National Assessment of the State of Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in Jordan

Full Report - PDF File  النسخة العربية

Executive Summary

·   In Jordan, there is official government interest in intangible cultural heritage (ICH), and there are certain institutions and organizations that work to develop ICH. However, Jordan’s efforts are not coordinated, and there is little awareness at most societal levels about the importance of ICH

·   Future efforts to strengthen ICH require increased government attention, improved coordination, and increased engagement with the public by additional focus on ICH in education and the media

Key Findings

Current ICH Infrastructure

·   Jordan’s National Strategy emphasizes the vital importance of cultural heritage to political, economic, and social development. To these ends, Jordan ratified in 2007 the Cultural Diversity Convention, which resulted in the formation of an ICH committee

·   A key ICH project in Jordan was conducted in 2005 by UNESCO on the cultural space of the Bedouins in Petra and Wadi Rum

·   Certain educational institutions, such as centers within The Hashemite University, The King Hussein bin Talal University, and The Middle East University offer university training in ICH-related matters, but these are few programs

·   Certain government institutions, such as the Municipality of Greater Amman, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Education, Municipality of Municipal and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Culture, are the key public sector actors in the ICH preservation field

·   There is no central documentation authority to maintain existing archives and secure new items for ICH. Responsibility for such efforts is split between the Department of the National Library, universities, assorted government ministries, and assorted civil society organizations. The current ICH inventory includes 2010 works from 155 different authors

·   The existing mandate for ICH activity is found in the 2006 Safeguarding Culture Act and Act 21 of 1988, which empower the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism, respectively. A more efficient mechanism could be achieved by passing a general ICH law

·   ICH items in urgent need of safeguarding include tribal music and instruments, tribal jurisprudence, popular isophony of rural areas, traditional medicine and healers, and folkloric poetry

·   Jordan has signed 61 international agreements and executive programs to promote ICH with the most recent cooperation with neighboring countries such as Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Tunisia, and Egypt


Structural Challenges to ICH Preservation

·   Jordan’s ICH efforts are conducted by individual institutions often without coordination, and are scattered in different aspects of ICH. There is also weak engagement with the private sector, as most efforts are conducted at the governmental, organizational, or educational level

·   There is an absence of legislation, funding, and subject matter experts to address ICH and work to develop it

·   Efforts to target youth are weak, and younger generations are becoming less concerned with ICH, in part because education at all levels does not emphasize its importance

·   The media, both official and private, has focused on modern art, and modern heritage at the expense of traditional heritage promotion

ICH Preservation Considerations

·   ICH efforts risk commoditizing cultural heritage, due to income-generating efforts to lift rural populations out of poverty

·   Inventorying ICH is challenging, due to materials in different languages from ethnic minorities in Jordan and certain items that may have had more impact or significance than others. ICH inventorying should not discriminate on these grounds

·   ICH should exclude items that advocate religious fanaticism, apartheid, mutilation, or severely harms other groups, per Article 2 of the Convention

·   ICH promotion should be conducted with respect for the local identities, with care to present items in a way that do not misrepresent the culture

Recommended Actions and Initiatives

Address Structural Challenges

·   Create a unified official body to coordinate ICH promotion, which includes collection, documentation, awareness raising, training, promotion, and safeguarding. This body should also create a comprehensive database on all relevant ICH materials and information

·   Identify benchmark countries and develop similar legislative framework to maintain ICH

·   Create a public-private partnerships to support a national library and specialized ICH centers

·   Use modern techniques to document ICH, and engage with all forms of media to publicize developments in ICH

·   Develop a country-wide culture of ICH by calling on educational institutions at all levels, especially higher education, to include ICH materials in curricula. Invite Jordanian society to preserve their heritage by participating in festivals and attending exhibitions

·   Strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Culture with the administrative, legal, and financial resources and specialized personnel to be able to implement initiatives related to ICH

Address the Convention of Intangible Cultural Heritage

·   Create an administrative body to address safeguarding policies and ethical concerns, with input from advisory bodies composed of researches, NGOs, civil society, and community representatives 


Report Name



National Assessment of the State of Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in Jordan


Not Relevant


Supporting Donor





Lead Ministry

Cultural Preservation and Heritage

Ministry of Culture

Key Topics

Cultural Diversity Convention – Educational curriculum – General Intangible Cultural Heritage Law – Heritage Preservation – Intangible Cultural Heritage Promotion – International cooperation– Media Campaigns – Private Sector Engagement – Public-Private Partnerships – Youth Engagement


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