible and classical sources, as Aram or Iram, while it may also be the land of Uz mentioned in the book of Job (1:1).
For more information on 3 and 2 day tours to Jordan and Wadi Rum-Petra, click here.
For additional information on UNESCO World Heritage sites, click here.