Amman is a city of contrasts. A city of contradictions.
A city connected to the world, connected to its region.
A city that’s changing. Fast.
A young Arab capital in an
ancient setting. I see Amman
as young city with the
shadows of an ancient heart.
in ancient times as today..
Amman’s hills deﬁned its life..
it is a city of human scale.. of
stairs.. of small buildings..
and no overpowering
monuments or boulevards
Amman is an
accepting city.. a city
that, in the early
days, invented its
own traditions.. A city
of relative openness,
human initiative and
has roots. It is not like
the diversity of
Dubai, driven by
commerce. The old
Amman and its
downtown tell a story
of people coming
together for refuge
All of this could
make Amman a
capital of a new
Arab culture.. of a
A city of broken
pavements, with a
lack of respect for
A city who’s people
their civic duties
A city of dangerous
A city where many
are focused on
private space and
show of wealth, at
the expense of the
The story of today’s Amman is
just a little over 100 years
old,although the city’s roots go
back to ancient times.
(& 10,000 years ago)
It’s story is one of explosive
growth.. It’s population grew a
1,000 X in 100 years thousand times in 100 years
from 2500 to 2.5 million
And despite our occasional
NOT Damascus! pretension (in tourism
brochures) Amman is not a
traditional Arab city of souks
and mosques. It is really a
product of the 20th century.
Who calls himself Ammani?
It’s not an identity that has
sunken in with many people
yet. Can we name a
traditional Ammani dish? Do
we, As Amman’s citizens,
relate to our city like
And why is it that even in
our best commercial
districts, we tolerate
building leftovers and
empty ﬂowerpots on the
street just laying on the
pavement for months?
Half of Jordan’s population lives in Amman, but how much does
the capital contribute to Jordan’s national image? Jordan is
Petra. Amman is hardly on the map when tourism is
concerned. Social and political realities played a role in this,
but can Amman stay ignored in our psyche much longer?
Amman “works” as a place of habitation.
But is it a place that captures the
imagination? Is Amman destined to be a
big boring hotel?
Al Rasheed Jabal
I was not born in Amman I was born in
Karlsruhe, Germany. Came to Amman at age 6 in
1976. I am a product of Dahiet Al Rasheed suburb.
Shmeisani was the hangout place of our teenage
years.Studying in Al Hussein College took me to
Jabal Al Hussein and to wast al balad
But I only started
understanding Amman as a
student of architecture
around 1990 on the steps of
this old house in Jabal
Luweibdeh. This house, until a
few days ago was the ofﬁce of
Bilal Hammad, the well known
Jordanian, and I would say
Ammani, architect.. (he moved
to a new ofﬁce recently)
Dr Taleb Rifai Bilal Hammad
I owe my discovery of Amman to many people. But it was my teacher
Dr Taleb rifai who sparked it. He took our ﬁrst year architecture class
at the university of Jordan to discover, draw and document the old
houses of Amman in Jabal Amman and Jabal Luweibdeh. Dr Taleb was
already doing this in the mid 1980s when most people had absolutely
no problem demolishing the old houses of Jabal Amman. Bilal’s ofﬁce
was one of the stations of our trip and it was suddenly clear to me that
this city has a story and there are people with a deeper connection to
In 2008 I got my Amman
overdose, as my company
SYNTAX was chosen in an
international bid by the
Amman Municipality, to
create a city brand for the
It was over a year of TOTAL
engagement with a client I
couldn’t escape! How can
you escape your city?
Reading about it, writing
about it, walking, driving..
There’s no escape..
What’s Amman to you?
1 blog post. 60 comments.
So we started researching People’s perception of
Amman.. Of course we did survey’s, focus groups and
interviews, but we started on the web. I posted a
question on my blog asking: what is amman to you.
Dozens of people answered..
From love letters to hate mail
From the thoughtful to the impulsive
From the hopeful to the desperate..
1. A city that is not coherent!
2. A city where the quality of services is not
3. A city that has not preserved an ancient character
or developed a new one, I just cant ﬁnd one quality to
link it to. This city is still trying to ﬁnd its own soul.
1. Mountain into valley, valley into mountain.
2. Struggle for identity; old ﬁghting new, liberal
wrestling with conservative, hate versus love.
3. Refugee melting pot.
amjad mahfouz Says:
I’m a Jordanian, but i hate Amman for the following:
-too expensive to live in
-sex and social gap
-hard to get a decent income
-services are bullshit
-education sucks like hell
-ur a nobody if u don’t know anybody
-no fun or decent entertainment
-the list goes on and on
Beautiful Weather, Ugly people
Fresh Air and corrupt system
Authentic places and fake inhabitants
The Observer Says:
3. An old woman with a trendy outﬁt
Amman is a wreck that you don’t want to lose,
something not fully functional yet you hang on to it
like a lunatic and appreciate what it is to you as a
whole: a home
Ahmad Tarawneh Says:
1-My friends work there, so I hate it coz it’s what
keeps them away from me.
2-a lot of restaurants.
3-Cinema ”I live in irbid”.
4-Hot Chicks, Cool cars.
6-a place i pass by when i go to Karak.
9-civil engineering mistakes everywhere.
11-i just realized that i hate Amman so i am gonna stop
manal y Says:
- white, plain and jammed
- most people share the same attitude, just like how
building have the same facades
- and its more like a money melting pot.
Do you all know, about y’re writing? This town is not
built as a town, it was a nice small village, a selection
of houses, gardens at the ‘Amman-River’. How can a
town (and the inhabitants) be suddenly a capital,
without having the chance of a basic development like
the towns in Europe. So be patient, wait! After a while,
Amman will be something ‘special’, one of the
originals in this area!!
Amman to me….
....is a teenager, exploring a new look that might ﬁt,
trying out the other while rightfully ignoring
wisdom. It will inevitably grow up one day, and yes will
look back with some regrets, but hey, scars make for
....is a fearful place not loved enough by it’s people.
....seems to have misplaced it’s common sense.
Khawaja M. Says:
1- The small city with BIG hearts.
2- The city where I’d love to stay forever.
3- The most politically-stable Arab capital (from my
point of view)
old and modern, eastern and western in one city
Taxi Drivers, you can never ﬁnd them anywhere else
long stairs …
beautiful girls with attitude
Abu Al-Abed grocery next to your house …
Fayrouz at the balcony of your house early morning
Amman is my life, my world, my home and my
My ﬁrst day on earth
The ﬁrst time i heard the words “I love You”
My family, my friends and my work
My graduation day
My dreams and disappointments
My beginning and my end
After 22 years in North America, I decided to go back
and settle down in Amman next year, but please show
me some smiles and good manners when you drive.
Amman is a friend taken for granted …
At times you feel that you need a break from it but in
the end you know you can’t live without it ….
Samar Dudin Says:
Amman‘s identity is multi layered and diverse,
The old mountains of Amman reﬂect a humane
dimension in how the homes cluster how the diverse
social economic backgrounds gather…
Amman was a city of walks… a city of spiritual
I love Amman very much, and being here reminds me
of the good times we had in Bosnia before the war,
when I was a child living in a village where all doors of
the houses never were locked, where people prayed
and ate together.
People are divided about Amman
People have strong mixed feeling about it
Amman hangs in the balance.. and we, as Ammanis
(if we dare to call ourselves that) face a choice..
Things for Amman could go either way.. We can
choose to become a vibrant, diverse collage of
cultures and experiences? A city of open doors. Of
interaction. Of diversity.
Or a fragmented, divided and incoherent collection
of dwellings..Separated neighborhood for rich and
poor.. High security walls
It’s a choice between broken
pavements and disrespect for public
space.. Or a soulful, engaging city for
its citizens and visitors..
A choice between the boring safety of gated
communities in a segregated city..
Or the liveliness of real street life like what we see
in San Francisco and Barcelona and yes.. even Beirut
Photo by: dada2005 on Flickr.com:
Photo by: lokulin on Flickr.com: www.ﬂickr.com/photos/lokulin/2290050788/
The seeds and vision of
Re-imagine THIS Amman are already
Amman as an
The new Amman master
inclusive plan at the Amman
Municipality is based on
progressive such a vision..
Amman needs you, its
inﬂuencers, to embrace
ReDiscover Amman.. Know its story..
ReEngage Amman.. Participate in it
It’s not just the work of “the Amaneh”
or the government.
It’s not about what the “others” do
It’s what Ammanis choose to do.. how they
act on the street.. how they build their
houses.. how they run their businesses.
Every choice we make affects Amman as a