I'm interested in buying some land probably in Portugal or South Spain, on land which is pretty dry, but not super dry. Typically Olive plantations, which may have had irrigation.
Beyond the famous examples of Geoff Lawtons 'Greening the Desert' or those examples highlighted by John D Liu. Can anybody link to other projects, ideally in Ibera, that have been impressive? small scale is fine. I want to understand how much is possible in turning around the land. Ideally some beautiful before and after pictures!
You should be aware that because of high unemployment, people are using every patch of land to grow food . I know of several people in the south of Spain who cannot find plots for love nor money. If anyone is selling, prices are likely to ge very high at the moment so give it some thought. Up this end, although we have wet springs, one can grow olives (plantations within 0.5 km) and heading down into Ourense and Pontevedra provinces it is possible to grow citrus. Although we get a lot of rain, it takes some careful management and for the last 2 years we had severe drought even though we flood out every winter. If you wanted to do some land reclamation, consider southern Galicia.
To lead a tranquil life, mind your own business and work with your hands.
Were I am, in Castelo Branco, Portugal, the prices are very cheap (that's why I bought here), but it all depends, it's just a matter of searching.
Regarding your question, it has more to do with what you do with the land. Iberia is not comparable to Jordan because Jordan get's very little rainfall, we don't. It's very hot and dry here in the Summer that is true, but it also rains a lot every Winter and Spring (it's June and it's been raining almost every day since February) so it's more about water management and storage than water scarcity.
Most pieces of land here will have a well or a spring or both. I only have a well and it has water all year round. Right now I'm building a water tank and a pond to store more water and I've also done swales. I'm trying to create a forest garden and, as trees get bigger my land will have more shade and more mulch making it a lot cooler and more moist.
There are a lot abandoned and neglected farms around here with lots of fruit trees and plants heavy with fruit and nobody waters them for years and they still thrive, and I'm not talking about cactus but apples, citrus, figs, pears, cherries, grapes, etc.
Lucky for you the book has already been written about successful permaculture in the region you are interested in! Sepp Holzer's book Desert or Paradise profiles two successful greening the desert restoration projects in arid regions of Iberia: one in Tamera, Portugal and the other in Extremadura, Spain. This book is a short read, but life changing as far as its coverage of practically understanding greening the desert "Holzer permaculture". It also contains beautiful before & after pictures that I do not have the rights to publish here. Support Sepp, buy his books!
Here's a short video about Sepp's work at Tamera: