Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Young woman in As-Salt prepares to launch a unique painting and henna experience for visitors

25 Sep 2019

Balqees is a university student from As-Salt with a passion for painting and henna. Over the past few years, she has worked as a freelance henna artist and sold her paintings at events. When the city of As-Salt asked the community to bring forth business ideas to engage visitors and share heritage, Balqees decided to launch a hands-on artistic experience for visitors to As-Salt. With assistance from the Salt Development Corporation and USAID BEST, Balqees refined her unique business idea and set up a space of her own. In the coming months, tourists will be able to view her artwork, learn about the culture and history of henna, receive a henna tattoo, enjoy local refreshments, and paint their pillowcase or t-shirt.

Balqees is hopeful about the development of As-Salt, her shop, and creating opportunity for others. She says, “While you can go to beauty salons to get henna, until now there has not been a shop dedicated to henna specifically to share our cultural heritage with visitors. Someday, my goal is that all cultural heritage locations in As-Salt will have a ‘Balqees Henna’ corner. I feel this would open work opportunities for women and girls, and that this project would help them as it has helped me.”

Balqees is one of several grant recipients in the city of As-Salt. From restaurants to pottery studios, Balqees and other grant recipients are leaders in their communities in contributing to the development of As-Salt as an attractive and unique tourist destination.

In December 2016, As-Salt was chosen as Jordan’s first Distinctive Destination, a program implemented by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and supported by USAID BEST to transforming cities with tourism potential into attractive destinations, in coordination with local municipalities and communities. Efforts are underway to develop compelling tourism experiences in As-Salt to attract visitors and enhance the local economy.