Tank museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks opens in Jordan

A family looks at a display of tanks at the Royal Tank Museum in Amman, Jordan. (AP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Tank museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks opens in Jordan

AMMAN: A museum displaying 110 battle-worn tanks from a century of wars in the Middle East and from more distant conflicts has opened in Jordan.
Curators at the Royal Tank Museum collected armored vehicles over the past decade, including some that served in both sides of the Iran-Iraq war and in the conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the Golan Heights, Jordan and Jerusalem.
Other contributions came from faraway places, such as Azerbaijan, Morocco, Taiwan and Brunei. Most of the museum’s tanks were made in America, reflecting Jordan’s long-running alliance with the US. Some pieces reached Jordan in a particularly roundabout way, including a World War II-era German tank used by the Nazis in North Africa. A swastika-in-palm-tree stencil marks it as one of the German Africa Corps’ fleet of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. The Syrians had bought the tank in the 1950s from Czechoslovakia and deployed it against Israel, then gave it to Jordan in 2009.
“The museum is telling the story of the world through the history of tanks,” said the museum’s General Manager Maher Tarawneh.
The museum, the second in the region after Israel’s Yad La-Shiryon, opened last week.
On a recent morning, hundreds of Jordanians lined up outside to be led through the museum by guides, many of them army veterans.
The 20,000-square-meter space also includes exhibits of historic battles in Syria, Jerusalem and Jordan, with loudspeakers blaring gunfire, roars of diesel engines, and fiery patriotic speeches. Life-size replicas of soldiers staff turrets as tank treads menace intricately crafted shrubs.
Dangling from a massive sky-light is a Cobra attack helicopter, of the type flown by Jordan’s King Abdullah.
The king decreed the creation of the museum in 2007, launching the acquisition process led by chief curator Hamdan Smairan. The retired major general who commanded the Jordan military’s armored corps began by reaching out to his contacts.
The world’s tank museums supported the venture. The Tank Museum in Dorset, England and the Imperial War Museum in London provided curatorial counsel. Museums in the Czech Republic and France exchanged tanks for Jordanian tanks.
An old friend of Smairan’s lobbied South Africa successfully for the museum’s World War II-era British Crusader tank.
Russia and Kazakhstan gave tanks to Jordan’s king who then added them to the collection, the curator said.
Most of the museum’s tanks were made in America, reflecting Jordan’s long-running alliance with the US. Along with World War II-era Sherman and Tiger tanks, there are also Soviet and Chinese models.
The museum also illustrates Jordan’s history.
An armored vehicle used in the revolt rotates on a dais in the museum. It is followed by tank exhibits telling the story of Jordan in subsequent battles, including the Mideast wars of 1967 and 1973.
The museum will eventually open an exhibition field and offer rides on tanks outside on site.


In Jordan’s ancient Petra, sirens warn of flash floods

Updated 23 min 5 sec ago
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In Jordan’s ancient Petra, sirens warn of flash floods

  • Earlier this month, sirens blared minutes before a torrent fed by heavy rains approached the UNESCO World Heritage site
  • The last fatal flash flood struck Petra in 1963 when 22 French tourists and a local guide were killed by rapidly rising waters

PETRA, Jordan: In ancient times, Arab tribesmen dug diversion tunnels to protect their low-lying trading post of Petra against desert flash floods. More than two millennia later, an alarm system warns visitors if flood water rushes toward what has become Jordan’s main tourist attraction.
Earlier this month, the alarms were activated for the first time, said Hussein Al-Hasanat of the Petra Development & Tourism Region Authority. Sirens blared minutes before a torrent fed by heavy rains approached the UNESCO World Heritage site carved into rose-hued rock face.
Hundreds of tourists were able to seek higher ground and were later evacuated, he said.
Amateur video posted online at the time showed visitors running through a steep, narrow canyon leading to the Treasury, Petra’s main draw, as guides urged them to hurry. Later, visitors were seen standing on a higher patch near the Treasury as knee-high water poured through the canyon.
Elsewhere in Jordan, such alarms are still missing. Thirty-four people were killed in flash floods in late September and early November.
The last fatal flash flood struck Petra in 1963 when 22 French tourists and a local guide were killed by rapidly rising waters. In response, Jordan’s Department of Antiquities built a dam to keep water from entering the canyon leading to the Treasury.
In 2014, the alarm system was installed as added protection, with sirens set to go off when flood water rises above four meters (yards).
On Nov. 9, the system was triggered for the first time, through a computer in the Petra Authority’s control room. The computer is connected to eight rain forecast systems and two water detection stations placed in the area, within 8 kilometers (5 miles) of Petra.
The network generates instant data allowing officials to measure possible danger and warn people by the time the water reaches Petra.
Omar Dajani, a meteorologist at the Arabia Weather company, said alarms should be installed in all vulnerable areas in Jordan.
He said urban sprawl has exacerbated the flood risk, which is particularly high in dry areas.
“Now towns have spread so much and many of them were not built with respect for the geography of the region, such as valleys for example, where the water has naturally caused floods for millions of years,” Dajani said.