How could an open-air exhibition improve tourists’ experience in Madaba?

By Ayah Younis, Head of Exploration and Abdullah Bostaji, Communications Assistant, UNDP Jordan Accelerator Lab

February 15, 2023

Since June 2022, the UNDP Jordan Accelerator Lab has been exploring, mapping, and experimenting with knowledge and solutions that could improve tourism in Madaba while creating income for the local community. We collected qualitative data typically unavailable to decision-makers. In this series, we will share the learning from these activities. 

Madaba, a city rich in history and culture, faces a problem common to many tourist destinations: a need for evening and night activities for visitors. This has lowered room occupancy as tourists opt for cities with a broader range of activities. However, a new solution is in the works to enhance visitors' experience in Madaba and increase the city's appeal.

Shababuna Ezwieh, a newly established youth empowerment, digitalisation, and tourism non-profit company, proposes a solution to this problem. The youth-led company has come up with the idea of building an open-air exhibition showcasing Madaba's intangible culture and heritage. This exhibition will be accessible to all visitors through boxes installed in the public streets. Each box has a topic and tells a story of Madaba's cultural experience. We hope this exhibition will excite tourists to complete a self-guided tour around Madaba and encourage them to reach providers of these cultural experiences, leading to more time and money spent during their visit.


Reveal Madaba box topics

The first phase of this experiment, known as "Reveal Madaba," will be implemented in five locations with the primary objective of collecting feedback from tourists on this concept and enhancing the touristic experience of Madaba's heritage trail. 

Shababuna Ezwieh, supported by the Accelerator Lab, has already coordinated with high-level officials to ensure their endorsement of the project and has collected feedback on elements such as location, branding, and content. The youth-led company has also worked with the Accelerator Lab to get approval from the Madaba municipality to install the exhibition boxes in public areas and with the Madaba Directorate of Tourism to place the first box in the Madaba visitor center.

Each outdoor box is designed to speak about an intangible element of Madaba's heritage,  a narrative to provide more information about the intangible heritage element, an interactive part such as touching a mosaic piece or using the mih-bash, and a rating device to give feedback on the experience. Tourists can read and touch the various elements and expand their knowledge by scanning a QR code that takes them to a website with videos and more information about the box's content.


Fabricating Reveal Madaba boxes

In conclusion, the "Reveal Madaba" project is a promising solution to the problem of a lack of evening and night activities for tourists in Madaba. It aims to enhance visitors' experience by showcasing the city's rich culture and heritage and to increase the city's appeal by making the information accessible interactively and educationally. The project is currently in the installation phase. After the installation, the Accelerator Lab and Shababuna Ezwieh will run several evaluation activities to see how the exhibition experience was and how it can be improved. We will update this blog post or release a second one with the experiment’s results. Stay tuned!

Reveal Madaba boxes:

  1. Faces of Madaba: an introduction about the exhibition and Madaba.
  2. From Madaba to London: about Madaba, the city of mosaic and the mosaic craftsmanship.
  3. Our musical notes: are about coffee-making traditions among the bedouins and the mih-bash.
  4. Bani Hameedah's Prints: about rug making by the Bani Hameedah’s women.
  5. Bedouin Branding: about the cattle branding among the bedouin tribes.
  6. Harvesting in Madaba: about harvesting culture in Madaba and some food recipes from the governorate. 
  7. You completed the tour!: a box to take a picture with upon completing the tour.

Sample of the designs on boxes