August 06, 2017

‘Meditation tourism’ a new trend in Jordan

Tourists meditate at Wadi Rum in southern Jordan. (Provided by Roufan Nahhas)

Amman - From Petra to Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea, Jordan boasts some of the world’s most spiritual and mysti­cal sites but young tourism professionals are seeking to expand the menu of the kingdom’s attrac­tions to include the new trend of “meditation tourism.”
Meditation tourism was intro­duced in Jordan in 2014 by the Jor­dan Meditation Club (JMC), whose founder Nyazi Shaaban is a medita­tion and yoga adept.
“I always had this dream of mak­ing Jordan one of the world’s medi­tation tourism spots,” Shaaban said. “In 2007, I was practising medita­tion and started working on placing Jordan on the (global) meditation map… so far it is working well and people are joining with full positive energy.”
“Jordan has many locations that can be spiritual. Meditation is all about positive energy, spiritual­ism and maintaining balance in our lives and thus Jordan is the right place for meditators to be, especial­ly in places such as the Dead Sea, Petra and Wadi Rum.”
The JMC founder and his team are tourism professionals with ex­tensive practical expertise. “We work with certified meditation and yoga practitioners and soul healers gifted with a passion for enriching human souls,” he said.
Shabaan said Jordan was ready to embrace meditation as a tourism product. His club started organis­ing meditation tours more than two years ago.
“We had thousands of Jordanians joining our first classes and trips. In the beginning, we made it compli­mentary to spread awareness about this type of tourism but now it is all paid for with special programmes. So far, we also had more than 500 foreigners joining us, mostly fe­males,” he said.
Explaining why meditation adepts in Jordan are mostly women Shaaban said: “Our Arab culture stands as an obstacle for men be­cause we are not accustomed to expressing ourselves, while medi­tation is all about letting it all out, expressing your feelings and even crying… in our culture men don’t usually cry or at least are shy to do so.”
A maximum of 50 people are ac­cepted per class and programmes are offered spanning a day or two in March, April, May, September, Oc­tober and November.
“In September, we will launch the Jordan meditation camp with the participation of many yoga adepts and meditation clubs from all over the world. We hope that this will constitute a positive con­tribution to tourism in Jordan,” Shaaban added.
Nabeeh Reyal, a businessman who has been practising yoga and meditation abroad, said he was happy to have the chance to enroll in his favourite activity at home.
“I am passionate about medita­tion since I had the chance to try it in India and Thailand. The Jordan Meditation Club provides a good opportunity for those who are in­terested in this practice, which brings overwhelming feelings of joy and happiness to our inner self,” Reyal said.
More effort should be made by the authorities to market medita­tion tourism, he said.
“Marketing such a product means marketing the country itself,” he said. “The authorities should invest more in spreading awareness about meditation tourism inside and outside Jordan and I am sure tour­ists will be more attracted to come here.”
A day trip to the Dead Sea or Pe­tra, including transportation and a 2-hour meditation class costs about $150.
“This is relatively cheap when you think of the joy and beautiful scenery in addition to experiencing meditation at sunset; the feeling is really amazing,” he said.
Lina Yousef is also passionate about yoga and has participated in JMC’s classes.
“I practise yoga on a weekly ba­sis. It helps me clear my mind about the things I need in life and I am sure there are many who would like to try it and experience it but don’t know where to go,” Yousef said. “More marketing should be considered when something new is offered such as a meditation club.”
Tourism in Jordan picked up in 2016 and in the first quarter of 2017, with 48,724 tourist groups visiting the country in the first two months this year compared to 26,500 groups in the same period last year.
In 2016, 465,000 tourists visited Petra, 235km south of Amman, compared to about 400,000 visi­tors in 2015 while 105,000 tourists visited Wadi Rum, 328km south of Amman, a 60% increase from 2015.
With its many sites perfect for meditation and yoga, Jordan offers an opportunity to be in touch with the elements of nature and oneself. Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea, the stage for many of history’s most momentous dramas, can become among the best meditation tourism destinations.

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