al-Hima supports archaeological research at the Mamluke Sugar press and ancient city of Zoara. Extracting sugar from sugar cane originated over 2,500 years ago in south-east Asia. In the 9th century AD the Arabs learnt the methodology and by the 14th century developed it into a large-scale industry based in the Jordan and Nile river valleys. Major advances in science, medicine and technology were consequentially made. Great wealth was generated from the international trade of this new sugar product. Eventually the Sugar Industry took roots in Europe and America, leading to the industrial revolution.
The focus of the current archaeological project is ancient Zughar (mentioned by Maqdissi as a commercial city in Bilad al-Sham second in importance only to Damascus and Bosra). In order to complete the study of the Origins of the Sugar Industry, a second phase of the field project is being launched. Its objectives will be to finish excavating the sugar factory at Safi and expose more of the commercial city where the sugar product was marketed. The results of this will be the first industrial archaeology project in the Middle East.
al-Hima is implementing UNESCO's project entitled "Empowering Rural Women in the Jordan Valley: Handicraft production at Ghor al-Safi." The project integrates a nationwide assessment of the handicrafts industry with a close assessment of the capacities of the Ghor al-Safi Women's Cooperative to develop a business and marketing plan, and to improve the quality of their current handicrafts products. In December, 2014, we will organize a convention of Jordanian handicrafts producers in Ghor al-Safi, with the intent that the various producers can learn from each other and cooperate to promote their respective crafts. In November 2015 Ghor al-Safi will host a nationwide handicrafts fair to launch their palette of new products.
In parallel with this effort, during 2014-2015 al-Hima will begin an initiative to develop healthy food concessions in Ghor al-Safi, to serve travelers between Amman, the Dead Sea and Aqaba. al-Hima will be working to develop organic farms, adapting the model used for the Conservation of Tradtional Crops Project.