On the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to 40 A.D.). Masters of water technology, the Nabataeans provided their city with great tunnel constructions and water chambers.
A theater, modelled on Greek-Roman prototypes, had space for an audience of 4,000. Today, the Palace Tombs of Petra, with the 42-meter-high Hellenistic temple facade on the El-Deir Monastery, are impressive examples of Middle Eastern culture.
To celebrate the rose-red city of Petra’s candidacy, the magnificent buildings carved into the cliffs came alive today as they were 2,000 years ago. A bustling Nabatean marketplace in front of the famous treasury portal was the setting for the handover ceremony.
Accompanied by the echo of a flute through the deep, narrow Siq canyon, a camel procession and a galloping Arabian steed announced the arrival of Jordan’s beloved Queen Rania al-Abdullah. Riding on a camel, Bernard Weber approached Her Majesty in the center of the square, dismounted and presented her with the certificate.
In the presence of Jordan’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Mr. Osama Dabbas, and the Managing Director of the Jordan Tourism Board, Mr. Mazen Homoud, Queen Rania thanked Bernard Weber and noted that, “We Jordanians are proud to be the custodians of the stunning heritage of the Nabatean people.”
She continued: “Indeed, we feel that many of our modern Jordanian national characteristics are notably similar to those of the ancient Nabateans.
Like them, we have carved out a special and unique role as a bridge between diverse regions and cultures.
And like them, we are a peaceful culture committed to international commerce and dialogue. The magical rose-red city of Petra is like nothing else on earth. It is a remarkable testimony to the human spirit, etched for all time in sandstone and shale.”
After the handover, the crowd, which included close to a hundred international journalists, proceeded down to the ancient amphitheater to watch an impressive Roman legion military demonstration and several thrilling rounds of gladiator battles.
In the morning, before the Nabatean re-enactment, the New7Wonders hot-air balloon rose in the square in front of the treasury.
The breathtaking sight of the blue balloon hovering close to the huge pink pillars awed everyone present – it was surely the first time ever that a hot-air balloon was flown in the ancient Nabatean city.