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Jordan’s Queen Rania meets youth and women’s groups driving local initiatives in Wadi Musa

AMMAN: Jordan’s Queen Rania visited Ma’an, a town in Wadi Musa, on Tuesday where she met the founders and beneficiaries of programs that aim to encourage local economic empowerment, and some of the young people spearheading local initiatives.

They included Yousef Falahat, the founder of Thakafat, an organization that provides opportunities for financial empowerment by connecting members of the community with tourists looking for an “authentic” experience of the country, the Jordan News Agency reported.

Thakafat’s projects, the majority of which are led by women, offer visitors the chance to learn more about the area and its people by spending time with locals and taking part in traditional activities such as cooking and crafting.

Anmar Jbour, a member of Thakafat’s team, told the queen about the inspiration for the organization’s initiatives and its plans to expand to As-Salt and Madaba. Others explained how they launched their own initiatives.

Queen Rania then visited Esraa Kitchen, a Thakafat initiative that introduces tourists to Jordanian cuisine by allowing them to sample local fare and help prepare it. To date, it has hosted more than 4,200 visitors from 32 countries, in the process providing part-time work for local women.

The queen also toured the Nabataean Ladies Cooperative in Wadi Musa. Founded in 1999, it aims to revive and preserve the Bedouin art of making silver jewelry, offer a “unique” tourist experience, and provide employment opportunities for local women. It previously received a grant from the Jordan River Foundation, which helped it train 26 people in the craft and purchase machinery and raw materials. The cooperative’s president, Fawziyeh Hasanat, and other board members showed the royal visitor its silver jewelry workshop and showroom.

Queen Rania later visited Abu Elias restaurant, which serves traditional Jordanian cuisine, and met young people from across Ma’an who work to create and expand community-empowerment projects.

Their initiatives include projects devoted to the arts, environmental awareness, translation and typing, chocolate making and molding, and voluntary work that helps families in need by providing assistance packages and renovating homes.

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