Designed by Prof. Isaac Meir and his team, experts in green building from BGU’s Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Project Wadi Attir’s Visitor, Training, and Education Center includes classrooms, research facilities, an exhibition area, and offices, and will soon have its very own restaurant, as well as a gift shop for selling farm products.
The eco-tourism program introduces visitors to important ecological issues and demonstrates sound practices involving careful resource management, recycling, the use of alternative energy sources and the importance of locally grown products.
Currently, the project welcomes hundreds of local and international visitors monthly, including groups from the academic, government, business, civil society and social sectors.
Visitors are also being introduced to Bedouin society, tradition and culture through meals, lectures, workshops, volunteer opportunities, informal discussions and personal stories.
In time, Project Wadi Attir will be a celebrated stop on most tours to Israel, replacing the obligatory “Bedouin tent” experience with one of perception-changing depth and relevance.
This onsite cultural exchange, as well as programming that integrates Bedouin and Jewish student groups, is helping to promote shared society values in the Negev region and in the country as a whole.
Project Wadi Attir’s Student Research and Volunteer Program is providing essential educational courses, services, and facilities to hundreds of Bedouin high school students that were previously unavailable.
The site itself offers educational opportunities that do not exist together in one place anywhere else in the country—particularly as it relates to Bedouin culture and development, sustainable desert agriculture, and resource management—and diverse students of all ages are taking part.
The project’s Beekeeping Initiative uses the onsite apiary as a prism for exploring a number of ecological, biological and agricultural processes. Through the process of caring for the hive and harvesting its honey, students of all ages learn about the symbiotic relationships that sustain the beehive, the different roles of the bees in the hive and more.
Through engagement with the beehives, students also learn about the nutritional value of harvesting honey, contextualizing it within the growing challenge of food security.
The project’s educational programs have the support of researchers from Ben-Gurion University, who have worked together with The Sustainability Laboratory to design the site’s Integrated Green Technology Systems, and the AMAL Education Network, which has a total enrollment of over 40,000 students of all ages around the country. Partners consult on curriculum and student research projects.
The project also trains local educators and administrators to effectively teach “sustainability” and eco-literacy.