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Boj V2

Boj V2



Jordan’s business, investment, art and tourism facets are landscaped in the finest publishing model held in your hands. ‘Best of Jordan’ showcases companies of positive contributions to the ...

Jordan’s business, investment, art and tourism facets are landscaped in the finest publishing model held in your hands. ‘Best of Jordan’ showcases companies of positive contributions to the country at large, and individuals whose entrepreneurial endeavors left inspirational marks on the society. In each chapter, we highlight the figures who interlace to ultimately form the versatile sectors of Jordan.



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    Boj V2 Boj V2 Document Transcript

    • FOREWORD International Group Publisher Sven Boermeester Publisher & Managing Group Editor Lisa Durante Publisher Imad Abdel Hadi Welcome to ‘Best of Jordan’ General Manager Ammar Abdel Hadi vol. 2, where the Kingdom’s Project Manager Jamileh Kharouba achievers are brought Account Manager Diala Abu Jaber together to tell their colorful Editor stories to the world. Mirna Khalfawi Senior Writer Sameh Abu Jarur In this unique publication, Jordan’s business, investment, art and tourism Creative Director facets are landscaped in the finest publishing model held in your hands. ‘Best Rami Delshad of Jordan’ showcases companies of positive contributions to the country at large, and individuals whose entrepreneurial endeavors left inspirational marks Design & Layout on the society. In each chapter, we highlight the figures who interlace to AbdelHadi Advertising & Marketing ultimately form the versatile sectors of Jordan. Printing National Press Through vibrant visuals and perceptive editorials, this fresh second volume Contact details demonstrates the innovation of the people who endorse Jordan’s rapid socio- AbdelHadi Advertising & Marketing economic developments with wholehearted passion. The diverse entities we Tel: +962 6 5660780 reveal share the denominator of strengthening the Kingdom’s foundation, as it Fax: +962 6 5660781 inches closer to the heart of the global community by the day. info@bestofjordan.net Website As part of ‘Global Village Partnerships’ that build global business networks via www.globalvillageproduct.com qualitative, annual books, the participants of ‘Best of Jordan’ automatically link Published by to world readership that is braced by niche distribution internationally. AbdelHadi Advertising & Marketing Under franchise license from Whether as a corporate gift or an engaging addition to your world business Global Village Partnerships Ltd. references, ‘Best of Jordan’ is an ideal exposé of the country’s dynamic Disclaimer contribution and pulsating presence in the region. In the forthcoming pages, Every effort has been made to ensure the you’ll gain an exciting insight into the momentous aspects which play a key accuracy of the information in the Best of role in driving Jordan to the summits of success. Jordan vol. 2 publication. Neither Best of Jordan nor Global Village Partnerships Ltd. take any responsibility for errors or omissions. Browse Jordan at its best! All rights reserved No part of this publication shall be reproduced, copied, transmitted, adapted or modified in any form or by any means. This publication shall not be stored in whole or in part in any form in any retrieval system. 4 Best of Jordan
    • Team ‘Best of Jordan’ Best of Jordan 5
    • 8 Best of Jordan
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    • “Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.” -Oscar Wilde
    • Best of Jordan CHAPTER ONE
    • The Greater Amman Municipality BEST OF JORDAN Metropolitan Growth “A livable city is an organized city with a soul” -GAM’s motto The Greater Amman Municipality’s (GAM) motto, as articulated by HE Mayor Omar Maani, reflects the dreams and aspirations of the 2.2 million inhabitants of the vibrant capital of Amman. It is an embodiment of the upbeat optimism of a city waking up to a new era. It was this same spirit that helped it gain the World Leadership Award in December 2007, and manifest its ambitious plans as identified in the innovative Amman Master Plan. The Award propelled the city into global recognition, and GAM into a predominant role in the realization of that vision. “ ‘A livable city is an organized city with a soul,’ that is the motto that we at Greater Amman Municipality are working to solidify. Our goal is to maintain the city’s heritage, regenerate the urban spaces and create more public spaces for the community to interact outdoors. By achieving that goal, we will have an inclusive city and maintain the soul of Amman. Amman is our special city and capital; there are many projects that we are embarking upon, such as increasing the green space, play grounds, and facilities for families and youth to interact and exchange ideas. The Greater Amman Municipality is also engaged in the culture movement of Amman; we believe our young society have talent that needs to be fostered and encouraged.” HE Mayor Omar Maani 12 Best of Jordan
    • Faced with expansion in 2007 from 700 square The High Rise Towers district includes four km to 1700 square km, and an expected separate zones. Firstly is Amman’s New Central population growth to reach 6.4 million in 2025, Business District (CBD), which is more commonly Amman’s Master Plan was seen as a critical and referred to as the Abdali development site - necessary milestone. GAM’s role predominately Amman’s upcoming major urban re-generation focuses on the city’s key infrastructures to make project - set to become a national and regional it more livable and more attractive to tourism business hub. Secondly, the Central Parkway, and foreign investment alike. Additionally, GAM comprising of a parkway development with four concentrates on improving the livelihood of its clusters of mid-rise developments nestled in a community through the promotion of industrial, park setting in Abdoun Area. The third district, commercial, and residential growth. This the Amman Northern Gateway, is located in concentration encompasses five distinctive Al-Jubayhah north of Al-Shaheed Ring Road strategies and policies; The High Rise Towers and east of the Queen Rania Road that serves Plans, The Corridors Intensification Strategy, The the University District and Al-Hussein Youth Interim Rural Residential Policy, The Airport Land City. Finally, the Amman Southern Gateway is Use Concepts Plans, and the Interim Industrial adjacently located east of the Airport road, and Land Plans. framed by Wadi Abdoun Corridor Road and Jabal Arafat Road. It is the southern gateway into Amman located at the Airport Road. Best of Jordan 13
    • BEST OF JORDAN Under the Corridor Intensification Strategy, GAM the character of some of Amman’s major improve the public transit system throughout will encourage a variety of developments to corridors into streets that will ‘define’ the city. the city, based on the belief that sustainable ensure adequate transportation, urban design Zahran Street, a main pillar of these efforts, is growth of Amman can only be achieved with the and other considerations such as creating a being revitalized with green boulevards, lined implementation of a modern transit system. pedestrian and green city. A major part of the with mixed use residential, commercial and Corridor Intensification Strategy is to transform retail developments. The strategy also seeks to 14 Best of Jordan
    • The stated purpose of the Interim Rural Residential Policy is to protect valuable agricultural lands, support traditional lifestyles, and create a connected natural heritage system. The Interim Rural Residential Policy comes as a response to increasing interest in residential developments, particularly large scale compound and gated community developments in GAM’s urban fringe and rural areas. In order to tackle these challenges, the Amman Master Plan has designated four rural growth areas around which future developments will be clustered. Located around existing villages, these future centers rationalize previous subdivision approvals, facilitate greater community self sufficiency, and allow for greater coordination of infrastructure. The Amman Airport Corridor is the primary spine of the Capital Region – linking it with the Queen Alia Airport as well as the new Amman Development Corridor. The Corridor has been undergoing enormous development pressure to accommodate new residential, commercial, cultural and recreational facilities. The Airport Corridor will provide Amman’s residents with safe, easy access to all parts of the city, while serving as a primary traffic and transit corridor while retaining its green character. Also, it will create new open spaces that will preserve and As the city of Amman embarks on the path to a celebrate agriculture, while protecting Amman’s brighter future with GAM at its helm, it has never limited remaining forests. The principles strongly forgotten its soul. The GAM plans and strategies encourage compact urban growth that will allow have internalized the hopes of its residents, the for the most efficient use of existing services, the diversity of its culture, and the splendor of its promotion of increased transit utilization, and the history. The fulfillment promise that the year 2025 improvement of pedestrian accessibility. holds, will certainly inch us closer to international modernity scales, but most importantly, it shall Finally, Industrial areas will be concentrated crown Amman’s magnificent legacy. in selected areas where growth can be accommodated with appropriate access to housing, transit and other urban amenities, in addition to ensuring that they are efficiently connected through staged servicing and transportation infrastructure. The creation of industrial clusters will provide Amman with the ability to stage infrastructure improvements with considerable cost savings, while complementary productive units will facilitate synergies and generate sustainable competitive advantage that will boost clusters’ performances. www.ammancity.gov.jo Best of Jordan 15
    • Jordan Investment Board BEST OF JORDAN The Jordan Investment Board (JIB) is a world class agency entrusted with promoting Jordan as a unique destination for foreign direct investment, and sustaining domestic investment to achieve economic prosperity in Jordan. Dr. Maen Nsour, Chief Executive Officer - JTB, reflects on the elements of facilitating investment in Jordan. Jordan has passed a number of laws for How did the designation of JIB as an facilitation of foreign investment, which individual unit accelerate the endorsement would you say have been most significant? of investment in Jordan? The Investment Promotion Laws No. 16 of 1995 Creating the Jordan Investment Board as an and No. 68 of 2003 were created to enhance independent organization since 1995, came investor confidence, and provide tax and custom about as result of the forward Hashemite and duty incentives for foreign and domestic investors governmental vision of making Jordan the conducting projects within qualified sectors in business and investment hub of the region. Jordan. Incentives include income tax breaks for Sustained economic growth through constant 10 years reaching up to 75%, and exemption from domestic and foreign investment aims at custom duties and sales tax on all fixed assets. creating new job opportunities, increasing Furthermore, the law stipulates equal treatment national exports, and transferring knowledge and to Jordanian and non-Jordanian investors, technology. Designating an individual unit enabled freedom of ownership, right to manage, freedom a focused and specialized promotional effort of to remit profits and proceeds abroad, and the investment opportunities in the Kingdom, created prevalence of international legal measures. a facilitating body to increase efficiency of the investment setting up process, by reducing the Qualified sectors in the current Investment timeframe of setting up a business in JIB’s One Promotion Law are: industry, agriculture, hotels, Stop Shop facility, and enacted an Investment hospitals, maritime transport and railways, leisure Promotion Law providing investors with financial and recreational compounds, convention and exemptions. Finally, it ensured investor feedback exhibition centers, transportation & distribution through JIB’s mandate for policy advocacy to of water, gas & oil, call and contact centers, relay investor experience and constantly improve research and development. To meet the the investment climate. growing needs and adapt to international direct Investment trends in 2008, a new Investment Since the establishment of JIB as the focal Promotion Law and Non-Jordanian Investment point for investment in the Kingdom, we have Regulations were drafted to better suit the been committed to providing investors with an country’s economic activities and foreign direct array of impeccable services before, during, and investment trends. The new law includes more after investment, becoming the ‘one window’ sectors and further benefits for investors in order for most investment related needs. Prospective to adapt to changing needs, and enhance the investors can obtain full information and first investment climate in Jordan. hand explanations on investment opportunities; several are anchored with offered pre-feasibility studies, information about legal issues, incentives and tax implications, repatriation of profits, and procedures governing setting up projects in Jordan. When the investor reaches the advanced stage of proceeding with setting up their project, 16 Best of Jordan
    • they may obtain necessary registration and licenses at JIB’s One Stop Shop (OSS), which offers streamlined procedures as our JIB after- care department ensures investor satisfaction. Therefore, independence enabled flexibility of action plans and activities in order to reach the target of elevating Jordan’s image, and enhancing its investment environment, coupled with the comprehensive provision of crucial investor services. Projects benefiting from the investment promotion law in 2007 alone amounted to $3 billion USD, not to mention the wide array of image building and awareness activities conducted by the organization. JIB (Jordan) has major worldwide market series of rigorous reforms. The WTO membership had negotiated, after Canada, Mexico and Israel, access. Which affiliations are considered as guarantees quality and access of Jordanian and the first with an Arab country. According your most prominent? products to more than 152 countries. Whereas, to the Department of Statistics, exports to the access to the Arab, US and European markets is US increased by 1761% from 2000 to 2007. A series of economic reforms between 1989 and enabled by signed Free Trade Agreements which Additionally, Jordan signed the Qualifying 2004 enabled Jordan to leverage on good-will aim at promoting economic relations, developing Industrial Zones (QIZ) Agreement with the US long enjoyed with our neighbors in the Middle East partnerships between those countries, and in 1996. These zones provide duty and quota and other countries, and to enter a wide range of diminishing trade barriers to enhance economic free access to the U.S. market for products bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. Our and technological development. First, the Greater manufactured in Jordan. Currently, there are trade agreements give us access to more than Arab Free Trade Agreement (1998) allows free 13 Qualified Industrial Zones in Jordan (three of one billion customers. Strong and increasing access to 17 Arab countries including the largest which are governmental). The third agreement exports capitalizing on trade agreements, Arab markets: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, allows access to the European market through resulted in a value increase of Jordanian goods UAE, Oman, Bahrain Qatar, Morocco, Palestine, signing the Jordan-EU Association Agreement sold abroad by 186% from 1996 to 2006. Kuwait, Tunis, Libya, Sudan, and Yemen. in 1997, which entered into force in 2002. Second, the Jordan-US Free Trade Agreement Regarding access with the Asian market, Jordan Jordan has been a member of the World Trade (FTA) signed in 2000 with the US, which was signed a free trade agreement with Singapore Organization (WTO) since the year 2000, after a the fourth Free Trade Agreement that the US in 2004. Jordan is currently negotiating trade Best of Jordan 17
    • BEST OF JORDAN agreements with both Turkey and Canada. Moreover, Jordan has signed protection and promotion of investments agreements with 35 countries, aiming to promote economic cooperation, activate the flow of private capital and transfer of technology, and further stimulate economic development. Such agreements create and maintain a stable investments framework, essential for maximizing the utilization of economic resources and improving overall living standards. Jordan also signed another avoidance of double taxation with 30 countries. What strategies does JIB implement in meeting common investment challenges? As part of our mission to enhance the investment environment and experience in Jordan, JIB embarked on several initiatives that have been already implemented such as the OSS, active outward promotion, and the Investment Map, whereas several others are underway. JIB aims to overcome challenges by studying the situation, developing solutions through holistic strategies, and most importantly implementing action plans will launch public and private sector initiatives stemming from their examination, and finally and support strategic programs in target areas. monitoring their success. The study resulted in seven complementary pillars which are: Investment Policy, Investment Currently, there are several challenges JIB Promotion and Facilitation, Trade Policies, is addressing. For one, Jordan is faced with Competitiveness Policies, Tax Policy, the challenge of enhancing the international Human Resources Development, and Public competitiveness of Jordan’s investment Administration. We are currently in the fourth and environment in order to transform Jordan into final stage of developing the implementation plan a global business and investment hub, driving with actionable remedies. in foreign and domestic direct investments. Thus, JIB has worked on drafting a National Second, JIB developed an Internal Strategy (IS) Investment Strategy (NIS), building on previous to meet growing investor needs, and ensure initiatives such as the National Agenda to guide a matching internal organizational model to the country’s investment efforts in promoting match them. Sub strategies were born, such investments within priority sectors, and as investor service process automation and streamlining the government’s efforts towards internal processes, development of follow-up mutual goals and targets. NIS’s development will and investor care services, development of allow Jordan to compete effectively in the global matchmaking and partnerships, the elevation market place, and will essentially serve as a of both research and development capabilities, strategic planning tool to guide the government, and transforming JIB into a learning organization. investors and entrepreneurial talent. As a high This will entail organizational restructuring and of level strategy that sets out Jordan’s national course, organizational reform. policies, objectives, and investments’ target, it 18 Best of Jordan
    • BEST OF JORDAN What sort of activities do you employ Which are the most competitive investment internationally in promoting Jordan as an sectors at the moment? ideal investment destination? Several sectors in Jordan hold unique, competitive JIB’s mission of positioning Jordan as a favorable advantages regionally and globally, while investment environment with lucrative investment other sectors present opportunities with great opportunities is realized through several activities growth potential. An initiative JIB conducted, such as, conducting ‘Investment Climate’ was analyzing Jordan’s economy followed with Seminars, targeted out-border promotion, sectoral examination. Later, the ‘Investment and participating in international economic Map’ was born producing 150 project concepts, and investment forums. Additionally, we have 75 of which have pre-feasibility studies. Fifteen prepared a creative, modern advertising sectors where identified with a unique set of campaign to spread awareness through audio- differentiators to attract FDI, comprehensive visual channels, and highlight Jordan’s offered and systematic evaluation of such sectors as opportunities. JIB’s specialized promotional team Information and Communication Technology and foreign offices in Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and (ICT), Pharmaceutical and Healthcare, Tourism, China, and an active team in the US enable the Infrastructure, Energy and Utilities, Chemicals execution of these activities. and Allied Products, Mining and Processing, Agriculture and many others. During Investment climate seminars, potential investors learn about not only the climate, Jordan’s sectoral advantages and opportunities but also of the advantageous sectors Jordan are supported by the favorable macro-economic offers; sectoral presentations are carried by environment from a growing GDP at 6% , tripled representatives from Jordanian public and private total factor productivity reaching 3%, a low sectors. These seminars are followed with one- inflation rate in single digits at 6.25% (2006), to-one matchmaking meetings, where potential a diminishing public debt, increasing exports investors examine partnership opportunities. and foreign reserves; the availability of resources Such seminars have resulted in interesting especially the young, talented and educated partnerships and relationship building throughout workforce; availability of space and enabling the years. They also managed to reinforce platforms such as business parks and industrial Jordan’s positive image. estates; the modern infrastructure and extensive communication network; and the accessibility to An innovative promotional activity has targeted healthy banking and financial services, as well as outward promotion, entailing extensive country a growing stock market. Further encouragement studies. Based on Jordan’s economical needs is provided with attractive tax and custom and sectoral strengths, countries were analyzed incentives, and streamlined government resulting in priority sectors along with the procedures and commitment. identification of potential companies, followed with targeted missions to their respective countries. Through planning and follow-up, these missions have shown considerable heightened interest. Presence in strategic countries such as Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and the US, coupled with close collaboration with Jordan’s embassies worldwide, endorses a continuous market presence situated closer to potential investors, thus strengthening relationships. www.jordaninvestment.com Best of Jordan 19
    • His Majesty King Abdullah II BEST OF JORDAN “My priority is a better life for all Jordanians. My vision for the new Jordan is one of a national rejuvenation and global integration. A great people with a positive drive… Motivated to perform their best…And have the energy to excel. I believe in my people. Jordanians, who built achievements of the past, can and will work for a better future. A future that is based on true capabilities, and economic opportunities. “ His Majesty King Abdullah II Born in Amman on January 30, 1962, King His Majesty King Abdullah has become an Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein is the 43rd generation inspirational and liberating force on all levels. direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad Embracing globalization, King Abdullah has (Peace Be Upon Him). His Majesty assumed committed himself to building on the late King’s his constitutional powers as monarch of the legacy to further institutionalize democratic Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on February 7, and political pluralism in Jordan. His Majesty 1999, the day his father, the late King Hussein, has exerted extensive efforts in ensuring passed away. sustainable levels of economic growth and social development aimed at improving the standard of living of all Jordanians. Additionally, His Majesty tirelessly works to modernize Jordan’s information technology and educational systems. King Abdullah also actively championed Jordan’s ascension to the World Trade Organization achieved in April 2000, and ratified agreements for the establishment of a free trade area with the United States of America, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association countries, and sixteen Arab countries. King Abdullah has also been involved in the drive for national administrative reform, as well as governmental transparency and accountability. Working on the advancement of civil liberties, the King has earned Jordan recognition as one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East. Moreover, King Abdullah has been involved in enacting legislation essential to guaranteeing women a full role in the Kingdom’s socio- economic and political life. 20 Best of Jordan
    • Improving Living Standards King Abdullah has made improving the living standards of Jordanians a top priority, and under his leadership, significant steps have been taken to revitalize the economy in order to achieve that goal. His initiatives and directives have helped increase foreign investment and boost collaboration between the public and private sectors, all in an effort to elevate citizens’ lifestyles. His Majesty King Abdullah prioritizes developing the country’s governorates, and establishing projects designed to improve living standards and the quality and availability of public services. The special development zones – in Aqaba, Mafraq, Irbid and Maan – all reflect the kingdom’s efforts to distribute development and its benefits throughout Jordan, especially outside the capital. The zones capitalize on each of their competitive edges to attract investments in the industrial, logistics, services and technical fields. The development zones are expected to attract major investments that would enhance the country’s exports and provide thousands of jobs. The Mafraq Special Development Zone for example, has been conceived as a nine- square-kilometre estate, mapped to serve as a transport, logistics and industrial hub serving not only Jordan, but also neighbors like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq. The establishments of these zones in the north and south, aim to help residents in economically deprived areas boost their income, as well as attract foreign investment. Decent Housing for Decent Living Launched in February 2008, the Decent Housing for Decent Living is a nationwide initiative; a housing mega-project which involves the construction of some 120,000 housing units over a five-year period. At King Abdullah’s request, the initiative seeks to provide housing for hundreds of thousands of low and limited-income Jordanians, civil servants, Jordan Armed Forces personnel, and civil and military retirees. Decent Housing for Decent Living offers an opportunity to own a decent housing unit at an affordable price, with installments ranging around the same value of rent. More than 150,000 applications have been received by citizens wishing to buy a unit under the initiative. The Royal initiative includes the creation of housing units for low- and limited-income citizens, and seeks to develop comprehensive residential areas. Moreover, the Best of Jordan 21
    • BEST OF JORDAN 22 Best of Jordan
    • surrounding areas of the units will be provided in serving their country and making a difference with playgrounds, public facilities, gardens and in the lives of fellow Jordanians. Following King multipurpose facilities, ensuring convenience Abdullah’s directives, the Higher Council of and full facilities. The housing units which will Youth is implementing youth programs. All in all, range from 100-square meters to 160-square the We Are All Jordan Commission has formed meters in area, will be offered at affordable 12 working groups, one in each governorate, prices; the government will provide plots of land to plan and implement different projects to and infrastructure free of charge, which means empower Jordanian youth, while benefiting local significantly lowered cost. Out of the planned communities. 120,000 housing units, 75,000 will be located in the main cities and 25,000 in districts across A Kingdom of Peace the country. No down payment is required of new home-buyers, and the monthly installment shall Since King Abdullah assumed the responsibility of not exceed one-third of a beneficiary’s salary. leadership in 1999, he has picked up his father’s mantle as a leader committed to establishing a ‘We are All Jordan’ Youth Commission positive, strong role for Jordan within the Arab region and the world. His Majesty has been King Abdullah is devoted to supporting Jordan’s an ardent champion of peace initiatives to end youth and to tapping their energy and creativity the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and civil unrest to advance Jordan’s development. Under elsewhere in the region. Most notably, he has the mandate of His Majesty King Abdullah been an outspoken advocate of the Arab Peace II, the We Are All Jordan Youth Commission Initiative, which seeks comprehensive regional was established in 2006 to activate youth peace between Israel and all Arab states. The participation in the social, cultural, economic initiative was unanimously endorsed by the Arab and political spheres. King Abdullah believes that states and the Palestinians at the 2002 Arab such an initiative would eventually help pilot the Summit in Beirut, Lebanon. rise of a young leadership, capable of excelling Best of Jordan 23
    • Her Majesty Queen Rania BEST OF JORDAN A sublime role model for successful Arab and Muslim women worldwide, Her Majesty continues to gain remarkable identification for her devotion in meeting the challenges of the century. Hand in hand with King Abdullah’s march towards world peace, both their majesties represent Jordan’s peaceful position as a haven of fidelity and synchronization, enabling a mixture of ethnicities and religions to mold into a single vessel. Since becoming Queen in 1999, Her Majesty the welfare and development of all Jordanian Queen Rania’s commitment has transpired citizens, especially women and children. through myriad initiatives and projects. As first lady, Queen Rania’s activities focus on issues of Born in Kuwait to a notable Jordanian family of national concern, such as the implementation Palestinian origin, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al- of education, child protection and women Abdullah (formerly Rania Al-Yasin), completed empowerment among significant others. In her her high school education in Kuwait, and then leading quest to position Jordan as a sustained obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business and modern society, her Majesty’s humane Administration from the American University in enterprises all share an underlying mission Cairo. Upon graduation, Queen Rania returned to towards an interconnected global community. Jordan and careered in banking and Information With Her Majesty’s determined steps in inducing Technology. His Majesty King Abdullah bin Al- national progress, Jordan has witnessed Hussein (then Prince) and Queen Rania wed in prominent advancement with issues relating to 1993, and now have four children: HRH Prince 24 Best of Jordan
    • Hussein, HRH Princess Iman; HRH Princess with various independent means of subsistence. Salma and HRH Prince Hashem. The Women’s Access to Entrepreneurship Development and Training (WAEDAT) Program, Her Majesty has channeled her focus into several launched in June 2005, gave an opportunity core issues, such as the development of income- for women to excel through creating their own generating projects via practiced advancements business, illustrating Jordan’s stride of developing in microfinance for improvement of local community awareness and well being. Also as families’ quality of life, and the incorporation of part of her contributive directive to improving the Information Technology into the educational quality of life of Jordanian families, Queen Rania system. Additionally, the Queen has profoundly serves as the head of the National Council for involved herself in promoting national tourism Family Affairs (NCFA), which aims at ensuring and preserving Jordan’s heritage. the right policy environment to support the development of family protection and unity. Her Majesty is universally distinguished for the eloquent voice of the initiatives she champions Youtube on behalf of every one of us. The Queen’s efforts have brought to life numerous establishments Internationally, Queen Rania is renowned for such as the National Team for Early Development, her world peace aspiration, activating her the National Team for Family Safety, and “Dar leading role to inspire the recognition and Al Aman” Child Safety Centre (the first of its implementation of cultural understanding and kind in the Middle East), caring for abused and awareness, and religious tolerance and co- neglected children. The Jordan River Foundation existence. Consequently in March 2008, Queen is another example of achievement which Rania launched her very own youtube channel, represents thousands of women across the dedicated to breaking down stereotypes about kingdom who managed to empower their lives the Arab and Muslim worlds, and to bridging the East-West divide. Best of Jordan 25
    • BEST OF JORDAN An International Presence Regionally and internationally, Queen Rania has campaigned for a greater understanding between cultures in high profile forums such as the Jeddah Economic Forum, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Skoll Foundation in the UK. Queen Rania is on the Board of Directors of several international organizations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), the United Nations Foundation (UNF), International Youth Foundation (IYF), the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA), and the GAVI Fund. Moreover, Her Majesty is UNICEF’s first Eminent Advocate for Children, World Health Organization Patron for Violence Prevention in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, and The Global Ambassador of Women for Women International. Madrasati Launched in April 2008, Madrasati brings together public, private and non-profit partners in an exciting, new grassroots initiative to renovate public schools in urgent need of repair. Led by Her Majesty, Madrasati enriches learning environments, and enhance opportunities for children in 500 schools across Jordan. The initiative aims at ensuring that each school has an appropriate infrastructure, a child centered environment, and access to quality learning and teaching tools. In achieving its goals, the Madrasati Initiative is implemented under the umbrella of the Jordan River Foundation and other partners; the Ministry of Education, the Jordan Education Initiative, the Royal Health Awareness Society, the Jordan Education Society, the Children’s Museum, the Greater Amman Municipality, the Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education, UNICEF, INJAZ, and Ruwwad. 26 Best of Jordan
    • KAFA Another of Her Majesty’s prominent initiatives is KAFA, which stemmed from “The National Traffic Awareness Campaign” in 2005. KAFA aims to cooperate with all relevant institutions, public, private, and civil society to accomplish the program’s goal of increasing traffic awareness and fostering a culture of traffic safety that influences behavioral change, and motivates high individuals’ responsibility on the roads. Queen Rania Al Abdullah’s Award for Excellence in Education The Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education was launched by Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania in October 2005, in observance of World Teachers’ Day. Aimed at accomplishing educational excellence by measuring, advancing, and honoring merit and achievement in teaching, the award’s mission is to set and communicate national standards of excellence, reward individuals and institutions accordingly, and develop inspirational success stories into national role models. With a charismatic and compassionate approach which only a natural born leader could possess, Queen Rania has captured the world with her genuine, empathetic character. Besides her noble title as the queen of Jordan, Her Majesty is the comrade, the mother, the friend, and the true Arab woman representing the compassion and pride of the Arab and Muslim world. Best of Jordan 27
    • Jordan BEST OF JORDAN Land of Contrasts The ancient land east of the River of Jordan, home to some of history’s more memorable moments, is now the staging ground for one of the Middle East’s fastest growing countries and economies, Jordan. Aptly named for the river that crosses its eastern border, Jordan has traditionally been at the center of ancient trade routes. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a scenic land of contrasts in harmonious existence; between the ancient and the modern, the desert and the hills, the local and the international. Remnants of the past dot Jordan’s serene deserts and lush hills, but its ambitious future is what truly characterizes its soul. The Capital: Amman If there is one word to describe the capital of Jordan, Amman, it would be eclectic. The construction boom in Amman can be heard everywhere, competing with the sounds of hectic traffic in its mains streets, circles, and through bridges. Previously called Philadelphia, Amman was one of the most significant cities of the Decapolis, a series of Roman cities of an Empire waking up to its glory days. Once a hilltop site of castles and ancient amphitheatres, the city is now more distinguished by the scene of cranes and frenzied building projects, and a melting pot of the ancient and the modern. In many corners Trade Agreement (AFTA), Euro-Mediterranean of today’s ever-changing urban framework, Association Agreements with Jordan, United stories from the past still stand tall, offering a States-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, and the mesmeric glimpse into the Kingdom’s history. QIZ agreements. A bustling hub of investment, hospitality, and Natural Resources culture, Amman consistently exceeds the expectations of its visitors. From five-star hotels Jordan’s natural resource base revolves around and restaurants, to impressive art galleries and phosphates, potash, and fertilizer derivatives. museums, what the city offers never seizes With production totaling 6.4 million tons in 2005, to astonish. The capital city has seen the Jordan was the world’s third largest producer of introduction of first class brands and chains raw phosphates. In addition to these two major from around the world while still managing to as water and oil, sustaining waves of refugees, minerals, smaller quantities of unrefined salt, maintain its small-city coziness and authenticity. and being in a tough regional neighborhood, copper ore, gypsum, manganese ore, and the The spacious suburbs and modern shopping in Jordan has managed to build a vibrant and mineral precursors to the production of ceramics numerous malls contrast with the buzz of old commercially viable economy. Jordan has (glass sand, clays, and feldspar) are also mined, souks in the downtown area; where one can also remained a metaphorical oasis of stability, making up the country’s principal sources of hard shop for gold, silver and handmade jewelry in despite its regional location on the sidelines of currency earnings. Downtown’s Gold Souk, or spices and hand- bordering conflicts. woven rugs in neighboring streets. In Abdoun and Sweifieh, one can find restaurants, cafes, Jordanians: The Backbone of the Economy Trade and swanky boutiques that originate from as far away as California and Italy. While in the The Jordanian government has referred cobblestoned Rainbow Street, home grown With a heritage as a merchant middleman since constantly to Jordan’s manpower and human establishments dominate the neighborhoods the Nabatean Kingdom of Petra, and an idyllic resources as the nation’s most valuable resource. with authentic Ammany flair. Amman is a micro- situation at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and This is because the economy depends heavily on ism of the whole of Jordan; speeding to its future Africa, Jordan is supremely located as a trading the professional service sector, and remittance while clinging with one hand to its genuine past. transit point for major mercantile activities. income from expatriates. Jordan receives billions International trade has been a big part of Jordan’s of dollars of invisible or unearned income in the economic success. This has been mainly due form of inflows of foreign aid and funds transfers The Economy to two reasons; outstanding trade agreements from expatriates. and strategic location. Jordan has exceptional In many ways, the story of Jordan’s economy has trade agreements with most of the countries in The Government of Jordan has placed a lot of been a story of success against improbable odds. the World; some unique to this small country. emphasis on education, and invests 13 percent Overcoming a lack of important resources such Jordan enjoys the benefits of the Arab Free of its public expenditure budget on basic and 28 Best of Jordan
    • The Dawn of the Investment Climate The booming investment activity in Jordan has been one of the key drivers of propelling economic growth in Jordan. The country’s regulatory environment provides good overall freedom to start, operate, and close a business. In the past decade, Jordan has undertaken some broad economic reforms in a long-term effort to improve living standards. Jordan has relative strengths in terms of very low corruption, strong property rights, and low tax rates on individual and corporate income. Foreign Direct Investment in the country has risen drastically, thanks to new liberalizing policies enacted by the government. Since Jordan’s graduation from its most recent IMF program in 2002, Amman has continued to follow IMF guidelines; practicing careful monetary policy, making substantial headway with privatization, and opening the trade regime. These measures have improved productivity, and have made Jordan more attractive for foreign investment. With all these initiatives, the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has seen a steady rise. The new investment spending has helped push GDP in the last few years, raising the standard of living for most Jordanians. Tourism The Golden Triangle of Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba form the south’s most valuable tourist resources to Jordan, while the North of the kingdom enjoys the Greco-Roman Decapolis sites and the biblical sites. Tourism numbers have been consistently rising in recent years, mainly due to Petra’s vote as one of the world’s new seven wonders in 2007, and the increased number of tourist facilities and infrastructures in the country. Since 2004, the country has seen the development of mega-tourist projects in Amman, Dead Sea, Aqaba, and Petra. This pattern is expected to continue in the next few years as Jordan receives more exposure and gains rapid ground around the globe. Jordan ranks as 58th in the world in terms of economic freedom according secondary education. The country boasts a high commercial banks, two Islamic banks, five to the Heritage Foundation. education rate at 90% of both males and females investment banks, and eight foreign banks. Three of the population - one of the highest in middle major Middle Eastern banks entered the market income countries. Post-secondary education, in 2004, offering more variety of financial services. Tourism accounts for approximately technical training, and job development training The Arab Bank dominates the sector, accounting 11% of Jordan’s total GDP are also well-funded and play a key role in for about 60 percent of total assets. The maintaining Jordan’s competitiveness in the government does not own commercial banks, global economy. but does own five specialized credit institutions Jordan holds the highest female literacy focused on agricultural credit, housing, rural and rates in the region, with 82 percent Jordan’s Financial Sector urban development, and industry. The insurance literacy rates among all segments of the sector is small but open to foreign competition. female population Jordan’s financial sector is dominated by banking Capital markets are fairly robust by regional and is fairly well developed. In the last few years, standards. The Amman Stock Exchange has the government has brought supervision and been rising exponentially in the last few years, regulation into line with international standards. and as of 2008, market capitalization reached 23 As of June 2006, there were nine domestic billion Dinars. Best of Jordan 29
    • Fast Facts Jordan BEST OF JORDAN A stable kingdom with a proud past and an optimistic eye to the future, Jordan’s strategic location at the nexus of Africa, Asia, and Europe has contoured its significant regional and economic power. Jordan is widely renowned for its authentic hospitality, a tradition cultivated from the inherent generosity of its people. While the miscellany of the Kingdom cannot be contained in a few pages, the following are some basic pointers. Area: 92,300 Km Capital City: Amman Time Zone: Summer (Riyadh +3 GMT), Winter (+2 GMT) Population: 6,198,677 Current per capita GDP: $4,906 GDP - real growth rate: 6% (2007 est.) Inflation: 14.8% (2008 est.) Official Languages: Arabic English Religion: Sunni Islam 92% Christians 6% Other 2% Ethnic groups: Arab 98% Circassian 1% Armenian 1% Currency: Jordanian Dinar JD (1$=0.709 JD ) Country Dialing Code: (+962) Internet Domain: .jo Electric Current: 220 AC volts, 50 cycles, requiring rounded two-prong wall plugs Geography: Mostly desert plateau in east, highland area in west; Great Rift Valley separates East and West Banks of the Jordan River Climate: Mostly hot and dry in the summer; rainy season in west (November to April) 30 Best of Jordan
    • Major Trade Agreements: WTO Membership (2000), Arab Free Trade Agreement (AFTA, 2008), Free Trade Accord with the US (2001), Association Agreement with the EU (2001), Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ, 1996). Accessibility: Visitors with a valid passport may obtain a visa at any Jordanian embassy, consulate, or legation abroad. A visa can also be obtained at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport or at any other Elevation extremes: Telecommunications: border crossing except King Hussein Bridge and the ferryboat from Egypt. Lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m Jordan has a highly advanced Highest point: Jabal Ram 1,734 m telecommunications network with internet Postal Services: coverage gaining ground rapidly, and growing Banks and Foreign Exchange: Wi-Fi networks and services. Mobile and Besides post offices, most 4 and 5-star hotels cellular technology is prevalent throughout offer postal services. There are also a number of Jordan has an abundance of international banks, the country with four main service providers international courier services including Aramex, and credit cards (American Express, Visa, Diners and approximately 100% penetration of local DHL, FedEx, TNT International and UPS. Post Club, and MasterCard) can be used at most population. office opening hours are: Summer: Sat-Thurs sizable retail outlets, hotels, and entertainment 07:00-19:00, Fri 07:00-13:00. Winter: Sat-Thurs venues. Foreign exchange services are wide- Medical Facilities: 07:00-17:00, Fri 07:00-13:00 spread and can be accessed in any part of the country. Jordan has some of the most advanced medical facilities in the region, and medical tourism is quickly becoming a lucrative industry. The country’s natural setting and highly skilled workforce creates ideal grounds for a therapeutic experience. Best of Jordan 31
    • “I may live in America, but in Jordan, I am always welcomed home.” -Peter Greenberg, Today Show, NBC News
    • Hospitality & Dining CHAPTER TWO
    • ATICO - Fakhreldin Group H O S P I TA L I T Y & D I N I N G A Continuing Story of Success in Hospitality Established in 1992, ATICO Fakhreldin Group specializes in investing and operating in the hospitality sector in Jordan and the Middle East. An icon of quality and innovation, ATICO has secured a position as the leading hospitality management group in Jordan. It started its first project with AlQasr Metropole Hotel, a four star boutique hotel, and expanded to include Fakhreldin Restaurant, Ren Chai, Yoshi, Vinaigrette Salad & Sushi Bar, Nai Club & Lounge, Trattoria Casa Della Pasta, The Courtyard, Wild Jordan Café, Amigo, Bistro One, Fakhreldin & Co. and Kebab Express. The company has also expanded outside the Kingdom, starting with Taboula Restaurant in Cairo. AlQasr Metropole Hotel A charming four star boutique hotel, AlQasr Metropole enjoys breathtaking views of Amman. Located in the most prestigious and commercial area in the capital, the hotel’s 66 rooms offer an abundance of modern amenities for all travelers’ necessities. With the highest standards of excellence, and a devoted team of attentive staff, AlQasr Metropole is famed for being the ideal destination for business and pleasure. Trattoria Casa Della Pasta In a relaxed ambience, this popular Italian pasta house offers a selection of the finest home-made pastas, genuine Italian dishes, and a wide range of wines. It has also become known for its famous fish market, with a considerable assortment of fresh fish and shellfish delivered daily from the Arabian Gulf. AlQasr Metropole Hotel Vinaigrette Salad and Sushi Bar Nai Vinaigrette Salad and Sushi Bar Nai On the 7th floor of the AlQasr Metropole, Nai remains Amman’s most popular and longest running night spot, maintaining its strong appeal for Vinaigrette’s glass walls offer remarkable over seven years. Renowned for its original music and style, it’s set amid distinctive modern décor panoramic views of East and West Amman. with oriental touches, creating a sophisticated, glamorous mood. Nai serves a fusion menu including Specializing in a wide variety of cuisines, you Lebanese mezza, international favorites and Japanese specials prepared by award winning chefs. may ‘Create your own salad’, enjoy international This venue is very popular with the elite of the Jordanian society and with visiting celebrities. platters or savor Japanese delicacies whilst listening to Jazz music. The Sushi bar, Amman’s first, displays an impressive variety of sushi, sashimi, maki and temaki freshly prepared by skilled resident sushi chefs. 34 Best of Jordan
    • The Courtyard The Courtyard is a laid back, casual summer garden with white leather couches and private lounges around a grass lawn set-up. In winter, a heated tent is installed making it the perfect venue for concerts, events and private parties. The Courtyard serves heartwarming dishes such as fresh oven baked pizza, burgers and shawerma, as well as chilled drinks and the ever popular sheesha. The Courtyard Fakhr El Din Restaurant Popular amongst royalty, government officials and celebrities visiting Amman, Fakhr El Din Restaurant has been Jordan’s leading Lebanese restaurant for over 10 years. Set in an old charming house that was renovated to preserve its original heritage and style, Fakhr El Din specializes in genuine Lebanese cuisine with exceptional service. The vast menu includes various oriental mezza, succulent meats, fresh fish and several delicious desserts of exceptional standard. Fakhr El Din Restaurant Wild Jordan Café The Wild Jordan Café has a scenic location with magnificent views of old Amman and the Citadel. Located in the center run by the RSCN which aims to generate income for the communities of the six nature reserves it oversees, Wild Jordan Café offers fresh, healthy, low fat and organic dishes inspired by these reserves. The Café also contributes part of its revenues to support the local communities. Bistro One This cozy Mediterranean bistro style restaurant is located in one of Amman’s charming old neighborhoods, offering an intimate dining experience. The menu is creatively delicious, offering fantastic cuts of steak, fondues, seafood salads, fine wines and great cocktails, or more simply a coffee and croissant al fresco on the summer veranda. Wild Jordan Café Bistro One Best of Jordan 35
    • H O S P I TA L I T Y & D I N I N G Amigo Pub Amigo is a laid-back pub that attracts an alternative crowd, and is a great place to share drinks with friends, enjoy a game of pool and listen to original rock music or hits of the 80’s and 90’s. Live music nights are not to be missed. Ren Chai A beautiful and contemporary fine dining Chinese restaurant, Ren Chai creates an atmosphere that emphasizes elements of nature in a modern style. If offers a range of Cantonese and Szechuan delicacies, such as lobster and shark fin soup as well as your favorite dishes. In the summer, dine in the tranquil open air garden. Ren Chai Amigo Pub Yoshi The newest & most exciting concept, Yoshi, offers a contemporary yet casual Asian all day dining experience serving light Dim Sum, delicate sushi items prepared live at the Sushi Bar, authentic Tepanyaki, and ‘the best’ Asian platters to share. Enjoy a huge range of exclusive Asian teas by Tchaba as well as unique cocktails and a great wine list. With a beautiful interior comprised of wood paneled walls, banquet seating, fine art as well as brass and bamboo fittings Yoshi is a relaxing place to have a business lunch, afternoon Japanese tea on the terrace or just to meet friends at the bar for some light bites. Yoshi Fakhreldin & Co. ATICO’s deli at Cozmo Superstore offers freshly prepared, high quality food products from all of its outlets. Mezza from Fakhr El Din, Sushi from Vinaigrette, hot items from Ren Chai, smoothies from Wild Jordan Café and many other items are delicately packed and ready to go. Kebab Express Freshly prepared Lebanese appetizers, healthy sandwiches and delicious grills are served in a fast food setting where all menu items have been carefully selected from Fakhr El Din Restaurant’s popular items. Kebab Express currently operates two outlets with many more to follow in ATICO’s plan of expansion. Fakhreldin & Co. Kebab Express 36 Best of Jordan
    • Interview with Mr. Azzam Fakhreldin, COO of ATICO ATICO’s hospitality, dining, and entertainment outlets, in addition to its event management services are spectacularly diversified. How do you fuse such a variety under one umbrella? We achieved this diversity by sustaining the same vision for all of ATICO’s business divisions. We strongly believe in the four Cs: Creativity, Consistency, Cooperation, and Coordination. ATICO’s initials further signify our corporate code of ethics: A: Attention to detail, T: Trend Setting and innovation, I: Involvement in community and social responsibility, C: Consistency in standards, O: Organization unity through our people. We believe that our outlets’ unison relates directly to our employees’ dedications who truly are our assets. All above principles are embedded throughout our entire team, resulting in the durability and individuality of our businesses. A high benchmark of quality has become associated with our outlets since our establishment, and that greatly fuels our motivation to keep it up. What strategies do you implement in securing your position as a leading hospitality management group? Mainly consistency and creativity - we have always been initiators rather than followers, pioneering the hospitality scene in Jordan. It started when we established the first high quality family owned boutique hotel, when we took over in 1992. Also, in Arabic fine dining when Fakhr El- Din opened in 1997, and later when we opened the first local sushi bar (Vinaigrette Salad & Sushi Bar). We are aggressive in our progressions, taking risks despite market saturations because we confidently believe in each of our products. Plus, we are constantly on the lookout for market ATICO head office team needs and opportunities. ATICO played a major role in shaping Jordan’s involvements include King Hussein Cancer outlets, and look at noteworthy expansions in entertainment scene. What is your biggest Foundation, Tikyat Um Ali, Al Awdah Hospital the near future through empowering managers, achievement and toughest challenge? (Gaza Strip), and Al Itihad Woman’s Hospital implementing quality audits, and embedding (Nablus) among others. corporate methods. Locally we are expanding Both my biggest achievement and toughest our latest fast food Arabic concept ‘Kebab challenge is ATICO’S earned credibility. It’s an You are a rightful entertainment icon of Express’ as we believe that the future of dining achievement because ATICO’s quality products Jordan. With over 17 years of experience, in the kingdom is fast food, due to modern day and services have set credible standards, which what is your view of the local hospitality fast life and high costs. Our aim is to export this our valued customers have become naturally industry today? concept regionally and internationally. As part accustomed to. However ironically, it is also our of our expansion plans abroad, we are close to biggest challenge. When customers hold such It’s quite like ‘survival of the fittest’! When we first opening Fakhreldin restaurant in Bahrain, and an expectant perspective of your product, there entered the market, consumers’ expectations soon after in Saudi Arabia. is absolutely no room for mistakes. Another hefty were minimal. Today however, we operate in a challenge restaurateurs face is the shortage of community which is highly exposed and bizarrely trained personnel, therefore we pour our main diversified, leaving us with little to no choice of effort into training and rewarding programs. compromise. Since 1991, the industry has seen a huge leap in professional hospitality services ATICO is renowned for its CSR across making it more challenging than ever, especially the kingdom. Would you brief us on your as we often compete with international food community involvements? chains which have ventured into Jordan. Our involvement in the community consumes an Finally, what developments does the future integral part of ATICO’s beliefs and commitment potentially hold for ATICO? – it is not just morally rewarding, but also reflects greatly on the business. ATICO’s charitable Our prime focus is to institutionalize our existing www.atico-jo.com Best of Jordan 37
    • Ziad Akkawi H O S P I TA L I T Y & D I N I N G The Man Behind Some of Jordan’s Most Exciting Spots Swanky continental dining and Discuss your background. How did you the concept of lounge dining. Although it seemed transcendental entertainment are some of pursue a career in the restaurant business? perfectly suited to the city’s crowd, the idea was the hallmarks that Shaman, Teatro and 51 barely existent when I decided to fill this niche. are prized for. Visionary Ziad Akkawi shares I was fascinated by the restaurant world for Amman was ripe for a dining revolution; the city how ten years in the business have shaped as long as I can remember. Keen to engage in was growing and attracting global residents Amman’s lounge-dining scene. From youth the hospitality industry after school, I moved who wanted fresh concepts. Fortunately for us, to prime restaurateur, his is a story of to Canada and later the US to gain experience competition was scarce. Along with three close inspiration. working in hotels, clubs and restaurants’ friends, I set about transforming Amman’s dining promotion. I returned to Jordan in 1997, eager trend and the product of our endeavors was to pursue my ambition in my homeland, and so Shaman. I worked in several fields within the hospitality industry to gain wider market perception. But it Shaman is reputed for its distinguished was not until 1999 during a supervisory position ambience, and chic decor. How would you at Whispers Restaurant (a well reputed dining describe its concept? venue in Amman), that I felt truly confident with my knowledge of the sector. With this came my Shaman was created to establish and popularize recognition of a gap in Amman’s night scene - lounge dining in Amman, embodying the 38 Best of Jordan
    • philosophy whole-heartedly. Exuding personality other hand, is a spacious lounging area, where of palates. Situated on the upper floor, bar 51 and diversity, guests can enjoy a full meal, a small festive moods blend with contemporary beats. combines comfort and elegance, boasting floor snack with drinks, or cocktails and dancing all at Finally, Zen offers the best in Japanese fine dining to ceiling windows with striking views of the city. the same sociable and relaxed venue. Essentially, in a warm sophisticated setting. This lounge also it is malleable to the clients’ own tastes and includes a smaller Japanese-style dining room, How would you describe the fine dining desires. My inspiration for Shaman’s décor and for private functions. scene in Amman? Describe your client milieu was derived from my prolonged travel to base. different countries, notably Ibiza which I found What about your latest venues, Teatro and most stimulating in terms of style and atmosphere. 51, which rapidly became known for their The phenomenon of globalization has meant that Each of the four lounges offer a unique elegant dining experiences? unique trends and cuisines can be accessed experience, while maintaining a harmonious link from opposite sides of the world. Restaurateurs of the same underlying concept. Shaman’s main Teatro and 51 recently opened, offering have to keep pace with clients’ demands in restaurant offers casual but funky entertainment customers a stylish dining and entertainment order to secure their success, which means coupled with an exceptional continental menu, experience in the heart of Amman. Teatro offers experimentation and originality. Jordan is of while Nara (adjacent to Shaman) transports the finest of French and Italian cuisine in a mature course included in this wave of exposure and guests to a Moroccan lounge; intimate with soft and romantic setting, providing avant-garde should always strive to compete on a global lighting, shisha, and relaxed seating. Myth on the delicious recipes to even the most discerning scale. The fine dining scene in Amman has Best of Jordan 39
    • H O S P I TA L I T Y & D I N I N G been expanding rapidly, especially since 2005. the extra mile to remain hands-on, no matter incentives to match international standards of Ultimately, Jordan ranks as one of the top three how busy the schedule gets. I have seen enough expertise. This issue is a direct consequence dining and night scene destinations in the Middle malfunctions in the market to fully comprehend of the shortage of professional institutions. In East, and I am proud to be part of this. that every triumph is at risk, unless you constantly accordance with His Majesty King Abdullah’s try to introduce new ideas, renovations, food vision, the government is actively providing Our ‘average’ customer today is highly cultured, menus, and so forth. We realize that customer facilities for the tourism sector, which is greatly with sophisticated tastes and expectations. loyalty cannot be sustained unless we portray beneficial to us. I welcome these as they are the ones who will our loyalty to them by ensuring added value. An maintain the development of the restaurant integral component of any success story lies in Is there anything else to add about yourself industry, highlighting the competition and its unquenchable ambition, and our story is no or the restaurant profession that would be individual improvements. exception to this fact. interesting to others aspiring to succeed in the industry? Trendy locations often seem to have their What challenges do you face in running your ‘moment of fame’ before becoming fast business? This sector is very challenging. Although initial fading fads, but this was never true of your capital is important, it is by no means enough. outlets. How do you stay in vogue? Considering that the buzz of the dining and One must be patient and prepared to sacrifice nightlife industry in Jordan is relatively new, it is personal time. Ambition and drive for success I firmly believe that you should never get too natural that there are challenges which we must pave the way, but they need to be coupled with comfortable with your success. Development take a lead role in improving. For starters, the hard work. This is not a revolutionary statement, cannot be achieved unless you constantly strive shortage of experienced staff - we put great effort but the execution of it requires strict discipline to improve. As a managing partner, I always go into training our employees offering attractive that one has to be willing and able to endure. 40 Best of Jordan
    • Best of Jordan 41
    • Four Seasons Amman H O S P I TA L I T Y & D I N I N G A City Haven Four Seasons Hotel - Amman combines The hotel’s plush accommodation, delectable Sumptuous Slumber luxury and comfort in the heart of Jordan’s restaurants, and well-appointed business, modern capital. Its location on a hilltop conference and banquet facilities set a new The 192 guest rooms and suites of the hotel between one of Amman’s main shopping standard of quality and excellence in the city. enjoy the feel and ambiance of a large villa. With areas and its financial district, grants The 192-room hotel opened in December 2002, the smallest rooms being 45 square metres, the spectacular views and a convenient setting. and was inspired by Jordan’s rich history and hotel bedrooms are the most spacious in the The high standards of Four Seasons Amman heritage, creating a landmark building that leaves city. Framed by curtains in golden tones of heavy have not gone amiss in 2008, it was voted a memorable impression. The columns running satin and organza, the generous picture windows one of the top hotels in the Middle East in the full height of the hotel’s storey façade are a provide fabulous views across the bustling city. Condé Nast Traveller’s Annual Readers’ strong reference to Jordan’s Roman past. This The dark wood furniture follows the modern art Choice Award. reference echoes throughout the interior of the deco theme used throughout the hotel. In each building as well, where natural-coloured marble, room, a high wing armchair and an ottoman polished columns and arches divide corridors stand beside a circular, open-structured side and public areas to create smaller, more intimate table in brushed chrome and glass. The beds spaces. ensure guests enjoy a plush and restful sleep. Outside, the detailing of corners, openings Business with a touch of class and windows are traditionally Jordanian. Whilst inside, the marbled, tiled or carpeted floors echo At the centre of Four Seasons Hotel Amman’s the mosaic borders and patterns for which this business, conference and banquet facilities lies region is famous. The main feature of the double- the city’s grandest ballroom. At 1,100 square height entrance hall is the huge, circular glass- metres with a 5.7 metre high ceiling, the granite topped table supporting magnificent flower and marble room offers state-of-the-art audio- arrangements, which alter the colours and mood visual and lighting systems, supported by on- of the entrance hall as they are changed each site technicians. On the fifth floor, with direct week. access from all levels, three luxuriously appointed boardrooms offer unrivalled, panoramic views over Amman. The Business Centre also provides 42 Best of Jordan
    • secretarial support services and office supplies. tempted by aromatic delights such as Peking While the whirlpool and steam room offer relaxing For guests who wish to work in the quiet privacy duck and Kong Po lobster. For an informal dining alternatives, the centre also offers classes with of their own room or suite, they’ll find en suite experience, The Square Bar serves snacks and qualified instructors for those who request it. standard business amenities including fax, light bites in a club atmosphere; secluded and computer, and high speed internet, along with intimate with an indoor capacity of just 20 guests, At the spa, guests can experience the curative multi-line telephones. and space for further 12 outside. Continental powers of the Dead Sea with speciality mud breakfast, light meals and English afternoon tea treatments and salt scrubs imbued with the Taster’s Choice can be enjoyed in The Foyer Lounge. Offering the concentrated minerals of this unique lake, feel of a contemporary, yet relaxing living room, enabling visitors to benefit from the restorative Four Seasons Hotel - Amman caters to a diversity tables are widely spaced for added privacy, while and relaxing powers of one of the world’s most of tastes through a variety of restaurants. Exquisite views over the city from the spacious outdoor extraordinary natural phenomena. Traditional dishes are served up at each venue, ranging from terrace impart an air of refined culture. facials and indigenous massages, aromatherapy, a choice of Mediterranean and international, to and a variety of herbal wraps and holistic traditional Thai and Italian specialities. Relax and Rejuvenate therapies are also offered. Seasons is the hotel’s main restaurant for Guaranteed to satisfy the diverse demands breakfast and lunch. It overlooks a landscaped of fitness enthusiasts, weary sight-seers or summer dining terrace with the feel of a business executives, the Spa and Wellness ‘secret garden’, and offers a sumptuous buffet Centre’s discrete atmosphere, attentive staff and featuring an assortment of international dishes. state-of-the-art facilities are a welcome addition For an opulent taste of Italian cuisine in a rich for the body and spirit alike. The centre includes contemporary setting, guests may head to an indoor pool and a beautifully landscaped Vivace. Asia on the other hand, which specialises outdoor pool overlooking the city. There are in Thai, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine with four treatment rooms with private showers and a contemporary and innovative edge. With flexible space to accommodate both male and panoramic views over the city and a capacity female guests. The gym contains aerobic and limited to 56, diners may sample five appetizers weight training facilities with TV monitors and CD in one with “The White Plate” before being players, and separate male and female saunas. www.fourseasons.com/amman Best of Jordan 43
    • Travel One H O S P I TA L I T Y & D I N I N G Travel One was established in 1998, at a time when there was a major niche in the market for a specialty travel agency, fully inclusive in its one-stop-shop travel services. There needed to be a professional and dedicated agency which would go the extra mile in customizing travel packages. Consequentially, Nidal Qart capitalized on that market gap, and founded Travel One to embrace all travel necessities, with an objective of concentrating on quality rather than quantity. Here, Nidal gives us a view behind the scenes of fine travel. You have established wide recognition seekers, incentive, religious and official business for your all-inclusive travel arrangements. travelers. Travel One’s experienced staff members What range of services does your company work relentlessly on providing the latest and the cover? best travel destinations and bargains. Catering to the individual needs of our clients, we offer Travel One offers a comprehensive range various on-line reservations systems connected of services. The ticketing and reservations to a worldwide network of selected hotels, car department tends to focus on all details relating rental agencies and other land-arrangement to securing the best possible flight options at the service providers. Travel One also caters to the most competitive rates. Furthermore, convenient needs of travelers visiting Jordan from abroad. provision of services includes ticket delivery, 24/7 The Inbound Department currently helps tourists hotline service, advance boarding pass issuance, coming to Jordan by designing cost-effective tour as well as the catering to any individual special plans, and arranging all land services necessary needs and requirements. for a hassle free, comfortable, and exciting stay in Jordan. Then again, if a traveler wants more than just a ticket, Travel One’s Outbound Department provides consultation to honeymooners, leisure 44 Best of Jordan
    • What would you say distinguishes Travel such as best travel seasons, important sites… How do you sustain the qualitative continuity One from other travel service providers? etc. Furthermore, we keep a part of our budget of Travel One’s status? for our staff to travel on inspection trips to the As an authorized International Air Transport destinations and hotels we offer. We send our Travel One’s success is based on the commitment Association (IATA) member, Travel One has customers to exclusive hotels and destinations and dedication of its staff members, who strive to access to the lowest airfares on all major airlines, we experienced ourselves. offer the most comprehensive and professional and offers discounted airfare tickets to the travel services to fulfill each client’s unique needs. public and other travel agencies on both retail Do you introduce seasonal travel deals? Through the dedicated efforts of our experienced and wholesale levels. Packages are flexible travel consultants, the company is known for and cost-effective, tailored to effectively suit Sometimes we do offer good bargains on ticket unequaled integrity, unmatched service, and our clients’ budgets, without compromising the prices for a limited period of time as we did recently, unsurpassed pricing. CRM and Quality control uniqueness or quality of their travel experience. but we usually don’t encourage introducing the are also part of Travel One’s strategy in sustaining Our packages come with the guarantee of so-called “hot deals of the season” as it is not its quality image and attention to details. We fulfilling customers’ individual needs, and the our specialty. We sell personalized packages that constantly research the latest travel trends, and best possible options that make traveling with fit individuals. In all cases, we always ensure that always take part in travel fairs, FAM trips and us a truly unforgettable experience. Of course, our offerings exceed our clients’ expectations. hotel inspections worldwide, in the pursuit of we also provide information on all destinations always providing customers with the latest travel from entry permissions to full tourist details trends and destinations. Best of Jordan 45
    • H O S P I TA L I T Y & D I N I N G What scenarios does the future hold for completion of the above, Travel One will be Travel One? operating in three offices: a fully operational head office for client servicing, a branch office There are five major plans that we are currently mainly for the Inbound and Marketing & Business working on achieving. Firstly, we are working Development departments, and a third office towards opening a regional office, which is a that will be used for a new project. Finally, chief step for Travel One, and will be implemented we are happy to publicize that Travel One has in the near future. Our presence in the market established the sister company, Station One, for ten years, coupled with our extensive client last year. As a first phase, Station One will focus base, means that we have formulized systems on lower rate airline ticket issuance and on a required for operational expansion in the GCC later stage aims to operate with an Outbound/ region. Travel One has also opened its new Head Inbound department. The Inbound Department Office in Abdoun area (West Amman) to serve is also expanding at a steady pace; we are as headquarters for all company operations currently working on redeveloping our software locally and regionally, and plans for its grand to further facilitate daily operations. As well, a opening during spring of this year. Consequently, new website will be up and running shortly to the number of employees is also expected to bring our business online. rise with this expansion to a total of 80. Upon www.travel1.com.jo 46 Best of Jordan
    • Best of Jordan 47
    • “People invest in your ability to deliver to them a more favorable future.” -Jeff Blackman
    • Banking & Investment CHAPTER THREE
    • HSBC Jordan BANKING & INVESTMENT 60 Prosperous Years When HSBC Jordan’s vision of becoming one of the leading banks in Jordan was shaped 60 years ago, it was guided by a few simple values: focusing on a constantly developing business model, a concise financial strategy built on solid fundamentals, and an unwavering commitment to outstanding service for customers no matter how big or small. With around 9,500 offices in 85 countries and building on its international capability and global Currently, HSBC serves customers in both territories, 312,000 employees worldwide, over reach. An innovative range of products, available Personal and Commercial Banking. In line with the 125 million customers worldwide, and a total through HSBC Amanah Finance, allows the bank’s global practices, and in order to enhance of 35 million customers registered for internet Group to provide viable Islamic alternatives to their product offerings, they have launched Credit banking, HSBC Group is certainly on track conventional finance. With this range of interests, Card Loyalty Programme, the SME Programme with its vision of becoming the world’s leading the Group is rightfully one of the leading banking in 2007, and they are considering launching financial services company. HSBC Group is one and financial services organizations in the Middle insurance products. Compared to 15 other banks of the largest banking and financial services East. in Jordan, HSBC has the number one ranking organizations in the world, with well-established in ROE, liquidity, interest ratios and profitability businesses in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, In Jordan, HSBC has been operating since 1949 growth as at 30 June 2007. the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. HSBC as one of the very first banks in the Kingdom. has always aspired to be the ‘best place to Currently, HSBC operates in three full branches, HSBC Jordan offers an extensive assortment bank’ for customers the world over. They have and two Wealth Management Offices in Amman; of trade financing and transaction management identified seven principal areas – which they call the new branch launched in 2007 was the first products and solutions, meeting a range of ‘global pillars’ – to help improve their operations, branch to be opened in Jordan in nearly a decade. customer needs from vanilla trade products products and services offered to customers. Moreover, HSBC Jordan is constantly looking for to specialised and structured solutions. HSBC Through these pillars, HSBC aims to become potential locations to expand with their branches further continues to be a pioneer in providing more ‘joined up’ and to demonstrate the real both inside as well as outside of Amman. market leading trade and supply chain solutions, benefits that their size and international network ensuring superior levels of customer satisfaction, bring to their customers. HSBC provides a full range of personal financial and nest in class product development. and wealth management services in Jordan. These Significantly, from 2005 to 2008, HSBC Jordan In 1994, the head office of The British Bank of include current and savings accounts, mortgage has had a Trade & Supply chain growth rate of the Middle East was transferred to Jersey ,and finance, term deposits and credit cards, financial 74%. in 1999, the bank was renamed HSBC Bank planning, and investment services. These are Middle East. The investment in the Egyptian delivered to customers through branch network, As one of the leading trade banks in Jordan, and subsidiary was increased to 90 percent in 2001, extensive 14-ATM networks, internationally in light of strong growth in an evolving market, and the bank was renamed HSBC Bank Egypt accessible personal internet banking service, the delivery of creative and tailored solutions for S.A.E. The British Arab Commercial Bank Limited and 24-hour phone banking service. Additionally, participants at every stage of the financial supply (formerly UBAF Bank Limited) is another one of HSBC offers a full range of treasury and capital chain will remain a priority for HSBC. Along with HSBC’s associated companies, in which Midland markets, investment, custody and commercial a steady focus on the next generation of trade Bank became a shareholder in 1972. HSBC has banking services to large companies, institutions finance solutions, HSBC will positively continue pioneered services and products in the region, and to the Government. to add value in Jordan’s ever dynamic industry. 50 Best of Jordan
    • Best of Jordan 51
    • HSBC Jordan BANKING & INVESTMENT HSBC’s first female CEO in the Middle East, Would you brief us on your background and HSBC Bank celebrates 60 years in Jordan. Karen Adams, shares her outlook on the the progression of your career? What can you tell us in retrospect? bank’s celebrated presence in Jordan for 60 years, along with its latest and future After finishing my undergraduate degree in The bank has come a long way from its early endeavors. Mathematics and Economics, followed by roots on Salt Street, fostering relationships with completing my MBA in International Finance, both businesses and Jordanians alike. The bank I joined HSBC in 1993 as a Personal Finance has been one of the main players in the industry, Services Officer in Vancouver, Canada. At the leveraging Jordan’s economic potential. In 1949, time, my work dealt mainly with mortgage the Imperial Bank of Iran was formed in Jordan as lending and branch management. Subsequently, an infant market began to be fashioned. Situated I became a Relationship Manager in Commercial in the renowned Amman Club Building on Salt Banking where I managed the portfolios of mid– Street, there were only two other banks in the sized commercial enterprises. After working with market – the Arab Bank and the Ottoman Bank. HSBC in Canada, I pursued my interest in Global Spearheading the financial markets in volatile Banking as an international manager. During times, was crucial to building an infrastructure which, I have lived and worked in Dubai, Shanghai, capable of supporting local businesses. Beijing, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Seoul, London and now in Jordan. 52 Best of Jordan
    • In terms of financial growth, what have been Jordan has witnessed continuous and Cancer Awareness Campaign. HSBC also its milestones in the last few decades? encouraging economic growth in the past has solid involvements with The King Hussein few years. What is your position on Jordan’s Cancer Foundation, Tkiyet Um Ali, and with Al As financial standards and innovative products economic development, and its effect on Hussein Society for Habilitation /Rehabilitation emanated over the years, HSBC became greatly the banking sector? of the Physically Challenged and many more. reputed for firmly adhering to a policy of prudence, On an educational side, some of our initiatives while being at the forefront of introducing various Jordan’s economic future remains bright. include university scholarships (12 in 2007 & 2 innovative services. In fact, the bank became the HSBC Jordan acts as an engine for economic more in 2008), support for children from the Holy cornerstone of lending and investment products, growth, financing infrastructure projects for Land Deaf School, and sponsorship for orphan and introduced modern banking practices large corporations and small to medium sized graduates through Al-Aman Fund. and services not yet known with many of its businesses. Jordan has also become a vital hub competitors in the market. It was the first bank in for the Levant region because of its geographic How about the strategic plan for the future Jordan to introduce ATM machines as a means location, diverse demographics and stability. of HSBC Jordan? to conduct more expedient banking transactions all through the day. Historically, HSBC has always exerted The growing network of HSBC Bank Jordan great efforts in its communal involvements. operations is swiftly expanding. The bank is HSBC’s distinguished Premier Service has Would you brief us on the bank’s corporate moving in the right direction in its expansion been largely upgraded. What have been the sustainability activities? process, with more branches being opened advances? in significant areas as a key component of its HSBC Jordan has helped strengthen the strategy. HSBC has helped Jordanians and HSBC Premier is the world’s first globally linked- fundamental social fabric of local Jordanian Jordanian businesses achieve their financial up banking service, enabling customers to communities through philanthropic partnerships. goals through enduring partnerships. Customers explore and seize all the rich opportunities the The Bank has continuously contributed to have access to financial planning for their world has to offer, wherever they may be. Through sustainable development in Jordan in 3 personal finances and businesses. HSBC is 250 centres across the globe, HSBC Premier keyareas: education, environment and the committed to continuing the support to the local makes the world more accessible whether you community. One of our landmark environment economy in Jordan, our doors are wide open for are at home or traveling abroad. Whether you partnerships was the project in Bayouda business and will always be, so we can carry on are moving to a new country to work, living in village in Al- Balqa Governate, which helped the success story that started 60 years ago. two countries or sending your kids abroad to to sustainably create environmentally friendly study, HSBC Premier’s international services solutions for their agricultural development. will help you hit the ground running. Moreover, Within local communities, we have continuously HSBC Jordan’s Premier Customers enjoy a been involved in initiatives that support the SOS distinguished area in each branch, in addition children’s homes in Aqaba, Bethlahem, and Irbid. to a fully dedicated Premier Centre within HSBC We are actively engaged in raising awareness Jordan’s Headquarters located on the 5th circle. about breast cancer with the National Breast www.jordan.hsbc.com Best of Jordan 53
    • Standard Chartered Bank BANKING & INVESTMENT Leading the Way in Asia, Africa and the Middle East Standard Chartered PLC, listed on both the London Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, ranks among the top 25 companies in the FTSE-100 by market capitalisation. The Standard Chartered London-headquartered group has operated for over 150 years in some of the world’s most dynamic markets, leading the way in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Standard Chartered’s income and number of employees have more than doubled over the last five years primarily as a result of organic growth supplemented by acquisitions. Standard Chartered aspires to be the best international bank in its markets, through leading by example to be the right partner for its stakeholders. The group employs 75,000 people, nearly half of whom are women, representing 115 nationalities of which 60 are among senior management. Standard Chartered operates from more than 1,700 branches and outlets, located in over 70 countries. The bank derives more than 90 per cent of its operating income and profits from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with balanced income derived from both Wholesale and Consumer Banking. 54 Best of Jordan
    • Standard Chartered the First Bank in Jordan The Right Partner – Leading by Example Standard Chartered is the oldest bank in Jordan, having acquired the operations of Grindlays Bank in Jordan in 2000, which had previously operated as the Ottoman Bank since 1925. Today, Standard Chartered Bank enjoys the largest footprint of any international Bank in Jordan with 6 Branches in Amman, and one in Irbid and Aqaba, serving both retail and corporate customers. The bank offers a wide range of innovative products and services, plus award-winning solutions that suit the needs of the local market, and prides itself on the fact that 99% of employees are Jordanians. As an international bank, they regard that as a Wholesale Banking – Deepen Core experience in currency markets, and the ability to great advantage in terms of combining deep Relationships and Add Value to Clients provide comprehensive and professional services local knowledge with global capabilities. to customers. The Global Markets team was the Commercial Banking first to introduce commodity hedging products to Consumer Banking - Outsell, Outserve, Out Origination and Client Coverage provide clients the local market. underwrite with innovative solutions in cash management, transaction banking, capital markets, corporate Principles & Values Personal Banking services at Standard and project financing, ratings advisory, private Chartered Bank Jordan are provided through a At Standard Chartered, success is built on equity/ principle finance, loans and trade finance network of eight branches along with the Wealth teamwork, partnerships and the diversity of services through the bank’s strong international Management Unit, which caters for priority people. At the heart of their values lies diversity network in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin customers and investment services. and inclusion. They are a fundamental part of America. Standard Chartered is committed to Personal Banking product offerings include providing its customers with creative and tailored Standard Chartered’s culture, and constitute Cash-Backed facilities, Credit Cards (Visa products that meet with their financial needs. a long-term priority in their aim to become the & MasterCard), outward / inward transfers, world’s best international bank. They believe that travelers’ cheques, auto loans, personal loans, Global Markets this diversity helps fuel creativity and innovation, mortgages, deposit accounts, ATM Cards Standard Chartered Bank Jordan is one of the supporting the development of exciting, new services, I-Banking, and Phone Banking service, leaders in the field of treasury business, providing products and services for the bank’s customers which includes “Pay-by-Phone” services. a broad array of products and services covering worldwide. Innovative and value adding products and foreign exchange, currency options, and currency services are continuously being introduced to and interest rate management. The strength of their product offering pipeline. Standard Chartered Bank lies in its extensive www.standardchartered.com/jo Best of Jordan 55
    • Standard Chartered BANKING & INVESTMENT Leading the Way in Asia, Africa and the Middle East Standard Chartered Bank Jordan’s CEO, Geoffrey Buchanan, elaborates on the bank’s presence in the Kingdom. Can you give us some background on yourself and your tenure at the bank? I was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Jordan in November 2007. Prior to this, I had been Chief Integration Officer – Hsinchu International Bank in Taiwan. Since joining the Group in June ’98, I have held various positions including Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Mauritius and Chief Financial Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe. Prior to joining the Bank, I held numerous financial and management roles in various industries in both Zimbabwe and London. There are many new venture opportunities for banks nowadays, which areas do you mainly focus on? We have balanced income growth from both Consumer and Wholesale Banking, and we will continue to invest in both businesses. In Consumer Banking, we will focus on attractive segments including Deposits, Credit Cards, SME business and Mortgage Loans. In Wholesale Banking, we will continue to support our existing customers’ financing and other banking requirements, and grow our share of foreign exchange, cash, capital markets and trading and derivatives activities. Additionally, our advisory services business focuses on selectively developing existing and emerging products (i.e. supplier chain finance, project finance, commodity finance, and advisory services). What is your overview of the banking sector in Jordan? The financial market turmoil has so far had limited impact on the banking sector in Jordan, which whilst not isolated from the global credit and liquidity problems, is insulated to a greater extent than some other countries in the region. The stringent regulatory oversight by the Central Bank of Jordan, including strong capital and liquidity requirements for banks, as well as restrictions on sector concentration will ensure the continued strength of the local banking sector during the crisis. The implementation of Basle II and enhanced capital requirements arising from it will further strengthen the sector. There are 23 banks in Jordan, with a limit on new banking licences that will be issued. We believe that there is likely to be consolidation activity in the banking sector in Jordan in the coming years. 56 Best of Jordan
    • What do you believe are the current key Standard Chartered enjoys an excellent drivers in the local banking industry? reputation for its CSR, what can you tell us about this? Jordan has benefited from the implementation of structural reforms including trade liberalization, We are committed to building a long term the establishment of economic zones, and sustainable business, which focuses on financial significant inflows of FDI. These factors have all performance, good governance, and supporting contributed towards an abundance of liquidity the communities and the environment in which in the market and have had a positive effect on we operate. In taking a long-term view of the the local banking sector. However, growth in the social/environmental impact of our business, sector will slow as the impact of the financial we use all resources at our disposal to make a market turmoil is felt in the sector in 2009. positive contribution to society. We have made a number of commitments in this regard including: Which tactics do you apply in upholding the bank’s outstanding performance? • A staff voluntary work programme enabling staff to contribute directly to We have a clear and consistent strategy. We their community. do business in markets we know intimately, • Providing university scholarships to ten with products we fully understand, and with of the Al-Aman Fund orphans customers we seek to nurture and build including summer internships, relationships with. The diversity of our income engagement in our sustainability streams, the strength of our balance sheet, and initiatives, and the opportunity of our disciplined approach to risk have proven to permanent employment with the Bank be a robust platform for growth. upon graduation. • Provision of facilities to one of the We are well positioned to continue to weather the largest microfinance institutions (MFI) in economic uncertainties, and to take advantage Jordan. This is in line with our Group’s of opportunities as they emerge across our broad pledge as part of the Global Clinton and diverse network. Initiative to help 400 million people to become economically empowered by We apply a strong talent development philosophy, 2011 through disbursing $500 million and strive to employ and develop talented through MFIs. individuals at all levels, and to differentiate • An environmental programme to create ourselves from the competition. awareness amongst staff, customers and the broader community on What figures can you share in terms of environmental issues affecting our financial performance? lives, and reducing the Bank’s direct impact on the environment. 2008 has been a year of growth for us in Jordan with good income momentum in both our Finally, what are some of the strategic goals businesses. for Standard Chartered? H1 2008 Financial Highlights: Our vision is to be “The Right Partner – Leading • Operating income increased by 20% by Example’’ to our stakeholders. We aim for to $31 million in H1 2008 continued growth with equal focus on our compared to $26 million in H1 2007. Consumer and Wholesale banking businesses, • Total assets grew by 13% to $878 while delivering sustainable superior financial million from $779 million in performance. In our Consumer Bank we aim to December 2007. outsell, outserve, out underwrite, and to continue • Loans and advances to customers rolling out innovative products. Likewise in grew by 5% to $398 million Wholesale Banking, we see continued growth from $379 million in December 2007. in our current markets and new product rollouts. • Total liabilities grew by 10 % to $783 We will continue to focus on becoming the million from $710 million in core banker to our existing customers, offering December 2007. differentiated products by leveraging off our • Non performing loans ratio was regional and international network. maintained at 3.7%. The Bank continued to make good progress during the second half of 2008, benefiting from being seen as a ‘flight to quality’ bank in difficult times. Best of Jordan 57
    • Jordan Dubai Capital BANKING & INVESTMENT Established in 2005, Jordan Dubai Capital is currently one of Jordan’s largest investment companies, and is the region’s largest asset manager in power projects. An affiliate of Dubai International Capital (DIC) - a member of the leading investment group, Dubai Holding - JD Capital aims to empower the local economy and elevate it to notable regional levels. Initially funded with JOD 210 million, JD Capital has witnessed groundbreaking growth. Today, the company manages assets exceeding USD 1 billion. JD Capital’s CEO, His Excellency Mr. Samir Al-Rifai, shares his perspective on Jordan’s investment position. 58 Best of Jordan
    • In just over two years, JD Capital has expanded immensely. What are the achievement highlights of 2008? 2008 has truly been an eventful year, but if we are to select a few of our most notable achievements across the different sectors we operate in, then one major achievement in the energy sector via JD Energy & Infrastructure (JDE&I), would be the acquisition of the Government shares valued at USD 104 million, in Electricity Distribution Company (EDCO) and Irbid District Electricity Company (IDECO) by Kingdom Electricity Company (KEC), which was established by JDE&I. Another noteworthy development is the transformation of AQARCO into Jordan The main verticals of Jordan Dubai Dubai Properties, the new investment arm Capital are: of JD Capital in the real estate and tourism sector, and the increase of its registered capital • Jordan Dubai Energy & Infrastructure from JOD 7.5 million to JOD 70 million. We (JDEI) – a developer and investor also signed an agreement with the Jordanian in energy and infrastructure sectors. Royal Medical Services (JRMS) and the British- Currently has over USD 800 million registered Eastern Holding to launch the Jordan of assets under management. Their Air Transport & Emergency Medical Evacuation largest acquisition in 2007 was the Services Company, the first private Helicopter privatization of the Central Electricity and Medical Evacuation Operation locally and Generating Company (CEGCO). regionally. In the banking sector, we acquired 52% of Industrial Development Bank (IDB) with investor-friendly environment contributes majorly • Jordan Dubai Properties (JD the aim of converting it into Jordan Dubai Islamic to the impact level which recent events have Properties) – a master developer and Bank (JDIB), which will offer a comprehensive had on the Kingdom’s financial and investment investor in the Jordanian real state & package of Shariah-compliant products to the institutions, and I am optimistic about the property sector. Jordanian market. investment progress that will be made in 2009. JDC has the experience, technical expertise, • Jordan Dubai Financial (JD JD Capital is a rightful chief player in and market insight needed to turn potential Financial) – an investor in Shariah and Jordan’s investment field. What is your view challenges into high-paying opportunities, as conventional financial institutions, of the current investment sector in Jordan? demonstrated in our company’s investment with a key focus on Shariah portfolio and history. We are confident that 2009 investments. Jordan has always been a prime destination shall be a positive year. for investment, not only on its burgeoning real estate front, but within other various economic JD Capital sustains a greatly diversified sectors as well. His Majesty King Abdullah II operational scope. How do you manage has been particular in his vision of positioning the quality and progression of all divisions Jordan as one of the Middle East’s top business under one umbrella? and tourism destinations, and as such we have witnessed considerable legislation changes, Excellence follows a very simple formula: resulting in growth across the Kingdom’s sectors. exceptional human capital, relentless capacity When that is coupled with Jordan’s stable building, enlightened leadership, and a thorough political, economic and social environments, understanding of market needs and trends. and its relatively unexploited wealth of business Each and every one of our verticals understands prospects, it makes an excellent destination for and adheres to this. We take great measures innovative investors seeking new opportunities in to ensure that each part of this equation is met different locations. Even now in the face of what by hiring the best professionals in our verticals’ has been called a global financial crisis, which has respective sectors, and by constantly developing triggered tangible upheavals in major markets in and offering high quality services. the West and some parts of the MENA region, Jordan remains a secure investment environment What does JD Capital ultimately seek to of maintained economic resilience. achieve in 2009 and beyond? How about your general expectations of We look forward to further developing our investment in 2009? investments in real estate and tourism, energy and financial sectors among others, and The recent economic and financial upheavals consistently increasing our shareholders’ returns. resulting from the global financial crisis have We are committed to our role in augmenting undoubtedly affected investment trends around the increasingly prevailing public-private sector the world, yet its effect across Jordan’s investment partnership, and as such our future projects will scene has been notably mild compared to those reflect that. exhibited regionally and globally. Jordan’s resilient, www.jdc.jo Best of Jordan 59
    • Jordan Investment Trust PLC - Jordinvest BANKING & INVESTMENT Jordinvest is a premier investment and merchant banking institution in Jordan and the region. Constantly devoting their efforts to excellence in client service, Jordinvest provides creative approaches, superior financial advice, and execution capabilities based on in-depth research and analysis. Ahmad Tantash, Chief Executive Officer, shares the company’s aspiration to advance as the leading institution with the greatest knowledge of local and regional economies and capital markets. 2008 marked a symbolic milestone for investment company offering services of asset Jordinvest as you celebrated your 10th management and corporate finance. In year anniversary. How would you reflect on the 2000, we launched Jordan’s first mutual fund, past ten years? the First Trust Fund, which is still thriving today. Despite the financial crisis we currently face, Over the past decade, we have evolved from the fund today is performing better than the a small investment boutique into a financial benchmarks and against peers in the region. We investment company, offering the full spectrum also were the first to introduce debt instruments of investment banking services. This expansion to the Jordanian market in the form of bonds underwent a series of changes to its approach, to companies seeking capital. Ultimately as the strategy and outlook. The epicenter of these company matured, Jordinvest was able to raise changes focused on building capacity by recruiting awareness levels on the importance of the role specialized individuals in the area of finance that investment banks play in contributing to a and management. Our boost of services and growing economy. This rise in awareness has product lines has since catered to an expanding helped Jordinvest expand in its product lines and rainbow of customer base, including institutions services, hence introducing several functions in and individuals alike. Accordingly, our approach order to keep up with the evolution of the regional focused on vertical growth in product and service economies, coupled by being proactive in lines, as well as horizontal growth in company supporting the culture of openness and creativity. footprint in terms of deals, clients, or geographic Therefore, we introduced Research, Advisory territory. The adopted strategy focused on finding Brokerage, Brokerage, Structured Products, win-win-win formulas between the client, the Private Equity and Merchant Banking Activities. service provided in a defined timeframe, and the expansion of Jordinvest reach to new products We have also been an active player in the IPO and markets. market by taking DAMAC Jordan, AMLAK Jordan, DARAT and Ihdathiat public in the past Jordinvest’s outlook is revisited yearly to review few years. progress and to adjust to dynamic market conditions. Being an entity of the financial and Moreover, we met success on the private equity investment realm, we vitally remain attuned and side with a regional company that went public responsive to daily developments. Therefore, recently in Dubai by the name of DEPA. We have Jordinvest was effective in sketching its short and advised, arranged and placed DEPA’s acquisition medium term outlooks, positioning it well to take to a sizable stake in JWICO of Jordan. This has advantage of the various economic cycles we also served our objective of being a player on the passed through locally and regionally. Naturally, regional arena. We become one of the pioneers meeting the expectations of our shareholders is in Jordan by venturing into the Shariah Islamic paramount. This came in the form of producing products, by launching our first Shariah Islamic all growing profitability and dividend distribution equity fund during 2008. We believe that this field year after year, thus contributing to a robust is a growing one in Jordan and the region, and balance sheet, which has been strengthened and hence it is essential for the company to establish deepened through years of accumulating profits its footing early on in the process. and capital increases. Jordinvest aggressively pursued the merchant What services has the company pioneered banking activities by addressing education and in Jordan? hospitality. We are large stakeholders in a fund that targets regional education, and aims to Jordinvest was the first public shareholding improve quality of service to the community company in 1998, acting as a financial while serving our financial interests at the time 60 Best of Jordan
    • of exit from the fund. In the same vein, we have created a hospitality fund that also aims to provide quality products to our clients in the field of food and beverages that brings under its umbrella Caribou Coffee, Schlotzky, Cinnabon and Carvel. The aim is to grow this business and leverage on the returns at the time of exit. Your team is widely recognized for its symbolic expertise. Which personnel methods are pertained to protract this quality? Our proud accomplishments would not have been tangible realities without the efforts of our team. We regard Jordinvest’s employees as the company’s key asset, thus we have taken measures to create a positive work environment, and to offer competitive pay packages. We also make sure to recruit high caliber, experienced new members, which have the necessary skills and qualifications to help investors realize and achieve their diverse financial goals. HR development is one of our top priorities; we actively provide in- house and external training to ensure our staff is abreast of the latest developments, and is able to maintain the high quality service we uphold. What is Jordinvest’s future vision? I am proud of everything we have achieved so far, and I am confident that the future is filled with success. Our assets under management are growing exponentially, our research products are gaining a reputation synonymous with impartial analysis, our corporate finance team is comprised of regional specialists, and our operations are run according to international standards of excellence. In addition to building on these achievements, we continue to envision Jordinvest as an assertive Jordanian entity, with sustained regional growth. As we have been approaching it over the past four years, our model will continue to focus on a blend of strategies that ties local expertise with regional companies entering Jordan, or regional companies outsourcing some of their activities to Jordinvest. As well, this may come in the form of alliances, partnerships, representations, or a service provider. www.jordinvest.com.jo Best of Jordan 61
    • “This is a fantastic time to be entering the business world, because business is going to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 50.” -Bill Gates
    • Corporate Company Profiles CHAPTER FOUR
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    • Best of Jordan 65
    • United Technology Solutions (UTS) C O R P O R AT E C O M PA N Y P R O I L E S Helping Build the Foundations of Jordan’s Technology Infrastructure “We have followed a path that will allow the technological revolution to harness our available talent into productive sectors that can fuel and sustain economic growth” His Majesty King Abdullah II Daoud Abboud and Raad Al Majali When his Majesty King Abdullah II embarked Four years and countless projects later, the vision Born out of a determined initiative, UTS grew on an ambitious technology promotions has bloomed to reality as UTS has grown from a to provide strategic turn-key business and program in 2004, he described it to the small firm to a leading player in the country and IT designed solutions to a wide spectrum of BBC as “big ideas for a little country.” As the region. The pinnacle of these achievements businesses and industries. UTS’s life mission is Jordan ushers in a new era of technology, came with UTS’s signing of a strategic framework to be a pioneer in delivering solutions based on some of these big ideas will come from agreement with the Jordanian government to world-class products of international standards. United Technology Solutions (UTS). UTS, provide it with Oracle products and services. In a mere 4 years, it has fulfilled and surpassed a leading Jordanian technology solutions This was a demonstration of the key role that its intended mission by managing to vertically firm, plays a major role with its subsidiary UTS plays in the national technology agenda, integrate all of its services such as product companies in the eventual blooming of a its commitment to advancing technology assets resale, licensing, business consultancy, software world-class economy, backed by a brace of in the country, building local human resources implementation, infrastructure solutions, training technological foundations. capacities, and advancing highly specialized and other IT support services. In its relentless technology and business applications training. pursuit of software development and innovation, The success of its operations in Jordan has UTS has gone further by developing the latest become a foreshadow to eventual achievements technologies using the Java platform as it in the region as it established a new subsidiary in acquired MISC. Saudi Arabia. 66 Best of Jordan
    • UTS has a lot to offer to potential clients; 20 also has a dedicated Testing and Certification years of experience in the information technology Center, which is authorized by Prometric and industry, strategic alliances with prominent IT VUE. It is also a Microsoft Certified Partner suppliers, and a motivated work force. The for Learning Solutions, an Oracle Authorized clients of UTS have included every segment Education Partner, and an AutoDesk Training of the economy and the society including the Center. Greater Amman Municipality, Royal Jordanian, Jordan Armed Forces, and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, as well as entities in the banking, finance, and telecommunication sectors. UTS also provides a variety of supporting technology solutions through its subsidiary companies: CompuBase International, Synaptic, and Convergence. Synaptic Synaptic is a joint endeavour between UTS and market professionals in the networking industry. Widely regarded as the networking arm for UTS, Synaptic offers myriad networking solutions and services. These services fulfill different vertical and horizontal markets needs, with a focus on exemplary services. As a Cisco Silver-Certified Partner, the company offers total network infrastructure solutions. Other services offered include networking professional services, long- haul fibre optics and services, and structured cabling solutions partnering with world wide industry leaders. Convergence “Over the last few years, UTS has embraced the broad-sighted view of His Majesty’s Convergence Consulting & Technology, a UTS vision. We have promoted a human-centric company, has been established to provide the approach that will benefit students across latest Microsoft licensed solutions and services the country, support a new segment of to the local and regional market. As a Microsoft entrepreneurs and technology professionals, Gold-Certified Partner, Convergence offers assist returning Jordanian expatriates, and its corporate accounts exceptional software transfer skills and knowledge towards a deployment and technical support. In addition, as new generation walking on the path of the a Large Accounts Reseller (LAR), Convergence technological revolution. This makes UTS a provides Enterprise Licensing Solutions and critical color of Jordan’s technology scene Microsoft Business Consultancy Services. as we help guide it to a brighter future.” Convergence is committed to developing long Raad Al Majali - Chairman of the Board at UTS term relationships with clients, and to suppling total end-to-end solutions based on Microsoft Business Solutions for small, medium and Akram Abu Hamdan “Over the last few years, UTS has managed enterprise level customers. to exceed all expectations by consistently “Education comes at the forefront of expanding our portfolio of products and CompuBase Jordan’s leadership agenda, through services in a desire to provide end-to- A subsidiary of UTS, CompuBase International relentless efforts aimed at reforming and end services, extend our network of key provides computer training and certification developing the country’s human capital. As partners, and increase our market share programs through a wide range of courses for part of the DIP Fund’s contribution to this in Jordan. This has been supported by beginners, intermediate, and advanced users, initiative, and to further enhance human market coverage to Saudi Arabia. Our future as well as IT professionals. This encompasses skills in Jordan through IT training, the DIP geographical expansion includes North Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Fund and UTS, have capitalized on their African countries, spanning from Egypt to Training, CAD Training, Graphics Design Training, know-how and partnered to form a platform Morocco. Our motivation is inspired by His and Soft Business Skills training. CompuBase that will develop IT skills at the community Majesty’s vision of building a knowledge level through the establishment of the based economy, and utilizing local talent Oracle Academy.” which contributes to the national ICT Akram Abu Hamdan – Delegated Board industry.” Member of DIP Daoud Abboud - CEO UTS Technologies www.uts.com.jo Best of Jordan 67
    • Al Tajamouat Group C O R P O R AT E C O M PA N Y P R O I L E S Al Tajamouat Group was initially born Tell us about the establishment and progress our industries since then have been of limitless with the establishment of the Specialized of Al Tajamouat Industrial City? value. Investment Compounds in 1994, aka locally as Al Tajamouat and in the financial market Our first and leading project is Al Tajamouat Tell us about Al Tajamouat Catering and as SPIC. Having started as a real estate Industrial City, developed in 1997. Our prime Dormitory Services, and its expansion in development company, Al Tajamouat today function is to build infrastructure, ready made Qatar? is renowned for its specialized industrial industrial buildings, and tailor made buildings, parks, as well as residential and commercial serving the local market with proper industrial Spinning from the solid progression of Specialized projects. Chairman of Al Tajamouat Group, workshop and commercial units. When the QIZ Investment Compounds plc over the past 15 Halim Salfiti, shares the latest on the agreement was signed with Jordan and the years, the company was organically led to the diversification and expansions of their USA in 1999, Al Tajamouat was designated as creation of Al Tajamouat Catering and Dormitory developments. a privately owned QIZ area, significantly meaning Services (paid up capital of JD10 million); now that it would start providing duty and quota provides 4,500 meals per day, and houses 8,500 free access for products manufactured within workers. The availability of the on-site dormitory the zone, to be exported to the US market. complex and the industrial catering unit led to a Hence, Al Tajamouat became one of the first success story in attracting local workers from privately owned industrial zones with a QIZ various remote areas of Jordan to join the work status in Jordan. From there onwards, the QIZ force of Al Tajamouat Industrial City, helping designation paved the way for major business create jobs for thousands across Jordan. The expansion opportunities, seeing an immediate company has further expanded in providing and steady increase in the attraction of foreign its services outside of the industrial zone, and and local investors. Consequentially, it became entered into franchise business operating the largest privately owned industrial park locally, restaurants in Amman; Lina Café. Building on and the largest exporter to the US market out of the expertise of this fast progressing division, the one area in Jordan, with an annual export worth company now has a significant presence in the 500 million. Overall, the introduction of the QIZ GCC market, namely in Qatar, where labours’ has exposed us to the largest consumer market dormitory compounds are built to provide full in the world - the USA. The new technologies, services for workers in developing projects. production standards, and skills transferred to 68 Best of Jordan
    • There is quite a buzz in Jordan over TAJ investing in the development of both ready and Shopping Centre, what’s the scoop? tailor-made industrial units of different sizes and categories, along with developing commercial, TAJ is being established with our strategic partners warehouses, office spaces, and labour residential in Bahrain - Unicorn Investment Bank, and is the units within the park. Additionally, it includes chief project by Al Tajamouat for Touristic Projects a comprehensive line of facilitative services in (known in the financial market as MERM), which the zone such as industrial catering, security, primarily develops shopping malls and touristy housekeeping, medical services, engineering projects. Located in the heart of Abdoun, TAJ support, and a business centre for Al Tajamouat’s (currently under final progress) will house an investors. Also, several governmental & private upper scale range of retailers, fine dining, and sector on-site services will be available to all several innovative entertainment facilities, with an investors & tenants of Al Tajamouat Industrial estimated development capital of JD 120 million. Park. Furthermore, it will focus on attracting small TAJ is designed by the prominent architectural to medium industries in several manufacturing & house, F&A of California; the same house behind service sectors; options for sale, rent or lease-to- the design of “The Mall of the Emirates” in Dubai, own will be offered to potential clients, allowing and “Fashion Island” in California to mention a flexibility for ideally suited options to start up few. projects within the park. Under Al Tajamouat Group Umbrella Al Tajamouat Industrial City in Egypt signifies What effect have your projects had on • Specialized Investment Compounds, massive growth. Tell us about it. Jordan as a whole? Jordan • Al Tajamouat Industrial City, Jordan Budding from the achievements of Al Tajamouat In developing our projects, Al Tajamouat’s • Pluto, Jordan Industrial City in Jordan, the Egyptian marketing activities include excessive travelling • Al Tajamouat for Catering & Housing government invited us to exploit our industrial to global destinations, to promote Jordan as a Company, Jordan development know-how in Egypt. Thus currently, prime and affable investment environment. Our • Al Tajamouat for Storage & Logistics the development of 1.1 million square meters of utmost devotion in promoting our country has Services, Jordan prime industrial land in Egypt is in progress (to be resulted in solid contributions to the local socio- • Al Tajamouat Investment Company, developed over 7 years), under a new company by economic development from creating thousands Egypt Al Tajamouat Group established in Egypt for that of jobs for local workers, to boosting added value • Al Tajamouat for Tourism Projects sole purpose, with a paid up capital of 100 million to the industries within the zone. In sequence, Company, Jordan Egyptian Pounds. Al Tajamouat Industrial Park- the trade balance of Jordan with the USA market Egypt will provide state-of-the-art infrastructure, has been tremendously enhanced. Best of Jordan 69
    • Amwal Invest C O R P O R AT E C O M PA N Y P R O I L E S Survival of the Fittest 2008 was a tough year for banks and equity markets. It started with a subprime mortgage crisis that hit the real estate markets in the US, and created a global credit crunch, leading to the withering of investor confidence. In the midst of an unprecedented global financial crisis, a company that has survived the storms of financial turbulence is Amwal Invest. Hailing itself as the premier pilot investment bank in Jordan, Amwal has worked tirelessly in the last few years to differentiate itself as a safe, low-risk, value-driven haven in the increasingly precarious waters of financial investments. The Jordan Capital Market Conference, held The asset management department puts in New York in September 15-19, saw the emphasis on long-term perspectives, capital assembly of the cream de la crop of the Jordanian preservation, and optimization of returns. investment scene. Among powerhouse names The asset management team has an active such as Arab Bank and Taameer, a smaller management style, which relies heavily on Jordanian institution, Amwal Invest, left its mark fundamental analysis, use of quantitative on the conference through its recent success techniques, and in-house equity research. The and its historical precedents. Amwal was started investment process is designed to achieve greater a mere three years ago in 2005 as a public performance through disciplined asset allocation shareholding company specializing in investment and portfolio construction, market monitoring, banking services. Consequently, Amwal has and continuous portfolio rebalancing. chartered a phenomenal growth curve to become a leading investment house in Jordan. Secondly, the corporate finance department focuses on public offerings and rights issues With a mission to be the leading investment as it managed a number of the biggest IPOs bank that serves institutions’ needs, elevates and Rights Issue in Jordan including Taameer business standards, honors the shareholders Holding, First Jordan and Ahlyeh Enterprises. and contributes to the local community, Amwal The department also carries out equity evaluation Invest has made its stand in the market. As a full and has completed a record number of Equity pledged investment bank, Amwal offers asset Valuation reports. Finally, the research and management, corporate finance, brokerage, and analysis department caters to the needs of clients research and analysis. with vested interests both locally and regionally by providing daily market reports, weekly local and regional reports, equity reports, sector reports, economic reports and financial analysis. Having rolled into the year 2009, the quality of Amwal’s management, staff and its set strategy will continue to ensure the success of Amwal in the midst of the financial crisis. This is a proof of the foundations it has built in the equity markets in Jordan and a further demonstration of its firm desire to become the leading investment bank in www.amwalinvest.jo Jordan. 70 Best of Jordan
    • The Arab Financial Investment Company Leaders in the World of Investments The brokerage arm of Amwal, the Arab Financial Investment Company (AFIN), has been clients’ base by opening branches across the invaluable in giving a helping hand to building investor confidence required for safe Kingdom. AFIN has established branches in investments. The story of AFIN has been of entrepreneurship and superiority; a legacy it Zarqa and Irbid, and plans are under way to open has sought in charting its path to building trust. a new branch in Aqaba. AFIN had the distinction of being ranked first AFIN’s main fields of operations are Brokerage, among the 69 brokerage firms in Jordan for a Margin Trading, Portfolio Management, and number of years. This accomplishment evolved Financial Consulting. It provides Margin Trading from years of commitment to proficiency and to its clients, and offers them up to 50% financing quality of service provided to its clients and the to allow for bigger investment capabilities in market; a commitment that furthers the strategy return for a reasonable interest rate on the directed towards servicing leading local and borrowed amount. Secondly, AFIN clients international investors. are being provided with portfolio engineering on both discretionary and non-discretionary AFIN started as an entrepreneurial excursion basis by the asset management team. Finally, that took off in the year 2000 by a motivated, through partnership with Amwal Invest, AFIN young management that landed the company as provides clients with advisory and consulting the pilot firm that stands out in the market with services conducted by a professional team that remarkable achievements and reputable record. has capitalized on solid knowledge, developed through daily engagement in stock markets. From its modest beginnings, the staff at AFIN With these three exceptional operations, and its went on to break market records in volume- commitment to quality, AFIN will continue to be traded sets. In 2008, the firm attained 8.7% of the leading brokerage firm in Jordan. total brokerage activity in the whole market and registered a volume trade of over JD 3.5 billion. Due to the impressive quality of its customer services and the high efficiency levels provided by its licensed brokers, AFIN was able to attract global and international institutions & portfolio managers. With its fortified position, AFIN is knocking the retail frontier and broadening its www.afinvestment.com Best of Jordan 71
    • “The medium is the message.” -Marshall McLuhan
    • Media & Marketing CHAPTER FIVE
    • The International Advertising Association (IAA) MEDIA & MARKETING Over the last decade, advertising in Jordan The International Advertising Association (IAA) Jordan Chapter has evolved from an obscure activity is a one-of-a-kind, strategic partnership which practiced by major companies, into an champions the common interests of the full The IAA Jordan Chapter was reactivated in essential fibre of the Jordanian economy. spectrum of disciplines across the marketing November 2000 under the Presidency of Mr. The phenomenal growth of advertising communications sector; from advertisers Sharif AbuKhadra, and has flourished to become expenditure reflects this new reality, as and media companies, to agencies and a recognized, highly active and influential advertising expenditure in 2008 amounted direct marketing firms, as well as individual organization in the local and regional market to a whooping US$303 million. Behind practitioners. The IAA has become a brand place. In February 2009, the IAA Board Members these extraordinary numbers, is the champion, because all elements which create a elected four sub-committees to actively pursue International Advertising Association (IAA), brand’s reputation require the freedom to flourish its goals. The Membership Development an organization that has traditionally been without unwarranted restrictions. Committee acquires and sustains members the advocate for the advertising industry. interest; The Functions and Awards Committee With an established history since its founding in is responsible for fund-raising and organizing 1937, the IAA has an unprecedented international events such as the IAA Awards, Advertising and network in over 70 countries. They have 4,000 Marketing Communications Conferences, and individual members across corporate, marketing services, organizational and academic sectors – all involved in the branding, communications and marketing disciplines. They also have 56 corporate members, 57 accredited institutes, and 27 organizational members. 76 Best of Jordan
    • Global Members The global membership is diverse. It comprises of individual members from across the communications value chain that include: • Corporate Sector – including Dow Jones & Company, the Boeing Company, the Procter & Gamble Company, Shell International, Unilever plc. • Organizational / Association Sector – including American Advertising Federation (USA), International Institute of Advertising (Russia). • Agency Sector (including media) – including Young & Rubicam Brands, Dentsu, DDB. • Academic Sector – including Charles Sturt University (Australia) and Emerson College (USA). the Annual Ball; The Legal and Code of Practice Professional Development…Education Committee follows-up on the legal registration of the IAA, legal matters pertaining to advertising IAA’s core professional development programs and marketing practices, and upholding a code have proven high success rates throughout the of ethics and business practices among its years. Over 35,000 students have graduated with members; and The Education and Awareness IAA’s Diploma in Marketing Communications, Committee enhances members’ knowledge through 57 (and growing) accredited institutes. of marketing communications issues, and The Diploma provides a sound platform for cooperates with universities and colleges to future careers in the marketing, branding and enhance their marketing curriculum. communications industry, in addition to a university education. Moreover, every year the Benefits association runs the IAA InterAd; the global student advertising competition which offers a IAA offers members a platform for industry multitude of other learning opportunities. The issues, where they learn about the latest industry diploma and the student advertising competitions trends through publications and events that take provide much more than academic training - they place. Members are also exposed to networking provide a well-rounded, global perspective, and opportunities through providing them with proper a hands-on learning experience. contacts or introductions. Furthermore, members are offered an educational platform, where IAA Through their thorough involvement in the has been running their accreditation program for marketing and communications industry, and over 20 years now. their solid commitment to the next generation of marketing proffessionals, IAA will strongly continue to reach and tap into widespread and diverse audiences. www.iaajordan.org Best of Jordan 77
    • “The greatest wealth is health.” -Publius Vergilius Maro
    • Health & Wellness CHAPTER SIX
    • The Farah Hospital H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S Hope beyond Borders Lead by Dr. Zaid Kilani since 1978, the Farah Hospital’s distinguished torch of expertise is now shared with the family’s next dynamic generation; Sanad, Sharaf, Farah, and Karam seize the hospital’s proficient, widely prominent medical services. Way far from its start as a small obstetrics and gynaecology clinic, today the Farah Hospital’s full-fledged 12 storey building specializes in Obstetrics, Gynaecology, and Reproductive Medicine, plus other specialties including pediatrics, neonatology, plastic surgery, dental surgery, and general surgery among others. The Farah Hospital’s IVF Centre is rightfully considered one of the largest worldwide, running around 4000 cycles a year. Its introduction to Jordan and the region sums Dr.Zaid’s persona; a man of limitless ambition and a most renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist whose whole life has been dedicated to medicine, and the unwavering welfare of his patients. Here is how his four gifted children share the mantle of The Farah Hospital - a reputed name well beyond borders. Sanad Kilani and patients wards,” said Sanad on his father’s stamina. Currently, he works at the hospital while With Bachelors in Biomedical Sciences from commencing residency training in Obstetrics and England (2001), and Bachelors in Medicine from Gynaecology. He is involved in research activities the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin (2006), mostly relating to the IVF department under Sanad’s pursuance of a career in medicine came Dr.Zaid’s umbrella, labour ward, clinics, and to him almost organically, having role-modeled operating theatres, plus executing new medical his father all his life. From early hospital rounds projects such as the new labour ward on the 10th with his father, to experiencing the operating floor. Additionally, Sanad is involved in the new theatre where he watched surgeries at a later radiology department, ensuring that all essential stage, Sanad had always been fascinated by details from medical equipment to floor planning medicine. “My father’s bonding with patients, are up to par with Dr. Zaid’s firm standards. and his efforts in improving their quality of life beyond excellent medical care, but also by his Sharaf Kilani empathic, sensitive nature, has taught me how to assess situations from diverse perspectives. At Having gained his Business BA from Italy in the hospital he always arrives first and leaves last, 2004, Sharaf returned to Jordan eager to leap making it a priority to check on every floor from into the hospital’s administrative wing. Since his the kitchen all the way to the operating theatres joining, Sharaf prompted myriad patient care 80 Best of Jordan
    • enhancements which the hospital is increasingly medical supply factory, which will go in hand in results.” Out of the 4,000 cycles run at the IVF famed for. His upbringing amidst doctors and hand with the region’s advanced medical industry. centre yearly, each case is unique; hence Farah exposure to hospital particulars, coupled with sees that every case is treated individually. his perfectionist knack for business, have Farah Kilani Working with devoted staff and having access certainly shaped the foundation for his current to state-of-the-art facilities, grants patients with position. Today he fills the active role of Deputy Farah studied Human Genetics at Nottingham the best treatments, explained Farah, whose General Manager. Along with the hospital’s daily University, then gained a Masters degree in biggest inspiration comes from her father. administration and the running of its financial side, Prenatal Genetics and Fetal Medicine at UCL – “Witnessing my dad’s wholehearted, tireless he manages Farah’s HR aspects which he regards London in 2005. She has been working in the work, spontaneously inspires me to take part in highly in terms of up-keeping an expanding team hospital’s lab for 3 years, where her responsibilities what he has started,” Farah passionately spoke of progressive hospital devotees. Most recently demand concrete attention to maintaining lab of Dr.Zaid. On the rewards of the job she added, however, Sharaf’s endeavors revolve around success rates. “To maintain standards, my lab “When my phone rings at a random hour and a venturing into manufacturing medical supplies. involvement is a daily must; remaining ahead of patient screams ‘I’m Pregnant!’ the hard work “Considering the well-established, ever- procedures is an uncompromising priority,” Farah crystallizes and I’m reminded that every long advancing medical field in the Middle East, and in remarked. On her role in the IVF Department she hour is worthwhile.” Also, Farah is overseeing the Jordan especially, the sophisticated autonomy of said, “IVF is a field that is continuously improved, hospital’s new Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis locally manufactured essential supplies will prove so we always aim at matching and implementing (PGD) procedure, which offers a chance of greatly resourceful in serving the entire regional its rapid developments. Keeping up-to-date a healthy newborns for couples who may be market,” commented Sharaf on the plans for a is our foremost tool in offering exceptional threatened by having babies with diseases such as Thalassemia. Best of Jordan 81
    • H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S Karam Kilani the breadth of skills that I had started gaining at the hospital from a very young age,” said Karam, Presently attending an international university in who has accompanied his father numerously Switzerland to obtain a degree in International on day-long hospital rounds. Consequently, Management and Finance, Karam aims at joining Karam is mindful of the hospital’s improvement Farah’s managerial wing in its future activities. prospects and essential opportunities, as well Knowing this major would help drive the hospital to as its achievements. On inspiration, Karam its fullest potential from a managerial perspective, commented, “I owe a great deal to my mother Karam believes that the hospital’s success relies who has taught me how to runabout things heavily on its administrative aspect. “Someone without compromising my integrity. The future once told me, ‘there’s no bad business there’s looks bright and I am anticipating my involvement bad management,’ and I strongly agree with this. beyond maintaining current hospital standards… Studying management and finance will enhance as my father always says, ‘One must always be a step ahead.’ ” 82 Best of Jordan
    • Future of the Farah Hospital The Farah Hospital: Under the guidance of Dr. Zeid, and the collective Landmarks in History specializations of his children, the Farah Hospital is actively planning implementations of new Early 1980’s: Dr. Zaid introduced IVF or therapies and research relating to infertility and “test-tube” babies locally and regionally. stem cell, seeking to further increase the success 1987: the first IVF baby was born. rates in IVF. With these plans underway, the initial 1994: His Majesty the Late King Hussein results look brightly promising, as the hospital inaugurated the 4 storey Farah Hospital. further aims at expanding its departments to offer 2001: Dr. Zaid further expanded the care for a diversified group of specialties. This hospital to a 12 storey building advancement is particularly true to the hospital’s 2007: Inauguration of the new state of the obstetrics, gynaecology, assisted reproductive art labour ward. unit, and the inauguration of the advanced 2009: Inauguration of the new state of the imaging department (radiology) in 2009. The art imaging department. Farah Hospital currently enjoys a scientific and moral confidence, as well as vast capabilities with its wealth of experience, diligent accuracy, and modern equipment. Still, Dr. Zaid remains keen on yet added hospital developments, creating the ideal, state-of-the-art medical facility within the walls of Farah for national and global patients alike. www.farah-hospital.org Best of Jordan 83
    • The Anantra Spa at the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S Dead Sea Kempinski is famed worldwide for its The quintessentially luxurious treatments of the unique hide-away resorts. The Anantra Anantara Spa are enhanced by Ozone-rich air, Spa - Kempinski Hotel Ishtar’s keystone and mineral-loaded sea water and mud, bringing - is certainly no exception. Hailed as the together century old therapies and the most largest spa in Middle East, the Anantra is innovative signature treatments. All treatments gorgeously modeled as the ideal retreat for at this exclusive spa are performed by highly- those dreaming of a sanctuary to experience trained Far Eastern therapists, making it unique ultimate pampering and relaxation, whilst of its nature in Jordan and one to rival spas in rejuvenating their body and soothing their other far-flung locations around the world. This soul. is by far one of the most comprehensive and spectacular spas on an international scale. 84 Best of Jordan
    • The Dead Sea organically platforms the perfect In addition to the exciting features and facilities, environment for the Anantara. With a main focus the spa also contains a full-fledged Tennis club, Anantara Spa: on the views toward the sea, it is designed to and special Simplex and Duplex Spa Suites have • Covers an area of 10,000 sqm create an empire of tranquility and peacefulness, been created within close proximity to the spa harmoniously intertwined with nature. The itself so that one may commute from room to • Over 20 Treatment Rooms Anantara Spa boasts 20 treatment rooms, and spa conveniently. The Simplex Spa Suite is over • Outdoor Therapy Lounges a large studio where guests may learn and 55 sqm and designed using stone and wood, practice the art of Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation and featuring an all natural stone bathroom with luxury • 28 Spa Suites (simplex and duplex) Pilates. As well, it includes several breathtaking amenities and complimentary Dead Sea bath • Hammam Pools outdoor therapy lounges, 28 spa suites (Simplex salts with incredible views overlooking the Dead • Outdoor and Indoor Jacuzzi & Duplex), a Moroccan Hammam (with traditional Sea. The Deluxe Spa Suites are made of similar Moroccan treatment), outdoor and indoor material and rests over 85 sqm, boasting plasma • Watsu Pool (Water Shiatsu) Jacuzzis, steam rooms, Ayurveda, natural Dead screen TVs, a spacious living room area and two • Steam Room Sea water pool, Asian therapies and local salt bathrooms, all designed in contemporary style. and mud treatments. • 2 Dead Sea Pools Themed by aspects of astronomy, the Spa offers • Local Salt and Mud Treatments The spa also includes an installed hydro pool full a number of treatments to ensure that every of bubble seats and wall jets, and a panoramic taste and preference finds its satisfaction. Under • Light Cosmetic Surgery creative lap pool that features star-sky fiber- categories such as Venus, Mercury and Mars, optic lighting, complimented by heated beds for guests may choose from an extensive menu relaxation and meditation. of tantalizing treatments. In all its efforts and all its splendor, the Anantara Spa is dedicated A private Watsu pool allows guests to discover to creating a haven of calm, serenity and ultimate relaxation with a gentle form of body rejuvenation. therapy performed in water and combining elements of massage, shiatsu, muscle stretching and dance. Moments of stillness alternate with rhythmical flowing movements, which free the body in ways impossible on land. Watsu provides increased mobility and flexibility, reduces stress and anxiety, improves sleep and digestion, and imparts an overall sense of wellbeing. www.kempinski.com Best of Jordan 85
    • Latest Food and Nutrition Trends in Jordan H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S George Abu-Jarur became a Registered Nutritionist (R.Nutr.) with the Nutrition Society, UK, after graduating from Nottingham University. He retired from Medical Nutrition services at Saudi Aramco, after serving for 20 years as a Senior Dietician. He performed in-patient and out- patient consultation duties in the Dhahran Health Center. Here, he shares the latest Food & Nutrition Trends for the food industry. With the increasing prevalence of obesity and energy foods in the United States, forecasts sales Diabetes type II as a pressing epidemic in many of functional foods to increase to US$ 8.5 billion Western and Arab societies, there are growing in 2009. Energy products are concentrated within demands for healthy foods and drinks. More and the confectionary and soft drink categories, but more consumers in Jordan are concerned about also include other products ranging from fortified the health benefits of daily food consumptions. peanuts through to nutraceutical flatbreads. The following three mega trends stretch from convenience, lifestyle, and health to age, gender Heart health is the second largest category, and sensory factors, determining the success reflecting millions of Jordanian’s susceptibility and shape of new food products to dominate the towards cardiac problems. Heart health products market in the near future. range from cereal to olive oil, covering all products that reputable food agencies recognize Functional Food and Drinks as reducers of coronary heart disease risks. The functional food category has the highest sales Organic and Natural Food potential according to food and drinks industry executives. The world’s ageing population is The terms “natural” and organic are not mutually increasing demand for functional and beauty exclusive: many products are marketed as products, including anti-ageing foods and drinks. ‘natural’ without organic certification. Likewise, a All in all, the main demand is energy foods; the number of organic products do not incorporate biggest functional need which drives food sales the term ‘natural’ in marketing, or in the brand across the world. Datamonitor, a producer of or product name. Many consumers view terms 86 Best of Jordan
    • such as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ as indicative of a As organics and gourmet seamlessly integrate, include everything from packaging redesigns to high quality, healthy product. In line with growing indulgent foods such as chocolates, cheeses, food safety concerns, based on conflicting needs health and nutrition awareness, this sector is and condiments are now available in organic to create tamper-resistant and sanitary packaging expected to go from strength to strength. variants. These additions mark an important that do not require sophisticated kitchen tools or development in the evolution of organics, where a magician’s touch to open. Recent food scares have raised awareness of the consumers graduate from perceiving organics as importance of organic foods. These scares are a merely ‘natural’, to regarding it as a tastier and an Such food and nutrition trends are essential result of the long-term health impact of pesticide even trendier option than mainstream products. indicators of food production inclinations which residues on food, unhealthy ingredients such as will be catching up in Jordan, as with the rest of hydrogenated oils, and the use of genetically Age Awareness the world. This year will prove to be an important modified organisms (GMOs) in food products. time for both food producers and consumers, Since organic food is free of all such processed When it comes to healthy food products, as the increasing emphasis on healthy food factors, it has been given the status of health children remain the prime focus of the industry. becomes the cornerstone of every diet and food foods. The majority of industry executives believe that sales strategy. healthy products for children will have the highest In addition to health, concern for the environment new product development (NPD) activity over the is also driving a sect of consumers towards next five years. Seniors will also have a strong adopting an organic dietary regime. The market NPD focus, however the aging trend involves of non-dairy, organic beverages is significantly more than ingredients and formulations. The rising due to increased demand for organic doubling number of the 65+ years age group by juices and drinks, and is set to witness fast 2030, means an increased need for more user- call +962 7 9922 1752 growth throughout a 10 year analysis period. friendly containers. The logistics involved can johealthydiet.maktoobblog.com Best of Jordan 87
    • “The fool wanders, a wise man travels.” -Thomas Fuller, British Author
    • Tourism Destinations CHAPTER SEVEN
    • The Royal Society for Conservation of Nature (RSCN) T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S “All that Jordan has accomplished in nature conservation, both at the national and the international level, enables us to enter the new millennium with confidence, supported by the great legacy of King Hussein and of international initiatives to conserve our planet, you [RSCN] are seeking to safeguard our rich natural resources for the welfare of future generations.” - His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) aims to conserve Jordan’s biodiversity, integrate its conservation programs with socio-economic develop- ment, and promote wider public support and action for the protection of the natural environment within Jordan and its neighbouring countries. RSCN believes that conservation and economic development can go hand-in-hand, seeing the potential in Jordan’s nature to provide an alternative economy for members of less-privileged rural communities. Helping people…helping nature conservation, namely, substantial income for biodiversity protection, employment and revenue RSCN was established in 1966 under the for local communities. This increases support patronage of His Majesty the late King Hussein. from local people for conservation, as well as An independent, non-profit and non-government garners more support from decision makers and organization, the RSCN is devoted to the the Jordanian population in general, who are able conservation of Jordan’s natural resources. The to see the tangible social and economic value of Government of Jordan has given RSCN the nature conservation. responsibility of protecting the Kingdom’s natural heritage, making RSCN one of the few voluntary RSCN accomplishes its role of conserving organizations in the Middle East to be granted Jordan’s natural resources by setting up and such public service mandate. As a result of its managing protected areas to safeguard Jordan’s pioneering conservation work, the Society has natural environment and biodiversity. Research is achieved international recognition. also conducted regularly to provide a scientific base in aiding conservation efforts. To raise RSCN’s eco-tourism projects - seen as a model awareness on environmental issues, in the for sustainable development in the Mediterranean hopes of raising a nature conscious generation, region - are bringing several benefits for nature RSCN invests in educating school students 90 Best of Jordan
    • by establishing nature conservation clubs, up workshops to provide them with technical boxes. All of these initiatives are tied to a strong providing educational programs in the reserves, expertise and designs. The trained women are promotional concept that uses the conservation and integrating biodiversity concepts in school then offered job opportunities in eco-tourism and philosophy as the main selling point. curricula. The Society also provides training and product development such as jewelry making. capacity building for environmental practitioners Through these socio-economic programs, Nature Shop and other institutions throughout Jordan and the RSCN also inspires local communities to protect Middle East. RSCN further promotes public action Jordan’s natural heritage. The finished products The Nature Shop at Wild Jordan offers nature for environmental protection through campaigns are eventually sold through select retail outlets, products which come directly from numerous and activities organized by an advocacy most notably at Wild Jordan, in Jabal Amman. socio-economic projects throughout Jordan’s committee of volunteers from different sectors. All in all, RSCN ensures the socio-economic nature reserves. All products purchased at Wild RSCN’s Conserving Biodiversity programs development of rural communities by creating Jordan contribute directly to the protection include mammals, reptiles & amphibians, birds, job opportunities through eco-tourism, craft of Jordan’s natural heritage. The Nature invertebrates, and flora. production, and other nature-based businesses. Shop of RSCN includes: Jewellery, Leather Among the small businesses created to date Products, Ostrich Eggs, Orjan Soap, and other Creating Job Opportunities are hand-crafted silver jewelry, organic jams and miscellaneous products. fruit leathers, painted ostrich eggs, sandblasted RSCN creates job opportunities for women who frames, environmental board games, natural live in and around the nature reserves by setting 100% olive oils, as well as goat leather nature Best of Jordan 91
    • T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S Highlights of RSCN’s Eco-tourism Projects Eco-tourism facilities and activities have been created in four protected areas so far: Dana, Mujib, Ajloun and Azraq. These areas have widely different habitats and landscapes including rugged mountains, Mediterranean forests, and desert wetlands. Set in Wadi Araba’s remote and exceptional landscape, the Feynan Eco-lodge forms the western gateway to the spectacular Dana Biosphere Reserve. Running deep into the arid mountains of Jordan’s Rift Valley, the Feynan Eco-lodge is isolated from paved roads and electricity supplies. The uniquely designed lodge of 26 rooms is completely candle-lit throughout the calm nights of Wadi Araba, creating an unbelievably relaxed atmosphere. All rooms include a private bathroom and spacious terraces alongside a central courtyard. Every room in the lodge has its own special ambiance, making a stay at the lodge an unparalleled experience. 92 Best of Jordan
    • Established in 1989, the Dana Biosphere Established in 1987, the Mujib Reserve covers Established by RSCN in 1976, the Azraq Wetland is the most developed reserve for tourism, an area of 212 km2, bordering the Dead Sea Reserve lies in the Eastern Desert and its oasis offering a guest house, campsite, and an eco- at 416 meters below sea level. At the ever so is famous for migrating birds. It is distinguished lodge, in addition to a range of trails and tour popular Mujib, RSCN has developed the most by lush marshland and natural water collections programs. Hiking is the main activity in Dana, exciting water trails in Jordan. These take you that form glittering pools and streams, giving which covers an area of 320 km2 of rugged through deep gorges of red sandstone lined with Azraq its name, which is the Arabic word for and beautiful landscape along the face of the palm trees, and down high waterfalls assisted ‘blue’. A unique lodge has been created nearby Great Rift Valley. Many visitors simply visit by ropes. A ‘chalet village’ has recently been in a renovated 1940’s British Field Hospital that to enjoy the amazing mountain scenery and opened at the edge of the Dead Sea offering offers a comfortable and very unusual base from experience the local culture. Dana Biosphere is overnight accommodation with spectacular sea which to explore the wetland and the Eastern the only reserve in Jordan that includes the four views. Mujib is also an internationally important Desert. It is worth noting that the Azraq wetland different bio-geographical zones of the country; passage way for migratory birds such as White is the only oasis in the Arabian Desert with a self- Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo Arabian Storks, August, Black Storks, Buzzards, Honey replenishing system that has allowed it to sustain and Sudanian penetration. As such, it is the most Buzzards, and Levant Sparrow Hawks among itself throughout the years. diverse nature reserve in the Jordan in terms of others. habitats and species. In complete contrast, the Ajloun Forest Reserve International Partners of the RSCN which was established in 1987, offers tranquil wooded hills in the north of Jordan, which one Birdlife International: can enjoy by staying in a tented lodge or more RSCN was the first Birdlife International individual cabins. The Ajloun Reserve consists partner in the region, and has worked in of a Mediterranean-like country hill with a series association with Birdlife to carry out many of small and medium winding valleys, where a national conservation initiatives throughout range of trails and tours have been developed for the years. Birdlife International has partnered visitors to see important archaeological sites and with RSCN as a step to fulfilling its main goal experience local village culture. to conserve birds and their habitats on an international level. The World Conservation Unit (IUCN): RSCN is a valuable member of IUCN, the largest democratic conservation agency in the world, and through its advocacy efforts, support was instrumental in backing the establishment of IUCN’s regional office in Amman covering West Asia/Middle East (WAME). IUCN WAME signed a memorandum of cooperation with RSCN in 2005. In addition, IUCN is a main partner of RSCN in the implementation of the Jordan Rift Valley Project and are co-financing part of the project through direct technical support. International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW): Since 2006, RSCN has worked in cooperation with IFAW, aiming to enhance biodiversity protection in Jordan. Through this partnership, both have collaborated on several activities such as providing training to build the capacity of regional CITES enforcement officers, and supporting the progress of the rangers and environmental police unit, in addition to annually organizing the Animal Action Week. www.rscn.org.jo Best of Jordan 93
    • Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S Bringing the World into the Kingdom Somewhere on a television set at a restaurant in Canada, between the evening film and a cereal commercial, footage of Wadi Rums’ sand-sculpted cliffs and Jerash’s picturesque hills dominate the screen. The advertisement, enticing viewers to visit this mystical land of the Nabataens, accomplishes its intended goals as customers glance from their entrées towards the screen. It is this kind of promotional activity that shows the incredible reach that the Jordan Tourism Board is achieving. The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) was officially Jordan’s main amusement assets. Great launched in March 1998 as an independent, comparative advantages of this sector include public – private sector partnership, committed guaranteed sunshine for eight months of the to utilizing marketing strategies in branding, year, plus a powerful base of unique cultural positioning, and promoting the Jordan tourism attractions such as Petra, Jerash, Bethany product as the destination of choice in international Beyond the Jordan, and the early Islamic Desert travel markets. The adopted strategies are tuned Castles. Further attractions include a wide to reflect the true image of Jordan as a cultural, range of very different, often stunning natural natural, religious, adventurous, and leisurely environments that are easily accessible and destination, as well as a prime MICE destination. virtually undiscovered by the tourism industry. As part of its marketing strategy, JTB plans and executes an integrated program of international promotional activities. This program includes the active participation in trade fairs, trade workshops, trade and consumer road shows, familiarization trips, press trips, brochure and multimedia productions, and media relations. To carry out their goals, JTB utilizes the services of eleven offices in Europe and N. America. The board concentrates its activities into six different categories; fun and adventure, history and culture, eco and nature, leisure and wellness, religion and faith, and conferences and events. The fun and adventure category, the main thrust of any tourist board, is dedicated to promoting 94 Best of Jordan
    • In the History and Culture category, JTB The board further provides resources such as the promotes the vast multitudes of historical sites Itinerary Generator, which helps tourists plan their like Petra, Jerash, Aqaba castles, and Desert holidays in Jordan. castles to name just a few, all of which emphasize Jordan’s richness as a Kingdom steeped in The sheer amount of services provided by JTB, history and culture. In the ecotourism sectors, and the passion by which it employs its mission, JTB cooperates with the Royal Society for the has reaped in the last few years as the numbers Conservation of Nature (RSCN) to promote the of incoming tourists have steadily increased. country’s natural treasures such as the nature This displays the resounding success of an reserves of Ajloun, Azraq, Wadi Mujib, and Dana organization that will always be considered a vital Nature Reserve. part of Jordan’s economic fiber. In the Leisure and Wellness sectors, the board highlights Jordan’s renowned therapeutic Visitors to the Increase 2007 2008 resources like the Dead Sea and other various Touristic Sites Percentage springs like Hammamat Ma’in with first-class Petra 581,145 813,267 39.9% resorts offering a diverse range of amenities. The goal is to promote a unique and relaxing Jarash 227,875 351,508 54.3% experience catering to tourists’ health, fitness, Karak 121,600 153,875 26.5% and beauty needs. In the religion and faith category, JTB concentrates on significant sites Ajloun 122,249 141,869 16.0% which form part of human history by virtue Umqais 87,657 125,068 42.7% of simple deeds, and profound messages of Wadi Rum 101,139 207,439 105.1% prophets who walked the land and crossed its rivers during their lives. Many such sites which Baptism site 92,647 142,419 53.7% are believed to have witnessed prophet miracles, Madaba/ Map 164,044 298,602 82.0% have been identified, excavated and protected to ensure convenient access to visitors. Mount Nebo 200,076 326,702 63.3% Finally, JTB’s dynamic marketing strategies for new establishments such as the Dead Sea Convention Centre, have triggered a steady boost of the MICE sector in Jordan’s tourism industry. Also, JTB coordinates with various Jordanian tourist agencies to pool progressive resources and streamline the country’s tourism operations. www.visitjordan.com Best of Jordan 95
    • Aqaba T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S The Booming City on the Coast The trip on the Desert Highway passes to the city of Aqaba, Jordan’s only outlet to the sea. It is an invigorating sight when one sees the clear blue sea; a welcome relief after the long journey. But the city is no longer just a small coastal town cutting the monotony of the desert. As indicated by the massive construction projects underway in the city, Aqaba is quickly becoming a major hub of trade and business. In the last five years, names of huge real estate companies who have climbed the bandwagon of civic development and projects in Aqaba have exponentially increased. Projects like Saraya Aqaba, Ayla Oasis and Talabay have announced massive developments that will turn the red sands of this picturesque city into a new metropolis at the coast of the Red Sea. The reasons behind the interest in this small coastal strip may well go back to the same motivations that inspired past civilizations to set-up in this ancient town. History Since 4000 BC, Aqaba has been an inhabited settlement thanks to its strategic location at the junction of trading routes linking Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was the center of the Arab Nabataeans, 96 Best of Jordan
    • who populated the region extensively. The Mamluk sultans, Qansah al-Ghouri. This fort still the Read Sea covering an area of 375 km², and Ptolemaic Greeks called it Berenice, and the stands today, as will be discussed in the tourism encompassing the total Jordanian coastline (27 Romans Aila and Aelana. No matter what name section. km), the sea-ports of Jordan and an international it was known as, Aqaba has always served as a airport. Striving to turn Aqaba into a world class key city in the area. Yet perhaps, the prime reason that Aqaba is Red Sea business hub and leisure destination, booming today is because of a more recent ASEZA sustains a globally competitive investor During Roman times, the great long distance road, historical event. In August 2000, the Aqaba –friendly environment, and utilizes entrusted the Via Traiana Nova, led south from Damascus Special Economic Zone Authority Law was resources in harmony with the Zone’s Master through Amman, and terminated in Aqaba where passed by the Jordanian Parliament. The law Plan to internationally recognized standards. it connected with a west road leading to Philistia established the Aqaba Special Economic Zone and Egypt. Soon after Prophet Muhammad’s Authority (ASEZA) as the statutory institution (peace be upon him) conquests, the area came empowered with regulatory, administrative, fiscal under the rule of the Islamic Caliphate, and and economic responsibilities within the Aqaba thereafter passed through the hands of such Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). dynasties as the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids and Mamluks. The early days of the Islamic era The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority saw the construction of the city of Ayla. Aqaba’s economy is greatly improving because During the 12th century, the Crusaders occupied of the economic zone created by the ASEZA, the area in which Aqaba stands and built their which was inaugurated in 2001 as a bold fortress of Helim there. By 1170, Aqaba had been economic initiative by the government of Jordan. re-conquered for Muslim rule by Salahuddin. The A liberalized, low tax, duty-free and multi–sector Mamluks took over in 1250 and rebuilt the fort of development zone, the ASEZ offers multiple Helim in the 14th century under one of the last investment opportunities in a strategic location on Best of Jordan 97
    • T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S The Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) was launched at the beginning of 2004 by ASEZA and the Government of Jordan as a new private sector corporation to act as the central development body for ASEZ. Ownership of Jordan’s ports, the city’s international airport, strategic parcels of land and their asset development rights, key infrastructure, and utilities have all been transferred to ADC. ADC’s objectives are to develop and manage these strategic zone assets in order to leverage value from this asset base. Since its inception, ADC has attracted over $8 billion worth of committed investments to ASEZ. This included 3 mega tourism projects that are expected to create over 15,000 jobs over the coming 10 years. The South Industrial Zone (SIZ) is one of the prime investment opportunities within ASEZ. Comprising some 12 square kilometres of vacant, readily developable land, it encompasses and surrounds the existing heavy industrial district. It is also directly adjacent to the new site of Aqaba’s seaport to be built over the coming five to seven years. Already present are the marine terminals for import and export of dry bulk and liquid bulk commodities. SIZ’s development concept is to build an industrial area that provides for the development of existing industries in an orderly manner and related industries downstream. Significantly, SIZ aims to provide a world-class industrial park to enable the progression of new industries. The SIZ concept plans for industrial clusters which meet the demands of existing and new industries, in addition to providing centralized grouping of services such as cooling water, pipelines and conveyors where possible, as well as plans for inter-modal transport centers enabling swift transfer of goods and people. Also, SIZ dedicates part of the area to anchor an integrated agro- chemical/fertilizer cluster, using the competitive advantage of Jordan and its neighbours in phosphate, potash and natural gas resources, as well as taking advantage of the existing fertilizer industry and deepwater ports (both existing and under-development). Furthermore, remaining areas have been dedicated for heavy chemical industries. 98 Best of Jordan
    • The Red Sea and Tourism in Aqaba Visitors will find themselves at the Red Sea resort of Aqaba when desire, sun, and sea meet the mystical atmosphere of antiquity. For water sports and winter warmth, Aqaba is almost unprecedented. The sunny weather and hospitality of the locals create a delightful place for perceptive holidaymakers. The resort city is surrounded with palm trees and lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Aqaba. The northern breeze cools the coast while creating the necessary wind to surf on the majestic waves. Of course, Aqaba is also a great base from which to explore Petra and Wadi Rum. Perhaps Aqaba’s greatest asset is the Red Sea itself, where one may experience some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world. The temperate climate and gentle water currents create the ideal environment for the growth of corals and a teeming plethora of marine life. More than 1100 species of fish have been recorded in Aqaba, and around 10% of these are found nowhere else. A dazzling undersea world of coral, fish, and other marline life is just meters off the sandy beaches. Popular water-sports in Aqaba include snorkeling, water skiing, wind surfing, and unsurpassed scuba diving. There are many historic sites to be explored within the area, including what is believed to be the oldest purpose-built church in the world, The Mameluk Fort. The fort is one of the main historical landmarks of Aqaba, rebuilt by the Mameluks in the sixteenth century. Square in shape and flanked by semicircular towers, the fort is marked with various inscriptions representing the latter period of the Islamic dynasty. Special ancient and medieval archaeological sites include the Castle of Salahuddin on an island in the middle of the gulf, the early Islamic city called Ayla (which includes the Uthman Mosque, built during the caliphate of Uthman bin Affan), the Aqaba Fort, and an impressive museum at the house of Sharif Hussein bin Ali (great grandfather of King Hussein). Whether a tourist destination or a booming business hub, the city of Aqaba will continue to play a critical role in Jordan’s future, as it did in its significant past. Best of Jordan 99
    • Wadi Rum T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S The Valley of Civilizations A stupendous, timeless place, Wadi Rum Wadi Rum was also known as ‘The Valley of the is virtually untouched by humanity and its Moon’ by Prince Faisal Bin Hussein. The Prince destructive forces. Here, it is the weather and T.E. Lawrence based their headquarters here and winds that have carved the imposing, during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in towering skyscrapers. World War I; their exploits are intrinsically woven into the history of this amazing area. Wadi Rum did not merely gain prominence in the 1910s, but rather has always been an essential part of Jordan’s heritage and history. In this timeless place, indications of man’s presence since the earliest known times are everywhere. Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human civilizations since prehistoric times. Many cultures, including the Nabateans, have left their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. People have lived in Rum for thousands of years, struggling to survive in its harsh environment. They had been hunters, pastoralists, farmers and traders. Wadi Rum was uncovered as a climbing area in 1984 by Tony Howard, Di Taylor, Mick Shaw, and Al Baker. Howard and Taylor have since written two guidebooks: Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum and Jordan, and Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs and 100 Best of Jordan
    • Canyons, both published by Cicerone Press from the United Kingdom. The Bedouin people that inhabit the area still maintain their semi-nomadic lifestyle. They are famed for their hospitality, often inviting random visitors for coffee or even a meal. The area centered on Wadi Rum is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who made a success of developing eco-adventure tourism, working with climbers and trekkers. The area around Disi, home to the Zuweida Bedouin and erroneously also thought to be part of Wadi Rum by visitors, caters more for Jordanian visitors from Amman, with campsites regularly used by party-goers. One of the most popular party events is the annual Distant Heat. Popular activities in Rum’s desert include camping under the stars, riding Arab horses, hiking, and rock-climbing amongst the massive rock formations. Jabal Rum is the second highest peak in Jordan and the highest peak in central Rum, rising directly above Rum valley opposite Jebel um Ishrin, which is one meter lower. The highest peak in Jordan is south of Rum close to the Saudi border. Named Jebel um Adaami, it is 1840m high and was first located by Defallah Atieq, a Zalabia Bedouin from Rum. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Red Sea and the Saudi border from the top. Recognizing the unique natural and cultural history of Wadi Rum, and the vital importance of its tourism to the local economy, the government of Jordan declared Wadi Rum a protected area in 1998. With support from the World Bank they commissioned the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature to prepare a conservation plan and build a team of local people to manage the area. This team is now under the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and is pioneering ways to restore and safeguard Rum’s sensitive desert habitats from ever-increasing human pressure. In 2006, Wadi Rum became a UNESCO World Heritage site; a culmination and an indication of its importance not only to Jordan, but to the region as a whole. Best of Jordan 101
    • Petra T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S A World Wonder “One of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage” -UNESCO The stroll in the Siq of Petra feels like a stroll in history. The site’s glory magnifies at the first sight of the ‘Khazneh’; its glorious façade peeking through the rose-colored canyon, where the legacy of the ancient Nabataeans stands tall more than 2000 years later. It is no wonder that Petra has become a UNESCO world heritage site, and more importantly, voted as one of the world’s new seven wonders in 2007. Somewhere at the crux of time, at the edge of what was once known as the Fertile Crescent, a mighty empire rose to dominate the sifting sands of the area around the Northern Red Sea coast. The empire was historically inhabited by the powerful Nabataeans, who regulated the meager waters of the area into an efficient irrigation system. The sophisticated system had managed to become the envy of competing empires, and would be replicated by others in years to come. The Nabataeans built Petra as a testament to their accomplishment; a city that would survive the test of time and nature’s most grueling elements, to become the shinning jewel of the southern Jordanian desert. Thus, Petra became the capital of the Nabataeans; their most treasured city. The silks of China, spices of India, and perfumes of Arabia all found their way through to the Rose City. Perhaps, in more ways than one, Petra was already a World Wonder. The intermingling of cultures - a result of intercontinental commerce - ultimately produced rich art and architecture in the ancient city. But as with every rise, there must eventually be a fall. The end of Petra as a trading hub came in A.D. 363, when the city was shattered by an earthquake. The depleted shell of the great city was abandoned in the seventh century; stories of its existence confined to mystical legends of local tribes. These circumstances led to Petra’s eventual decline, and the city remained a secret to all except the area’s Bedouin tribes. The ruins of Petra were a mystical object of curiosity in the Middle Ages, and were visited by the Sultan Baibars of Egypt towards the close of the 13th century. Yet it was not until 1812, when the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered Petra, that it rose to prominence again. When Burckhardt stumbled into the ancient city, fascinating stories and tales began to circulate in Europe, unveiling the charms of a once forgotten city. Today, Petra is incredibly well preserved, and is by far Jordan’s main tourist attraction. Attracting between 2,500 and 3,000 visitors daily, the ancient city generates a significant amount of revenue for the Kingdom. According to the Ministry of Tourism, a total of 100,000 tourists visited Petra during the month of October 2008 alone, with some 645,000 visitors in the first 10 102 Best of Jordan
    • months of the year. These tourist numbers have Annihilation, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, spurred a rapid development in the area, seeing and the Sisters of Mercy music video, Dominion. the development of major international hotels Petra was also recreated for the video games such as the Petra Marriot in the last few years. Spy Hunter, Lego Indiana Jones and Sonic In 2007, Petra competed against other grand, Unleashed, and appeared in the novels Left global historical sites, such as the pyramids Behind, Appointment with Death, The Eagle in of Egypt for a prized spot in the World’s New the Sand and The Red Sea Sharks. Seven Wonders. Petra prevailed and won this distinction, creating a seismic wave in its tourist Whether as Jordan’s prime tourist site, or as potential. a stunning backdrop for the latest Hollywood movie, Petra will always echo the reminiscent The picturesque site is also featured in various glories of days bygone. works of American popular culture such as the movies Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Passion in the Desert, Mortal Kombat: Best of Jordan 103
    • Taybet Zaman Hotel & Resort Village T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S A Timeless Tale Once upon a time, an ancient village called Taybeh found itself on the brink of extinction, unable to find its place in the modern world. Yet the local mayor, Abu Firas, never lost hope. In an attempt to retain Taybeh’s rich heritage, and secure the livelihoods of its remaining families, Abu Firas presented an astonishingly progressive proposal to transform his village into a world-class resort. His plan was simple: establish a cooperative relationship with a developer who would lease the village, while allowing for locals to participate in its growth. That investor was the Jordan Tourism Investment Group (JTI). Today, Taybet Zaman is an exceptional experience of the best of yesterday, amid the best of today. JTI immediately appreciated that this old farming village is a cultural treasure that must be preserved. The concept of conserving Jordan’s heritage wasn’t new to this group; they had already remodeled a 19th Century estate just outside Amman, creating an instantly successful tourist village called Kan Zaman. Inspired by its winning blend of ancient workshops and contemporary conveniences, JTI organically expanded by taking on Taybeh. As the plans for Taybeh evolved, achieving the perfect balance between past and present became the foremost goal; only then could they create something timeless. And, true to Abu Firas’ vision, the group recognized the importance of Taybeh’s original inhabitants. 104 Best of Jordan
    • “My father always placed great sentimental value on Jordan’s history and family structures,” explains Yazid Abujaber, Managing Director, JTI. “Accordingly, one of the key principles behind the project was the establishment of a community partnership, which had never really been done to the extent which we proposed. We completely understood though, that it was the best way to preserve Taybeh’s cultural integrity.” By employing Taybeh’s residents, JTI’s social impact is profound. Pioneering this ambitious project proved significant beyond its cultural contributions, as JTI carefully created an environmentally conscious, sustainable resort. From using local stone and recycling programs to locally-made natural soap and food grown at nearby farms - from beginning to end- conservation was crucial. “Our intent was always to retain the true roots of this village,” says Abujaber. “Taybeh was nearly lost to us all.” A Happy Ending Taybet Zaman is undoubtedly a unique, modern interpretation of 19th Century Jordan, nestled in a luxurious five-star setting. Ideally situated just 12 km from Petra, Taybet Zaman enjoys breathtaking views of the Sharah Mountain Range, and endless vistas of the valley and sky. Only a 2 ½ Taybeh Village’s history is always evident, hours drive from Amman, and 1 ½ hours travel whether at the handicraft souk or the small shop from the Red Sea port of Aqaba, Taybet Zaman that sells a selection of incense, tea, hand soaps, achieves the ideal balance for those wishing to and body creams. During the warmer months, experience the spirit of the 19th Century lifestyle Taybet Zaman’s refreshing outdoor swimming without sacrificing modern comforts. Remarkably, pool is a welcome respite after exploring the the resort’s 102 guest rooms and suites, as well many sights in the area. The resort’s Hammam - as the grand royal suite, are all rooms where the designed with original Ottoman features - offers original inhabitants once lived. The resort’s thick professional massage, and traditional Turkish spa stone walls magnificently keep cool through harsh rejuvenation and relaxation services. summers and warm during winters. The houses’ windows and doors are adorned with rustic Guests may enjoy a leisurely, evening cocktail, shutters of weathered arrowroot wood. Inside, along with Petra’s stunning sunset views at a supporting arches are still blackened by fires of garden bar decorated with local farming artifacts, days bygone. Furnishings are comfortable, yet and colorful hand-woven cushions. Integral faithful to the 19th Century with an exotic dash of in Taybet Zaman’s five-star rating, are several Arab indulgence, and luxurious modern amenities exceptional restaurants that offer the finest in complement the rustic accommodations. All of Arabic and international cuisine. A well-appointed Taybet Zaman’s climate-controlled rooms feature ballroom is also available for special events and private bathrooms with hairdryers, satellite TV, can accommodate large groups of up to 300 direct-dial telephones, well-stocked mini-bars, guests. The Saraya ballroom seats a maximum 24-hour room service, and access to safe- of 150 theatre-style. deposit boxes. • Taybet Zaman is the Global winner of Well-tended walkways meander through the the British Airways Tourism for resort, ultimately leading to the old village center, Tomorrow Award, with its original water-well and marble benches. Vivid bougainvillea vines cascade over the stone • Recipient of the Green Global walls and grand archways, creating vibrant Commendation Award, natural artwork at every turn. The area comes alive every night, with regular entertainment and • The EIBTM Greeting of Business a wide variety of food and beverage to fulfill the Award, guests’ every need. • The Guild of Travel Writer’s Otter Award. Best of Jordan 105
    • The Dead Sea T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S The World’s Largest Natural Spa Not many places in the world could be The waters at the lowest point on Earth glisten There are multiple theories as to how the Dead described as historic, therapeutic and under the sun almost like a mirage, emerging Sea was formed. One of them states that around trendy in one sentence, but the Dead Sea after the long descend from the hills of Jordan. three million years ago, what is now the valley of can. From historic presence to glitzy hotels, Long renowned for its unique healing properties, the Jordan River, Dead Sea, and Wadi Arabah, the lowest lake on earth has, and always the Dead Sea is a highly saline, mineral rich or the Rift Valley, was repeatedly swamped by will, play host to countless tales. lake that rests at the bottom of the Dead Sea waters from the Mediterranean Sea. The waters basin. The highly salty water, as seen by the salt flowed in a narrow, crooked bay which was clump formations hugging its shores, makes it connected to Mediterranean through the Marj impossible for any living organism to live there, Ibn Amer valley. Over the years, the continuous hence its dark name. On the other hand, the flow caused by seasonal floods and climatic extremely salty water also makes it famous for its changes created a lake that occupied the Dead comfortable, distinctive floating experience. Sea Rift Valley, the lowest point on earth. The lake would eventually become 3 meters thick and would develop into the world’s most salline body of water. 106 Best of Jordan
    • This unique lake has been transformed in the In recent decades, the Dead Sea has been present by the site of luxury hotels that dot the rapidly shrinking because of diversion of northern shore of the Dead Sea on the Jordanian incoming water. The extremely low elevation side. Set amid scenic arid mountains, today and scorching heat causes the evaporation the Dead Sea is a popular destination for those levels in the region to reach remarkable levels. seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. The area Subsequently, the high levels of evaporation remains warm throughout the year offering a are also coupled with groundwater level drop. tranquil haven for harmony and respite. The Although the Dead Sea may never entirely Dead Sea waters contain more than 20 minerals, disappear, because evaporation slows down as 12 of which are unique to the sea and can’t be surface area decreases and salinity increases, The Dead Sea features significantly in the area’s found anywhere else in the world. Also, because it is feared that the Dead Sea may substantially ancient history. In biblical times, the Dead Sea of the low altitude, the atmosphere at the Dead change its characteristics. is believed to inhabit the old location of Sodom Sea is thicker than anywhere else, and filters out and Gomorrah. The Greeks knew the Dead Sea the majority of harmful ultraviolet rays, making it a There have been several proposals for a canal to as “Lake Asphaltites”, because of the naturally great place to tan. Thanks to its unique elements transport Mediterranean Sea or Red Sea water surfacing asphalt. It was a place of refuge for of nature, life and quality of life at the Dead Sea to the Dead Sea. One of the plans which were King David and a health resort for Herod the are unlike any other place in the world. People suggested as a means to stop the recession of Great; a clear sign that the therapeutic qualities of all countries and of all wakes of society make the Dead Sea is to channel water from the Red were known a thousand year ago. The lake was frequent “health and well being pilgrimages” to Sea, either through tunnels or canals. No matter given its modern name in the 2nd century when this region. The climate and the mineral qualities which rescue plan is implemented, the continual the Greek traveler, Pausanius, dubbed it the are major features in the variety of its therapeutic survival of the Dead Sea will always be at the top “Dead Sea”. qualities, of its beauty treatments and of the of the Jordanian national agenda. menu of bodily pleasures to choose from. Best of Jordan 107
    • The Dead Sea Convention Center T O U R I S M D E S T I N AT I O N S A Center for the World When the World Economic Forum - the This recent accomplishment has been partly premier corporate governance institution in due to the promotional activities of the country’s the World - held its inaugural annual summit various national agencies, but further credit goes at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention to the massive, picturesque structure hugging Center (KHBTCC) in 2005, it did so with an the shores of the Dead Sea - the King Hussein adventurous spirit. After all, it was only a Bin Talal Convention Center. It is a romantic ideal year before this event that the conference that the lowest point on Earth is also the site of center had received its last finishing one of the top convention centers in the World. touches. The echoing success of this global It was a vision originally fostered by His Majesty event proved the expediency and grandeur the late King Hussein, and it slowly materialized of KHBTCC beyond reasonable doubt. into a magnificent building on the shores of the Dead Sea. KHBTCC has dedicated itself to set The Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & a local and regional benchmark for excellence in Exhibitions (MICE) industry has always been managing significant international, regional and dominated by fierce competition, for as an event local conventions, in addition to educational, organizer, the World is your oyster. Over the past cultural and social functions among other events. years however, despite intense competition, Jordan has seen a sharp rise in the number The exceptional technical services, wide-ranging of events held on its soil. MICE activities are infrastructures, and dedicated staff, all pay great everywhere: from retreats held by top executives tribute to KHBTCC’s achievement. The center of local firms, to NGO meetings and exhibitions. is part architectural showpiece, part modern This is accompanied by small business meetings, art sculpture, and all business. The touches of headlining conferences, and local, regional, and Islamic design and heritage, as well as the special international training courses and brainstorming design features of the area all grace the walls of sessions. KHBTCC. With 25 fully equipped conference and meeting halls that vary in size and capacity, the 108 Best of Jordan
    • center is able to accommodate numerous events with different requirements simultaneously. The center incorporates state-of-the-art AV facilities including multimedia projectors, high quality sound systems, translation services, microphone systems, and video conferencing systems. KHBTCC provides myriad event services including security, cleaning services, parking, photography, advertising services, sign production business centers, floral arrangements, gifts, and catering. Also, a PR team is on hand to help events with marketing efforts. Every employee, at every level, is personally committed to delivering a superior meeting experience with the courtesy and genuine goodwill that have become trademarks of KHBTCC. With this comprehensive support network, it is no wonder that the center has become the preferred address for MICE activities in the kingdom. The increasing popularity and exposure of the center is gradually cementing it as a world-class facility within the MICE industry. KHBTCC is certainly expected to take center stage as prominant international events continue to enter the Jordanian market. Despite rumours that the shores of the Dead Sea are slowly receding, what is known for a fact is that the KHBTCC will be standing tall at the forefront. www.dscc.jo Best of Jordan 109
    • “True charity is the desire to be useful to others without thought of recompense.” -Emanuel Swedenborg
    • The King Hussein Cancer Foundation (KHCF) NGOs Leading the Battle Against Cancer Cancer inflicts one in 2.9 people worldwide. This is an atrocious statistic that has risen due to the rise in global pollution levels, toxic chemicals in consumer goods, and the permeation of carcinogens in every facet of daily life. The high levels of cancer in the general population are also coupled with low life expectancies; on average cancer patients have 3 to 5 years life expectancy. Yet not all hope is gone. An agency which is battling this appalling condition, the King Hussein Cancer Foundation (KHCF), works day and night to gift hope to those who had abandoned all of it. Abu Al Fadel Khairi, an Iraqi child, was merely Al Fadel’s story is not unique. You would be hard 23-months old when his parents discovered pressed these days to know someone who doesn’t he was afflicted with a malignant brain tumour. know someone inflicted with cancer. Cancer He underwent surgery to remove his tumour at affects almost every human being; regardless of one of the private hospitals in Amman, followed creed, religion, age, or gender. It has no borders by chemotherapy at the King Hussein Cancer and does not discriminate. The mention of the Center (KHCC). Unfortunately, the tumour name alone instigates unmentionable fear in remained and he needed additional surgery. Abu most people; a logical response both because Al Fadel’s parents were in a predicament. They of cancer’s severity and its widespread nature. had used all of their savings, and were unable This is not an exception, as cancer rates have to cover the cost of their son’s operation. When been raising rapidly in Jordan. The King Hussein it seemed that there were no options left on the Cancer Foundation (KHCF), whose purpose is to table, KHCF came to the rescue by paying for carry out fundraising activities to support KHCC, Abu Al Fadel’s operation and medical expenses provides financial aid for underprivileged patients, with funds from the KHCF Iraqi Goodwill Fund. builds public awareness on this disease, and The surgery was successfully performed at the works tirelessly to reverse this movement. KHCC in March 2007. 112 Best of Jordan
    • About the Foundation The KHCF was established in 1997 as the legal umbrella organization responsible for the KHCC, the medical arm of the foundation. The KHCF is a unique institution. It is non-governmental, and not-for-profit, and currently treats over 3000 new patients each year from all over the Middle East. The success of the center was a dream of His Majesty the late King Hussein who broke all taboos by openly speaking about his cancer, and combating it with great faith and courage. The Foundation is chaired by HRH Princess Ghida (herself a wife of a cancer surviver), and run by a board of trustees comprised of dedicated, prominent volunteers. Knowing first hand the heavy toll that cancer takes on patients and their families, Princess Ghida devoted herself to the fight against cancer, and has become a tireless fund-raiser and advocate for the KHCF. The Foundation is registered as a tax-exempt organization in Jordan as well as the United States. The Director of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation is HRH Princess Dina Mired. As the mother of a cancer survivor, Princess Dina The Services of the KHCF is passionate in her efforts to combat cancer. Since 2003, she has led the King Hussein KHCF, through the KHCC, offers comprehensive Cancer Foundation (KHCF) as Director General. cancer management to patients with all types of In this capacity, she founded and developed the malignancies. This includes recognition of the Fundraising and Development Department of the problem by expert physicians, diagnosis of the foundation, making it one of the best fundraising disease using excellent laboratory, pathology, and institutions in Jordan and the region. Today, radiology equipment, and treatment protocols KHCF is the largest source of non-profit funds following the newest and most advanced dedicated to combating cancer in Jordan. standards. The foundation, through its center, offers a variety of specialized treatment programs for primary care and support. This includes stem cell and bone marrow transplantation through the (BMT) Clinic, Gastrointestinal Clinic, Head & Neck Clinic, Neuro-oncology Clinic, and Pulmonary Adult ICU. KHCC also has medical support services which include Infection Control Services, Nutrition Unit, Palliative Care, Patient & Family Education, Paediatric Pain Management Clinic, Physical Rehabilitation, Psycho-oncology, and Support Group Services. Other activities of the center include outpatient services, prevention and early detection, cancer outreach, and education and training. The outpatient services offered by the center include the Day Chemotherapy Units (DCU), Outpatient Phlebotomy Unit, and Outreach Clinics. When treatment protocols permit, The DCU gives adults and child patients the options to receive their treatments in a friendly, comfortable setting and then return home, avoiding the psychological and physical trauma of staying in the hospital overnight. At the Outpatient Phlebotomy Unit, patients wait for their routine blood testing following their treatment sessions, and then are discharged from the center. Finally, the Outreach Clinics incorporates programs in which medical teams are sent to several areas and towns outside Amman, offering medical awareness about cancer and clinical breast exams to women. Best of Jordan 113
    • NGOs The Prevention and Early Detection Services provided by the Center include two important facets; smoking cessation and early detection. The smoking cessation clinic was formed to assist people who want to quit smoking. This is an important function considering that recent statistics show that smokers are 128 times more likely to contract lung cancer. A specialized team offers counselling, distributes leaflets and helps with all the necessary means for stopping the bad habit. The Early Detection Services includes PAP smears yearly for women, Mammograms for women above the age of 40 years, yearly occult blood in stools for both sexes above the age of 50 years, and PSA yearly for men above 50 years of age. Through the Cancer Outreach services, educational lectures are given all over the country by the center’s physicians, stressing the importance of early detection and teaching methods of self examination to the public. Media awareness campaigns have been launched, and cancer survivors support groups have been set-up to offer counselling and promote a healthy attitude in support of treatment, care, and life beyond cancer. KHCC has also launched an aggressive advocacy campaign of cancer prevention and control by encouraging healthy life style changes. 114 Best of Jordan
    • Finally, in addition to providing the highest quality Although its services are all-encompassing, the patient care, KHCC is a leader in Jordan and future effectiveness of KHCF depends on the the Middle East in providing training, education, contributions it gathers from Jordanians and research and other services to physicians, from altruistic people and organizations across nurses, other healthcare practitioners and the globe. The last statistic from the Jordan administrative personnel. Professional services National Cancer Registry (JNCR) shows that a range from curriculum development to interactive total of 5,276 patients in Jordan were diagnosed conferences, online training, and a variety of with cancer in 2006 alone. This terrifying number certifications. An important part of the Education shows the sheer urgency of fighting this malignant and Training services is the Nursing training disease. functions. The KHCC clinical area in the hospital has an assigned clinical instructor who prepares Abu al Fadel - a child who was part of that statistic staff nurses to become specialized nurses, - has now moved forward to live a healthy, happy capable of providing safe and qualitative nursing life. Al Fadel’s story is a clear vindication that the care to all of the center’s patients. KHCC also battle against cancer, although difficult, may well provides a wealth of information for interested have a happy ending with KHCF at its helm. individuals on complementary and alternative medicines for treating cancer, coping with cancer strategies, and terminology resources. This is a To contribute to the King Hussein Cancer small example of the vault of educational data Foundation, and for all other inquiries, offered by the centre. contact + (962-6) 554-4960 or visit www.khcf.jo Best of Jordan 115
    • Injaz NGOs Accomplishing the Possible The wheels of economy in the Middle East As the Jordanian economy registers for Development (KAFD), INJAZ reaches out to and Jordan have started to accelerate, approximately 5% GDP growth yearly, local university and college students across Jordan. In catching up to the most industrialized employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find the last few years, INJAZ was able to reach out to countries of the World. Yet the shortage of suitable talent for the highly skilled job vacancies around 250,000 students throughout Jordan. Its skills, and the gap between required and in Jordan’s new knowledge-based economy. main role has manifested by raising awareness available expertise has only widened. Enter Jordan is faced with a problem that plagues most among Jordanian youth on their personal and Injaz, an NGO that aims at reconciling that developing countries; an attempt to contend in professional potentials, enhancing the capacities discrepancy and building a brighter future a global, trade-liberalized world. In Arabic, Injaz and competitive advantage of Jordanian youth to for the youth of Jordan. means “to accomplish”, foreshadowing the enable them to enter the job market as qualified immense feat which it strives to achieve. employees and business owners, and increasing the involvement of the Jordanian private sector Initially a project by ‘Save the Children’ with funds and the society at large in youth development from USAID, Injaz spun-off in 2001 to become and education. an independent, not-for-profit organization under the Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al In recent years, the NGO has further focused on Abdullah II. INJAZ has also become a member organizing key events and job fairs to promote nation of Junior Achievement Worldwide. Since progressive employment, and has worked to its inception in 1999, INJAZ has aimed at liaise between students and potential employers enhancing the skills of youth and increasing their in the market. As part of its job placement participation in the economy to help bridge the programs, INJAZ organizes various events such existing gap between the knowledge acquired as the Career Month, which connects 9th and through education, and the skills required by 10th graders with future employers. Moreover, the job market. INJAZ does this by enhancing Injaz conducts Job Shadowing programs, where students’ leadership, business entrepreneurial, students are provided with the opportunity problem-solving, communication, and soft skills. to “shadow” a business professional in the workplace based on field of interest. All in all, INJAZ brings various capacity building courses to students are offered various internship programs classrooms in public schools around the Kingdom which give them a shot at real life working in full coordination with the Ministry of Education. experiences and at becoming a part of the With the unwavering support of the Ministry of mainstream workforce. Higher Education and the King Abdullah Fund 116 Best of Jordan
    • The hopes and dreams of millions of youth around the country rely on the endeavors of agencies like INJAZ, and their attempts to bridge the gap between required and available talent and expertise. Injaz has and always will be the partner of choice for businesses, educators and policymakers seeking to expand workforce and economic development. With a widely respected and valued role, Injaz is at the center of providing Jordanian youth with the skills and tools they need to stay ahead of the game. www.injaz.org.jo Best of Jordan 117
    • Zikra Initiative NGOs Diminishing Barriers and Redefining Charity The Zikra Initiative, launched by Rabee’ Zikra’s “Exchange” Concept to the underprivileged communities to build Zureikat in March 2007, is passionately stronger relations with those they aid. devoted to carrying hope and a sense of The Zikra initiative re-defines the traditional belonging to the underprivileged area of concept of donations and volunteering by The Micro-loan Projects Ghor Al Mazra’a, through creative financial introducing the “exchange” concept. The and technical aid. While enhancing the “exchange” concept establishes a relationship The micro-loan projects carried out by Zikra overall social image of the community in between the donors and those receiving the Initiative are based on providing the local Ghor Al Mazra’a, Zikra ultimately aspires to donations to spread empathy, understanding entrepreneurs with the financial support diminish the socio-economic strata through and pro-activity. This is realised through a necessary to establish their own business. The various interactive activities, encouraging reciprocation methodology, in which those project aims at enhancing the local community’s citizens from cross corners of the kingdom who offer aid to the underprivileged will receive financial status by encouraging self-discipline to unite in heartfelt initiatives. handicrafts, lectures, or reports conducted by and financial independence through sustainable members of the local community in return. The income. Although targeted at both genders, the origin of the initiative’s name “Zikra,” (the Arabic majority of micro-loan holders are now women word for memory) is rooted from the exchange - because one: it promotes equality amidst a concept. For Zikra “donating” is the act of male dominated society, and two: the women “Passing a Zikra” (memory) from one person to are mainly the managers of households. The the other. Such Zikrayat (memories) may include: participation fees of all of Zikra’s events go clothes, toys, utensils, books, workshops towards raising funds for the micro-loans. Zikra (via personal skills and talents). Members are engages interactively between volunteers and encouraged to pass their memories personally the community producing tangible results for 118 Best of Jordan
    • the volunteers, who are able to see the effect of Voluntourism their contributions firsthand. Once the business breaks even and the loan is repaid through Zikra Initiative is working towards popularizing monthly installments, the funds are re-donated Ghor Al Mazr’a as an exciting touristy destination to a new family. The progress of the businesses for Jordanian and foreigners alike. The can be seen through videos on Zikra’s youtube voluntourism program not only combines tourism channel. with volunteer work, but also aids in raising money for the village and the micro-loan program, as The Development through Art Project well as helps create jobs for the local community. Also, it constitutes a strong tool in breaking cross Zikra Initiative advocates the power of art, cultural misconceptions, as it promotes peace the power of self expression, and the power and understanding among different cultures and of comradely it brings. Zikra habitually holds socio-economic backgrounds. The “Bandora workshops of various natures which expose Day” (i.e. Tomato Day) for example, is becoming the community to a spectrum of self expression increasingly popular with eager participants forms. The arts include: handicrafts, painting, from all over Jordan gathering with the village’s theatre, filmmaking, music and much more. locals for a fun and lighthearted orientation tour Exposing the community at the Ghor to such arts on tomato harvesting. This encourages healthy is an eye opening experience, providing them intermingling, self confidence and respect for with an opportunity to explore their potential, and the harvesters, while of course helping to raise a chance of possible financial independence on funds. Moreover, Zikra’s hiking trips to Seil the long run. Weda’a are becoming increasingly popular by the day, with large social groups of either friends or corporations booking well in advance for these exciting, charitable trips. Best of Jordan 119
    • Rabee’ Zureikat NGOs A Young Man with Massive Dreams Founder of the Zikra Initiative, Rabee’ Tell us about yourself and your background? Zureikat, opens his heart over inspirations, the local community and future aspirations. I was born in England, and raised in Jordan. I later gained my degree in Advertising & Marketing in Beirut. After I stepped into a career in marketing, In November 2008, Rabee’ Zureikat was although I do enjoy it tremendously, I found that selected as a social innovator by The I still wanted to accomplish more in terms of Synergos Institute in its Synergos Arab humanitarian fulfilment. World Social Innovators Program. The highly competitive program selected 22 What inspired you to start Zikra? others, all of whom were chosen from a pool of more than 150 highly qualified First and foremost it is my love for Jordan that candidates from 5 different countries. inspires everything I do though Zikra. I have always had a passion of discovering our country, really discovering it. Through many trips around the kingdom, I was awestruck by many scenic beauties and charmed by numerous folkloric experiences, but I was also saddened by some truths. With such observations unearthed, I felt inspired to lend a hand, albeit a humble one, to help develop or improve certain areas. After getting involved with a number of local charities, most of my ideas on charity were regarded as non-conforming and therefore mostly dismissed. Starting my own charity eventually became inevitable. I read the book by Peter Gubser, Politics and Change in Al-Karak- Jordan (translated by Dr.Khaid Karaki), and it tremendously inspired me. The book shed light on some serious issues in the area of Ghor Al Mazra’a (one of the 12 poverty pockets of Jordan as declared by the government), and that’s where my heart led me to start working. Zikra for me is my form of expression. Some express by singing, painting, or writing; I found my conveying channel through founding Zikra. How is the Jordanian public responding to Zikra so far? The response has been very well indeed. There are many in Jordan, especially the youth, who 120 Best of Jordan
    • have always been more than ready and willing Furthermore, the Spanish Embassy has been a to get involved in special causes, but many loyal partner with Zikra, sponsoring some of our times simply did not know how or where to “Development through Art” projects such as the start. Zikra Initiative has provided a fun, hip and art workshop, and including the Ghor community interactive way of contributing to a charitable in their cultural initiatives such as sponsoring the cause. Besides many individuals, we also have miming workshop. numerous schools and companies on board; it’s just great to see such big and constantly growing Finally what’s in the pipeline for Zikra in numbers in communal involvements. By the day, 2009? we receive more and more response. I am really glad and grateful. 2009 is going to be an exciting year for us. We are going to continue advancing our Development How is Zikra associated with the Amman through Art and Microloan programs, in addition Filmmakers Cooperative (AFC)? to diversified plans of further expanding and popularizing our Voluntourism programs. The Jordan Film Festival, which is organized by Secondly, we are going to concentrate on IT the AFC now holds regular activities with us. educational programs with monetary benefits; Hazim Bitar, founder of the AFC has extended acquisition of such knowledge and skill would great support, carrying out regular workshops generate income while overcoming transportation in Ghor Al Mazra’a on cinematic and filmmaking barriers. Also, we look forward to advancing the arts. For a couple of years now, I have learnt a community’s artistic capabilities, in order to sell lot from Hazim in terms of montage and creating authentic products such as handicrafts in the short films, all of which has helped me widely mainstream market. Finally, in partnership with gain more publicity for the Zikra’s cause. So far, the Amman Filmmaking Cooperative, we are the short films we have produced include Ya increasing our innovative film productions. Halawood, Rasha, Hamdan wa Alayyan, Abeer and Wasta. Have you had any reactions from the private sector? Frankly, we have had very supportive responses from all ends. VARCC Arabian Communications (PR agency) has offered us full services as part of their CSR program. Toyota has regularly provided transportation for our trips of al sizes. www.zikrajordan.org Best of Jordan 121
    • Ruwwad NGOs Pioneers for a Better Amman The recent success of the home-grown Jordanian movie, Captain Abu Raed, propped the Jordanian movie industry but simultaneously shed light on the dire needs of less privileged communities in Jordan. An organization which has traditionally provided empowerment and support for such communities is Ruwwad, which in Arabic translates literally to Pioneers. Ruwwad has created a platform to activate positive change, while advocating overall lifestyle improvements. The drive from East Amman to the hills of West When Ruwwad’s project started in 2005, the area Amman can sometimes feel surreal. As the ground lacked the presence of a police station, a health elevates so does the quality of life. Reminiscent center, a post office and any recreation areas of Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities, the trek for children. The area suffers from a multitude of between each side of the city could feel like a social problems including many single-mother cultural move between two distinctive countries. families, drug-related violence, a high-level of The humble homes of East Amman give way to school delinquency, poor housing conditions the manicured villas and apartments of West and a high birth rate. Ruwwad’s advocacy work Amman. The laughing children pulling their with the government and some of its agencies, home-made kites in the grimy streets of the East as well as partnerships with the community have provide a stark contrast to the fancy playgrounds changed the face of the area. Thanks to these and nurseries in the West sides of the city. efforts, Jabal Nathif now enjoys the services of Although discrepancies between these two areas a police station, health center, and a post office. can be overwhelming at times, an institution such as Ruwwad works hard to bridge the gaps. Ruwwad projects in Jabal Nathif have comfy, almost nostalgic sounding names like Jeeran, Ruwwad is funded solely by individuals and Shababeek, and Shams al Jabal Library; all which companies from the private sector and was work concurrently to elevate the hardships of initiated with the purpose of acting as a catalyst the people in this area and provide educational, for members of marginalized communities to work financial, cultural, and social resources to its together meeting the needs of their communities. most vulnerable citizens. With initial funding from The community plays a principal role in both the ARAMEX, Ruwwad spent a year engaging with identification and resolution of its developmental the community, meeting people, building mutual needs. People are encouraged to overcome their trust, and understanding people’s views and the vulnerable conditions by actively participating in factors which influence their lives and thinking. defining and pursuing their objectives. The big room for improvement in Jabal Nathif is abundant in numerous other areas in East Ruwwad’s two main locations are centered Amman. Therefore, such achievements would around Jabal Nathif and Beidha projects. serve to create a model that can be replicated in Jabal Nathif is a community in East Amman, similar communities around the country. incorporating the Mohammed Amin refugee camp (not officially recognized as a camp) which remains under-developed and badly constructed. The entire area suffers from high population density, crowded living conditions and lack of certain services. It suffers from 50% higher unemployment than the national average, and 50% fewer higher education graduates. 122 Best of Jordan
    • The results of Ruwwad’s efforts have been a The future of the poverty-stricken communities in grassroots approach which directly consulted East Amman still hangs in the blowing wind of this with the people most affected by the initiatives. old city. Yet, with agencies like Ruwwad leading These initiatives embody the values of the way, visions of a brighter East Amman appear volunteerism, cooperation, self-empowerment closer to tangible realities. Finally, as the sun and civic engagement, which Ruwwad has sets on the gentle sloping hills of West Amman, become known for in the area, allowing the common knowledge dictates that the sun always organization to continuously build more ties and rises in the East. relationships in the community. www.ruwwad.net Best of Jordan 123
    • “I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians.” -Francis Ford Coppola
    • Film Making in Jordan CHAPTER NINE
    • Amman Film Cooperative (AFC) FILM MAKING IN JORDAN Dreams through the Lens When Hazim Bitar, founder of the Amman The movie business worldwide is not an easy The AFC was started by Hazim Bitar as a Film Cooperative (AFC), received the phone industry to break into. Considering the relative cine club in 2002, beginning as a social call, he was in a press event in Russia. The cost of creating a film, the logistics of producing, network of passionate cinema lovers. In 2003, call was from a joyful colleague informing and the realities of marketing and promoting the the cooperative started offering filmmaking him that his latest movie, The View, had won final creation, there are many hurdles one must workshops and production support to indie a Black Pearl award for Best Short Narrative jump through. Firstly, Hazim Bitar’s dream was to filmmakers. The AFC viewed cinema as a powerful in the Middle East International Film Festival create an organization that lends disadvantaged tool for self-expression, and an effective medium in Abu Dhabi. Initially, Hazim thought it was minorities a second chance to tell their stories for intercultural communication and for building a bluff. A practical joke played by one of through film. However, the eventual reality of bridges. The cooperative considers itself as a not- his workers. However it was no joke, the AFC, became a well established one with strong for-profit cultural initiative and talent incubator, success of the The View and the organization presence, after having struggled through barriers which seeks to promote independent Jordanian which provided its life blood is no fiction. It of entry and lack of funding. 50 films, countless and Palestinian diaspora filmmaking through is a biographical story of accomplishments nominations, and a few prizes later, the AFC training, experimentation, and networking. The against improbable odds. has managed to prove that obstacles can be AFC is also responsible for the organization of overcome, and that dreams do come true with several festivals to promote Jordanian movies unstoppable passion. including the Jordanian Short Film Festival (JSFF). The JSFF, which runs every November, is a great venue for aspiring filmmakers to display their latest productions. The festival provides an opportunity for filmmakers to receive direct feedback from the public, while moviegoers may sample the latest Jordanian movies. The 126 Best of Jordan
    • AFC also organizes a variety of workshops for the public. These specialized classes include lessons in scriptwriting, documentary filmmaking, fictional filmmaking, directing, cinematography, production management, motion graphics, NLE editing, lighting, and sound design. A number of AFC students produced films and AFC movies which are shown on the YouTube channel online. The various activities that the AFC performs indeed play a significant role in the growth of the Jordanian film industry. As the film industry in the Kingdom develops, the narratives of various marginalized groups in the country will always be professed by the AFC. The task of giving voice to the voiceless, which at times might sound cliché, is nevertheless one which AFC has chosen to undertake. Since 2003, AFC filmmakers who graduated from the cooperative’s educational programs have completed over 50 short films, many of which have been selected to world-class film festivals, such as: • The Academy-certified Huesca International Film Festival-Spain • The Academy-certified Tampere International Short Film Festival- Finland • The Academy-certified Seagate- Foyle International Film Festival- Northern Ireland • The Academy-certified Locarno International Film Festival- Switzerland Other regional film festivals have included: • The Dubai International Film Festival • The Ismailia Film Festival • The Tangier Film Festival • The Carthage Film Festival • The Dubai Film Festival www.ammanfilmmakers.alif.com Best of Jordan 127
    • The Royal Film Commission - Jordan (RFC) FILM MAKING IN JORDAN Established in 2003, the Royal Film The first Middle Eastern member of the training and educational programs for budding Commission – Jordan (RFC), aims at Association of Film Commissioners International, filmmakers working or aspiring to work in the developing an internationally competitive the RFC is headed by a board of executives from production industry. Jordanian audio-visual industry. The RFC is a the local production industry, and representatives financially and administratively independent of the public and private sectors. The RFC works The Royal Film Commission’s training programs Jordanian government entity, led by a Board towards building a solid and sustainable local film work towards establishing national audio visual of Commissioners, and chaired by HRH Ali industry, while facilitating productions in Jordan and multimedia learning environments, as well bin Al Hussein. by providing comprehensive services. It also as encouraging Jordanians to grow by realizing develops learning environments in cinematic arts their dreams. The programs, which target diverse across Jordan, and fosters initiatives that help age groups and career levels include: seminars, preserve and transfer our rich cultural heritage workshops, multimedia storytelling clubhouses, through audiovisual means. In addition, the RFC internships, and kingdom-wide screenings organizes thematic screenings throughout the among others. year all over the country, thus enriching the film culture in Jordan. Through environments that encourage freedom of thought and expression, the programs aim at Endorsing Expressions cultivating a population with fluency in multimedia, through nurturing specialized experts. The RFC seeks to empower Jordanians to tell their stories through audio-visual tools, Jordan: an ideal location thus contributing to cross-cultural, global understanding, and encouraging freedom of Positioning Jordan as an ideal location for expression. To hearten such expressions locally, international audio-visual productions is another the commission regularly creates hands-on chief priority, coupled with offering great locations, 128 Best of Jordan
    • creative resources and technical assistance. with plenty of skilled technical and artistic talent, Film House Facilitative aspects of the RFC include production not to mention English as a second language. An old villa in one of the oldest parts of the assistance, management, and a comprehensive The diversity and intensity of faces in the local capital (1st circle), has recently been acquired range of support services to local and foreign community have also proved very attractive for by the RFC and turned into Jordan’s first center productions. the international film industry. for audiovisual arts. The Film House, or Bayt al- Aflam, strives to become a local and regional hub For a multitude of reasons, modern Jordan Fostering the Film Culture for audiovisual creativity and filmmaking. It is an provides an ideal setting for filming: government open space for anyone interested in watching support, environmental stability and security, as By organizing regular screenings in the Capital and discussing films, learning about films and well as unique historic and multi- religious locations and other various cities which may lack filmmaking and eventually making a film. all serve as attractive providential aspects. The commercial theaters, the RFC showcases quality vast range of un-spoilt, breathtaking landscapes Arab and international movies, as an oppurtunity and eco-systems, coupled with moderate for audiences to get an acquainted with quality weather year-round provides advantageous films that are not shown in commercial theaters options for filmmakers worldwide. Also, the or on television. During the screenings, film Kingdom’s progressive telecommunication directors or film critics are often present to system and infrastructure ensure that all aspects discuss the pictures with the public. of contemporary requirements are easily available. From a monetary perspective, Jordan offers In summer, the RFC’s scenic outdoor theater is numerous tempting incentives and benefits, from prepared with comfortable cushions, and a large free-trade agreements with the U.S, Europe, and screen for cinema buffs to watch and discuss a the Middle East, to a stable currency, all modern variety of films from all over the world. financial services are at hand. Moreover, the local society at large is educated and hospitable, www.rfc.jo Best of Jordan 129
    • The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA) FILM MAKING IN JORDAN Camera, Light, Action: The Birth of a Film School When the tiny white house blew up in the usually quiet town of Madaba, the shepherd tending his flock nearby barely flinched. The shepherd understood that the explosion was not the beginning of a foreign military invasion, but rather a much more ambivalent type of invasion. The sound emanated from the motion picture shooting of Brian De Palma’s critically acclaimed film, Redacted. The last few years have seen an increasing number of films being shot in Jordan, and simultaneously Jordanian movies have started to receive exposure in film festivals around the globe. As Jordan hails in a new era of film making and cinematography, institutions like the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA) lead the way. At the recommendation of Steven Spielberg to His Majesty King Abdullah II, collaboration was formed between the Royal Film Commission of Jordan and the University of Southern California (USC). Home to the oldest and most successful cinema program in the United States, the USC School of Cinematic Arts has over 10,000 alumni who are among the entertainment industry’s most distinguished professionals. A mere four years later, this collaborative agreement bloomed in the shape of the Middle East’s very first graduate film school on the coast of Aqaba; the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA), inaugurated in September 2008. The protégé of USC, RSICA’s graduate program promises to be a key catalyst in propelling the Jordanian and Middle Eastern movie industry forward at a world-class standard. Working together, the RFC and USC designed RSICA as an advanced graduate-level media training program, drawing on Jordan’s unique strengths, history and position in the region. RSICA’s goal is to stimulate media business development in the Middle Eastern region. This includes preparing a highly-trained pool of exceptional media makers, attracting production to the area, and stimulating distribution of Middle Eastern media both regionally and internationally. RSICA offers advanced professional education in cinema and television, as well as a wide range of dynamic screen-based media. It is mentored by an outstanding international faculty which supports career development for high-level media making. 130 Best of Jordan
    • The Masters of Fine Arts in Cinematic Arts program offered by RSICA is a full time two-year degree program, with an optional third year for the development of an advanced, specialized project. Initially admitting only up to 25 highly qualified students per year, the school’s capacity is set to expand to 150 students annually. At its centre, the MFA in Cinematic Arts has four team- taught elements, starting with the Production Workshop that provides students with an opportunity to perform key collaborative roles in digital media, documentary, film and television productions. At the foundation of the course is Screenwriting and Narrative Storytelling; the art of ‘telling’ stories with sound and moving images. This workshop emphasizes screenwriting, as well as research and interview skills, script writing techniques, and the primary principles of visual storytelling. Also at the ongoing heart of the two year program, is Producing and Business of the Media Industry which includes the stages of production, budgeting and scheduling, the roles of the producer, director and other key talents in film making, as well as location management, marketing and distribution fundamentals and requirements. Students will learn how to pitch ideas, negotiate deals, and pursue opportunities. Last but not least, the Cinema Studies, which equips students with critical studies of international film, television, and new media from diverse historical and theoretical perspectives, with particular attention to the region. While its future permanent campus is being The immense effort that RSICA is investing built, currently RSICA is centrally housed on towards building its foundations, is a reflection of the upper three floors of a contemporary the powerful contributions it will have in building professional building in downtown Aqaba. Its the foundations of the Jordanian movie industry. facilities include a 5.1 professional screening room with Surround Sound and High Definition projection that comfortably seats 50, a 21 seat Avid Post Production Lab networked with Unity, a Sound Stage with permanent set for studio work, a Cinema Library with extensive books, as well as periodical and DVD resources covering a wide range of international cinema and much more. www.rsica.com Best of Jordan 131
    • Captain Abu-Raed FILM MAKING IN JORDAN Jordanian Filmmaking Takes Off to New Heights Amongst the glitz and glamour of the Sundance Festival in Utah, a small independent film from Jordan managed to tug at the hearts of the judges. Captain Abu Raed, a universal story of dreams, friendship, forgiveness and sacrifice was the first Jordanian film to win the World Cinema Audience Awards at Sundance. A resounding success for the cast and makers of Captain Abu Raed, the achievement is also a clear indication of the new heights that Jordanian cinema has reached. A grey-bearded, elderly man holds two bags filled with fresh fruit as he achingly climbs the equally old steps of East Amman. The protagonist has the warm look of a caring grandfather, his hopeful eyes reflecting years of living. He settles on top of the hill, on the rocks of a citadel built a long time ago. The neighbourhood children gather around him, excited to hear stories of cities which they would never likely see. The old janitor starts to tell them stories of Paris, London, and Madrid as their looks of boredom and apathetic hopelessness turn into bright smiles of hope and ecstasy. At the airport where he worked, he is simply known as Abu Raed, but to the cheerful youngsters he is known as Captain Abu Raed. “Captain Abu Raed” is a straightforward heart- tugging melodrama that feels like an old- fashioned Italian or French picture in emotional tenor. The movie is a tale of an elderly airport janitor mistaken for a glamorous international pilot by his neighborhood kids. Nadim Sawalha, a prominent Jordanian actor, plays the role of the altruistic janitor. One of the film’s most welcome achievements is its casually diverse portrait of Amman, rarely seen in cinema. In an everyday, non-touristic way, the pictures provide a strong impression of many districts across various economic strata. We see glimpses of East Amman interposed with views of the modern areas of Western Amman, seamlessly interplaying into the movie’s critical moments. 132 Best of Jordan
    • The Sundance Film Festival was not the only place where Captain Abu-Raed managed to impress the critics. From Helsinki to Newport Beach, the movie has steamrolled to win one award after another, collecting a total of 25 in over 35 countries so far on its path to cinema glory. Yet its success has not been limited to independent movie ceremonies across the world; it has also enjoyed widespread appeal in the European and American markets. On November 6, 2008, Captain Abu Raed received US theatrical distribution from NeoClassics Films along with the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa, making it the first Jordanian film to do so. The film will be released in April/May 2009 starting with New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Captain Abu-Raed was submitted to the Academy Awards in November 2008; proof that its success was neither fluke nor an anomaly. The film’s ability to transcend different cultures can be credited to its universalistic message, excellent acting by the cast, and Amin Matalqa’s ingenious directing. Amin Matalqa, the Jordanian director behind who were selected from charity-run summer Captain Abu-Raed, has become a household camps. The Royal Film Commission (RFC), name in the Jordanian movie industry, and which was created in 2003 to stimulate growth in increasingly in the international film scene. Jordan’s film industry, was instrumental in helping The film was shot on location in Salt and East production crews secure locations. As Jordan Amman in 23 days with a budget of $2 million. continues to reach for new heights in developing The majority of the crew was Jordanian, while a film-production industry, movies like “Captain the 90-persons crew further represented 14 Abu Raed” and establishments like the Royal nationalities combining the talents of Tunisian, Film Commission will always be remembered as Lebanese and Moroccan filmmakers, along having led the way. with Americans and Canadians. The children in the movie are neither famous personalities nor actors by trade. Matalqa and Jordanian producer Nadine Toukan traveled throughout Jordan to cast the right mix of boys and girls, www.captainaburaed.com Best of Jordan 133
    • “Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.” -Stella Adler
    • Suzanne Abu Jaber C R E AT I V E P I O N E E R S A pioneer in the vibrant world of Interior Architecture in Jordan, Suzanne Abu Jaber’s profession dawned when she was literally among just a handful of interior designers in town. Today, a multitude of eminent governmental, commercial and residential projects continue to crown the dynamics of her career path. From conceptual consultation to full design implementation, Suzanne’s company, Design Corner, brings a new flair to interior space. Footsteps into sizable commercial and governmental projects; most notably, the Jordanian Foreign Suzanne Abu Jaber completed high school with Ministry. honours, achieving 5th placement in the Science stream across Jordan. To the disappointment of Challenges many at the time, she had decided to study Interior Design as opposed to the clichéd expectancy of An excited Suzanne had returned from England pursuing a “medical” or “engineering” degree with immense dreams and aspirations. Although as typified in our culture back then. She gained she was faced with many challenges as a her BA degree from The City of Birmingham young, and later a married female, she never Polytechnic Aston University in Birmingham, allowed anything to slow her down despite the England. When interior design boomed in Jordan burden. Initially, learning to deal with labourers during the early 1980s, Suzanne emerged at the and comprehending their lingo was a challenge centre of its buzz, embarking upon her career by itself. On a daily basis, Suzanne strived to with a concentration on residential projects. Soon prove herself amidst a mainly male dominated enough, her scope of work expanded to include circle of engineers, architects, and potential commercial ventures as well; all of which gained clients. Musing over the past she said, “Allowing her a rightful standing over the next two decades a setback to stand in my way quite simply wasn’t as a professional and gifted Interior Architect / an option, as I have always thrived on challenges. Designer, with an utterly unique vision of her Once I put my mind to something, I have to make own. Towards the year 2000, Suzanne achieved it succeed.” On switching from a freelancer to principal milestones as she dynamically moved an entrepreneur she said, “When I opened my 136 Best of Jordan
    • Before After own business, Design Corner, the challenges a harmonious design flow inside out (with few governmental projects. Referring to her work with simultaneously expanded. The adjustment from exceptions to this rule).” Suzanne typically adapts a multitude of international clients such as the US running a “one man show” to running a full to her client’s tastes, complimenting their chosen Aid and JICA projects, Suzanne expressed her fledged establishment was enormous, but every style with her seasoned experience to perfect the gratitude for the solid recognition of Jordanian strain-full moment was rewarded with countless result; albeit sometimes feels inclined to advise talent in due course. others of success,” she said before concluding them differently if their preferences deviate from with a smile, “Well you know...no pain no gain…” the concept of the overall design. In terms of practicality, the local supply of materials had been very limiting, and the variety The Passion of Design & Architecture Interior Design in Jordan; Now and Then was always restricted to merchants’ personal tastes. Suzanne recalls that many design Suzanne had primarily aspired to become “In the early 1980s, the general perception aspirations had been crippled with this shortage; an architect, however streamed into Interior of Interior Design in Jordan was regarded as however this fact had also pushed her to make Architecture all the same. Immensely clued-up ‘uncalled for luxury’. Today thankfully, there is do in the most imaginative, original ways. With on the ins and outs of technicalities such as the a realization that Interior Design is a necessary a factual tone she concluded, “All in all I now electrical and mechanical details of structural prerequisite for the establishment of successfully realise, that every shortage and stumble back design, her passion is palpable in her channel functional interior space initially, and the then has paid tribute to all the design elements of communications. On design styles and blossoming of business consequently,” explained and creativity which distinguish my work today. preferences, Suzanne stresses, “Successful Suzanne with relief. Towards the late 1990s, We are after all a sum of our experiences.” designers must respect the architecture of the Jordan saw a great leap in the importance and space in which they are working .I always remain appreciation of Interior Design; biggest witness faithful to the external architecture, ensuring to that being its penetration into eminent Before After Best of Jordan 137
    • Darat Al Funun C R E AT I V E P I O N E E R S The House that Art Built Great Art picks up where Nature ends. -Marc Chagall Marc Chagall’s profound quote rang true during the untold suffering of World War II. Yet, it has a lot of relevance when one looks at Darat al Funun, a prominent establishment that supports arts in Jordan. Nestled in the hills of East Amman, the acre of terraced gardens gives way to an old Byzantine Church, the site of Darat al Funun. Supporting arts through advocacy and training, while serving as an exhibitions site, Darat al Funun has become an artistic and cultural icon of Jordan. Since its founding in 1993, Darat al Funun has building offers three large exhibition halls and come to realize its vision of bringing together a specialized library. The Blue House building various forms of artistic expressions, and revealing was originally built by workers from Jordan’s the dynamism of contemporary ideas and art Circassian community for Ismail Haqqi Abdo (the practices. Within Darat al Funun’s perimeters, former governor of Akka). In its front courtyard, a creative art and critical discourse are fostered fountain surrounded by trees creates the perfect endlessly. Its indoor and outdoor exhibition areas, atmosphere for a small café where visitors, workshops, and artists-in-residence programs students, and artists meet. provide a platform for visual arts. The mounting of innovative exhibitions, film screenings, live Another house, named Dar Khalid in 2002, dates performances, and multidisciplinary activities from the same period as the other buildings, and create an environment conducive to intercultural, was once home to Sheikh Fouad al Khateeb, artistic exchange. poet and advisor at the court of Emir Abdullah. Today, Dar Khalid is a museum dedicated to the All the buildings at Darat al Funun have histories memory and legacy of Darat al Funun’s founder synonymous with an artistic, cultural past. Until and art patron, the late Khalid Shoman. His art 1938, the two-storey structure of Darat al Funun works from his private collection are on display served as the official residence of the British alongside temporary exhibitions, emphasizing commander of the Arab Legion, Colonel F. G. the need to preserve the work and aesthetic Peake. After extensive renovations, the main expressions of Arab artists for future generations. 138 Best of Jordan
    • Also in 2002, Darat al Funun was incorporated harmonious collision with many other imaginative into the non-profit Khalid Shoman Foundation. forms of self- expression. At Darat al Funun, visiting and resident artists As artists create new visual languages that produce and exhibit artworks in a variety of explore regional or universal issues, and draw media; from painting to printmaking, sculpture inspiration from exchange with one another, the to installation, and photography to video art. world of contemporary Arab art thrives. For some The screening of films on history of art, and the artists, Darat al Funun may be their stepping- specialized reference publications of the library stone to greater exposure; for Arab artists living are invaluable resources for those interested abroad, it may serve as a vital link with their in serious research on art, from ancient to homeland. In more ways than one, everyday, contemporary times. Moreover, guided tours Darat al Funun’s aspiration to become a haven of are specially organized for students and art is being fulfilled. groups around the exhibitions, in addition to regularly programmed literary meetings and book signings. Amid rows of illuminated Roman columns, a variety of performing arts shows are frequently staged. Today, Darat al Funun is a living, blooming meeting point where the public are invited to experience visual arts, in www.daratalfunun.org Best of Jordan 139
    • Omar Al Abdallat C R E AT I V E P I O N E E R S Jordan’s First International Artist Omar Al Abdallat’s celebrated style of upbeat, traditional folk music saw his quick rise to fame as an authentic artist of Jordanian songs and music. Always seizing to develop himself and his music from one height to the next, he ultimately became a household name in the Arab world at large. An envoy of Jordan’s melodic wealth, he has managed to popularize the treasure of traditional music amidst pop consumed communities. Omar Al Abdallat’s innate passion and talent efforts of conserving elements of Jordan’s culture strengthened the boarding of his very early, yet and tradition through his songs. very persistent start. From the very young age of 12, Al Abdallat attracted sizable attention for his Al Abdallat’s many released albums are known powerful, often nostalgic voice. Today, his patent to express the deepest emotions of national, presence in the Arabic music scene continues traditional, and even romantic songs. The intensity to shine straight into the hearts of many. His of his music has always been complimented by music embraces the essence of Jordanian folk, his collaborations with the some of the industry’s and blends it with subtle, contemporary tempos; greatest poets, composers, and arrangers in eventually producing catchy tunes which have Jordan and the Arab world, as well as, of course, come to be admired by fans the world over. his own compositions. It is worth noting that few of his most popular albums have solely and A combination of his charming voice, authentic famously voiced love and admiration for the style, and clever approach over the years carried Kingdom. Omar Al Abdallat has filmed a number him to the center point of the region’s most of his romantic songs in video clips which aimed popular festivals, satellite channels, and leading to match the tastes and expectations of his media. At the very forefront of sustaining Al fans. Also, through most of his music videos, Abdallat’s zest for his musical career, has been he always focuses on revealing Jordan’s natural the continuous support of the Royal Hashemite beauty, cultures, and traditions. family, as well as the unwavering encouragement of the Jordanian media and loyal fans. The first Jordanian artist to perform individual shows in both local and international festivals, Al Among his most notable career benchmarks, is Abdallat’s thriving career has taken him to multi the honor of receiving “Al Hussein Decoration festivals and concerts across the world. He has for Distinguished Contribution” from His Majesty performed throughout most of the United States, King Abdullah, in recognition for his special Canada, Europe, and Australia to substantial numbers of fans. 140 Best of Jordan
    • Omar Al Abdallat is widely identified for using his Omar Al Abdallat’s Festival established position in more than a few humane Performances include: initiatives. His involvements have stretched to Jerash Festival / Kartaj Festival / Babel include support for diversified charity associations Festival / Tadmar Festival / Dubai Shopping and cultural centers, with emphasis on support Festival / Al Qarm Festival - Oman / Spring for children’s cancer treatments, brain paralysis, Festival – Al Ein / Sabsatieh Festival – diabetes, and retardation. His communal Palestine / Al Dar Al Baida Festival / Salala involvements have further adopted myriad youth Festival – Muscat / First Orbit Festival / The issues through awareness and educational Arab Child Festival / Al Fuheis Festival / Al campaigns. Also, he has participated in official Azraq Festival / Al Karak / Global Village Jordanian initiatives; most recently in Her Majesty Festival / Jordan Festival / Amman Summer Queen Rania’s “Ahl il Himmeh” Campaign. Festival / Akkath Festival / Alexandria Festival. Al Abdallat has also ventured into his first acting experience through his starring role in the Bedouintelevision show, Teeran Al Bawadi, which Prominent Collaborations with Arab was considered the first musical, Bedouin show Song Poets Include: to hit the silver screen. Prince Khaled Al Faisal / Sheikh Nahyan Bin Zayed / Dr. Saleh Al Shadi / Talal Al Saeed / Salem Seif Al Khaldi / Ali Al Kilani / Ali Msa’ed / Kareem Al Iraqi / Bin Abboud / Majed Zureikat / Yaseen Al Lozi / Kathem Al Saadi / Naser Harbi / Ali Al Khwar / Saado Al Deeb / Ahmad Al Thba’ee / Waleed Ibrahim / Suleiman Al Mashini. Collaborations with Most Prominent Arab Composers Include: Anwar Abdullah / Al Yafe’ / Fareed Al Breiki / Majed Al Muhandes / Juma Al Arabi / Hasan Faleh / Abdullah Seif / Naser Al Harbi / Shaker Hasan / Ahmad Al Hilu / Saado Al Deeb. Omar Al Abdallat’s Compositions for Jordanian and Arab Stars Include: Abdullah Rwaished / Asalah Nasri / Zikra / Sumaya Hasan / Ali Abd Al Sattar / Ghada Rajab / Fulla Al Jazaeriyyah / Diana Karazon / Ghada Abbasi / Zein Awad / Abdullah Bilkheir / Sa’doun Jaber / May Kassab / Asma’ Al Manwar / Nahawand / Miteb Al Saqqar / Amal Shibli / Samira Al Asali / Mahmoud Al Khayyat. Collaborations with Most Prominent Music Arrangers in Jordan and the Arab World Include: Hisham Nayyaz / Omar Abd Al Aziz / Ayman Abdullah / Hamid Al Shaeri / Mustapha Abd Al Nabi / Ibrahim Radio / Wael Al Sharqawi. Best of Jordan 141
    • iPlay Musicenter C R E AT I V E P I O N E E R S Playing the Majestic The sounds of the piano ensemble reverberate from the walls of the New English School auditorium, arousing the spirits of the audience within the confines of the building. The angelic vocals resonate throughout the halls while the sounds of guitars and violins create the perfect climax to a musical evening. This canopy of musical experiences came from the first annual students concert organized by iPlay Musicenter; reflecting the dedication and accomplishments of this truly Jordanian musical institution. The quest for musical genius starts at a young age. In Jordan, the training and facilities available for fostering and nurturing young musical minds have always been few and far in between. Enter iPlay Musicenter, one man’s solutions to this shortage. Founded by Shady Khashram in 2007, iPlay is a haven of support and promotion to the music industry and society in Jordan. Centrally located in Sweifieh, the center is quickly becoming an important part of the musical chord in Jordan. Shady Khashram is head of the Guitar Department at Jordan University and a BA teacher for students at the Jordan Academy of Music. The music aficionado was motivated to establish iPlay to serve as a meeting point for aspiring musicians, a training center for young prodigies, a venue for the exchange of ideas, and a jamming site for more proficient artists. As far as its original purposes are concerned, iPlay has been a resounding success. It accomplishes this by providing three essential services; a 142 Best of Jordan
    • music academy, a showroom with maintenance services, and various events. The showroom sells a huge variety of musical instruments. The majority of brands found in the showroom can only be found in this distinctive location. This includes the world-renowned Ibanez, Washburn and Takamine electric and acoustic guitars, Kawai pianos, Pearl and Tama drum sets among others. The facility also provides maintenance services for most musical instruments. This comprises piano tuning, piano transportation and moving services, piano rentals, and the repair of all kinds of musical instruments including guitars and drums. iPlay’s Music academy is one of the most progressive schools in the region, aiming to provide its patrons with a unique, customized teaching process that takes into account all student needs. The academy is affiliated with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in the UK through the NMC, perhaps one of the most prominent names in music training centres in the world. The staff of the school travel to Jordan twice a year in April and November, to test and certify students of iPlay. The representatives from the Royal Schools of Music endorse students from grade 1 through to grade 8, and award diplomas to students of more advanced grades. The Music Academy provides both theoretical and practical education to over 200 students including piano, vocals, guitars, drums, oud, string instruments, and wind instruments training. The school’s facilities include ten fully-equipped training rooms and 20 highly qualified instructors. The Academy also provides teachers to schools such as Choufeit and ICS for conducting after- school musical training sessions. iPlay holds a variety of events throughout the year that serve both as cultural and musical affairs, and lucrative opportunities. The center organizes for professional musicians to perform at a spectrum of functions including private parties, weddings, corporate events, and conferences. Such entertainment includes diverse styles such as classical, 80s, Spanish, retro, and modern. Also, the center organizes two annual events in winter and spring, showcasing talents of its students. These concerts are an echoing testament to the development of the fine talents that iPlay Musicenter has nurtured. Tel: +96265868676 www.iplaymc.jo Best of Jordan 143
    • Tareq Al Nasser and Rum Group C R E AT I V E P I O N E E R S Music that Transcends Boundaries “Rum .. A project to create music that exceeds the geographical • Tareq Al Nasser has composed more boundaries in all its deep human meanings and expressions” than 55 musical pieces. -Arab al Yawm describing the performance of Tareq al Nasser’s group, Rum, after listening in to one of their magnificent concerts. • Developed more than 33 rearrangements for local & Tareq Al Nasser, a pioneer in the creation of a new movement in modern Arabic music, has international folkloric songs. become a distinguished Jordanian music symbol in an increasingly global world. In many ways, Tareq’s music is an embodiment of the country as a whole; a desire to modernize while maintaining a stout respect for past traditions. • “Rum Group” has built an impressive record that includes holding 125 concerts through its Musical achievement has always been a difficult and audiences beyond borders. His mesmerising participations in international hill to climb for most artists in Jordan. While compositions have been featured in many of festivals in more than 40 cities the advanced music industries in neighbouring the Bedouin-themed television series that are worldwide and working with 200 countries may create the ideal environment for regularly broadcast in the Arab world. talents to bloom, the much smaller market and musicians from different fewer relative strengths in supporting the music Al Nasser’s innovative talents take varied forms nationalities. industry in Jordan create significant barriers of including musical composition, arrangement, & entry to most aspiring musicians. Yet, far from rearrangement of old pieces and folk songs of • RUM had the honour of being the canopy of struggling musicians, Tareq al music. His work bears witness to his capacity in selected by the Hashemite Royal Nasser has uniquely broken through and created dealing with musical compositions; retaining their Court to participate in many private a lasting reputation in the region. original spirit while adding personal elements events including performances of foresight, modernism, and creativity. He during visits of Foreign Presidents Tareq al Nasser sits on his black grand piano as approaches musical arrangements from an and Royalties such as the King he meticulously weaves an orchestral number; engineering perspective. For him, re-arranging of Sweden, the King of Spain, the keys of his instrument reverberating in the musical heritage is a responsibility we should the President of Ireland, and the glitzy studios at his Amman headquarters. hold and care for, as it is an accumulation of a President of Bulgaria. Al Nasser’s accomplishments have gained series of musical experiences. appreciation way further than the local music scene, reaching to increasingly wide prominence 144 Best of Jordan
    • Tareq Al Nasser’s most important works include sound tracks and musical scores of popular Arab TV drama series such as: Nihayat Rajul Shouja’a (The End of a Brave Man) Al Jawareh’ (The Predators), Al Kawaser (The Accipitridae), Ekhwat Al Tourab (Brothers of the Earth), Yawmiyat Modir Aa’mm (Diaries of a General Director), Akher Ayyam Al Tout (The last days of the Mulberry), and Oures Al Saker (The Falcon’s Wedding) among many others. Moreover, Al Nasser composed and arranged the sound track of the film Jordan: A Royal Tour, presented by His Majesty King Abdullah II and produced by Travel Channel (2001). Not to mention the compositions and arrangements for “Arts Protects Children from Abuse” Album (2003) produced by Jordan River Foundation, in cooperation with of the Ministry of Education in Jordan, and the British Council. Recently, Tareq completed the rearrangement of 17 folkloric Palestinian songs for Ramallah Folklore Group in addition to 10 Jordanian chants and folklore songs. “Rum Tareq Al Nasser Musical Group” is an independent, non-profit, and nongovernmental organization founded in early 1998, which has rapidly gained a celebrated position in Jordan and the whole region. The group started with nine professional and amateur musicians that grew into an entity of over 20 members. Rum aims to Tareq Al Nasser is from a different generation than contribute through blending the spirit of original most of today’s young, struggling musicians, in Jordanian music with the music of world heritage, many ways, his struggle was even more difficult. creating a new line of musical experiences. The The increasingly active musical and film industry group continues to expand with more visions and in Jordan, albeit not as big as its competitors experiences in the attempt to reach the perfect in Egypt and Lebanon, is just beginning to musical combination. The typical diversity of flourish. The boundaries of entry which existed instruments ranging from Oriental to Western, in the past are slowly dissolving; still the odds are forms a new listening and imaginative experience stacked against the aspiring artist. One of Tareq every time. al Nasser’s greatest achievements, perhaps, is proving that persistence and great talent are the strongest bridge between dreams and reality. www.tareqalnasser.com Best of Jordan 145
    • Anees Maani C R E AT I V E P I O N E E R S Sculpting a Jordanian Masterpiece While strolling through the Jordanian National Gallery of Fine Arts Park, one can see children play in what appears to be a bean bag chair and a horizontal ladder. The meticulously crafted, abstract sculptures are the works of Anees Maani, an aspiring Jordanian sculptor who has made his mark on this forgotten art. Sculpting is no walk in the park. It is an art that requires the dedication of both hand and mind. The process of designing the perfect piece requires proper research and sketching, before it could be transferred over to the manual labour of building the structure. This whole process can take substantial time, as most projects take countless hours to craft. The method requires a theoretical understanding of this complex art; a prerequisite that Anees Maani met when he attended the Building Academy in Volgograd, Russia. A motivated Maani returned to Amman with an adamant fixation of taking his interest and talent in sculpting to new levels. In 1996, he started a two-year apprenticeship under the supervision of the Jordanian sculptor, Nazih Owais. A lot can happen in ten years, and in the case of Anees Maani it certainly has. The artist who started with a chisel and a dream, is now receiving an increasing amount of exposure as his unique work displays in various venues. The sculptures he creates are not limited to stone forms, but also include wood and bronze creations. Some sculptures are created directly by finding or carving, while others are assembled, built-up and fired, welded, molded, or cast. Anees Maani’s work takes a Picasso type modernism, and a Nabataen minimalist approach. His constructions are fashioned by combining disparate objects and materials into one assembled piece of sculpture. Maani refuses to name his creations; a prevailing characteristic of modern art which gives the viewer space to think and imagine each piece’s meaning. Maani’s biggest influence is the weathered, rough landscape of Jordan - a fact that permeates throughout most of his creations. Anees’s contribution to the art community in Jordan is not limited to sculpture. He is also heavily involved in different forms of painting including acrylic on wood and pencil on paper. Maani is also concerned with supporting art projects such as the book Field Guide to Jordan, which documents different areas of the Kingdom’s varied terrain through maps, colour photography and informative descriptions of 146 Best of Jordan
    • sites to visit. Besides sculpting and painting, he also designs copper jewellery, mostly inspired by the art of the Nabataen civilization among others. Anees Maani has participated in many artists’ gatherings from the Triangle Trust Workshops in Shatana, North Jordan, and Scotland, to the Mahres Festival in Tunisia. Since 2007, Anees Maani also entered the flourishing movie industry of Jordan. He played several roles including a props buyer, assistant art director, and art director for films and T.V. commercials. This included Redacted, the critically acclaimed film about the Iraq War by Brian D. Palma, and The Hurt Locker, another critically acclaimed movie about Iraq by Kathryn Bigelow. In 2008, Anees Maani achieved the critical milestone of every aspiring artist and held his first solo exhibition at the Zara Center. The highly successful event was perhaps a foreshadow into the bright future that Anees Maani will eventually sculpt. Best of Jordan 147
    • Badr Ad-Duja C R E AT I V E P I O N E E R S Arts & Crafts Since 1999, Badr Ad-Duja Arts & Crafts Gallery has stood as the ultimate showcase in folkloric beauty. In Arabic, Badr Ad-Duja literally means “the full moon at night”; the arts housed within it truly shine just as brilliantly as the implication in the name. More than just a gallery, this space will take you back to a glorious time amid its mesmerising oriental treasures. The founder of Badr Ad-Duja, May Khoury, has always been a fervent antiques collector, passionately devoted to preserving and promoting the richness of Arabian folk and heritage. To meet May Khoury, is to encounter the sheerest and most tender sense of Arabian pride and individualism - traits you’ll find reflected in each of her original creations. This sense of perceptible pride in May Khoury, is certainly contagious. Whether you come from an Arab origin or other, you’ll find yourself in awe of yesterday’s magnificence. May Khoury’s participation in several international handicraft festivals, has given her a chance to introduce her famed modern-antique, Jordanian creations to several countries worldwide. She also attended and participated in numerous conferences and workshops held globally, aimed at preserving cultural heritages through arts and crafts, and providing the financial instruments needed for women entrepreneurs to develop their small handicraft businesses. Badr Ad-Duja has indeed given “traditional” a novel name in all its innovative designs, as May uses and transforms antique elements derived from Arabian and Oriental culture, into a rainbow of modern works of art and function. Offering an extensive range of jewellery, home furnishings and decorative accessories as well as costumes, you’ll find everything at display has been revived with arty flairs. In our modern day, fast paced lives, there is no doubt that places like Badr Ad- Duja call for the awakening, celebration, and remembrance of our rich heritage. 148 Best of Jordan
    • All the housed creations seem to share an underlying degree of quality, grace and • May Khoury won 2nd Place at a refinement which could only surface with time UNESCO Crafts Contest in 2002 and age. Most striking in the gallery, is perhaps the incredibly imaginative incorporation of mixed • One of May Khoury’s chairs is at media in many, if not in most of the pieces. The outcome of subtly blending ethnic fabrics, displayed at the UNESCO museum pottery, metal and wood among others, creates in Paris. unique masterpieces, albeit always sincere to their inherited spirit. • One of her chairs was bought by the iconic fashion designer, Working closely with over 30 talented local artisans, May Khoury is an energetically hands Roberto Cavalli on artist, ensuring that everything she sees in her mind’s eye comes to life exactly as envisioned. Hence, on another note, the continuity of Badr Ad-Duja means a stability of income for over 30 devoted artisans and their families, while preserving creative craftsmanship in the heritage field from one generation to the next. From renowned hotels and VIPs, to newlyweds and art collectors, Badr Ad-Duja daily attracts a wide spectrum of customers and art lovers into its most unconventional and charming gallery. Every corner in Badr Ad-Duja reintroduces the visitor to new visages of long forgotten ancestral treasures. The wonderment of Badr Ad-Duja transpires way beyond its contemporized ethnic arts and crafts; it further comes to light in the manifestation of olden stories told through culture and tradition, harmoniously meshing texture and colour into every piece at display. The wonderment of Badr Ad-Duja is the power of conveying national legacy through modern use of designs. www.badr-adduja.com.jo Best of Jordan 149
    • “Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” -William A. Ward
    • Sports & Leisure CHAPTER ELEVEN
    • His Royal Highness Prince Hamzah Ibn Al-Hussein SPORTS & LEISURE Honorary President; Jordan Basketball Federation (JBF) For the Love of the Game In 1999 HRH Prince Hamzah consented Besides Prince Hamzah’s Honorary Presidency of to become the Honorary President of the the Jordanian Basketball Federation, HRH heads Jordan Basketball Federation (JBF), in the Royal Advisory Committee on the Energy support of Jordan’s ever so popular sport. Sector, and is the President of Al Shajarah (Tree) Since then, HRH has worked vigorously to Foundation. HRH further chairs The Trustees promote the youth of Jordan in general, and Council of the Royal Automobile Museum and basketball in particular in more ways than the Royal Air Sports Club. one. The Jordan Basketball Federation’s eight-year plan aims to elevate basketball - already the Kingdom’s second most popular sport - by substantially increasing the financial resources of 152 Best of Jordan
    • the Federation. An innovative national program, The Dunk Initiative, was launched in December 2001, to engage the private sector through sponsorships and sports marketing vehicles, to provide clubs with support needed to promote the game, and to deliver professional teams competing at the highest international levels. It is Prince Hamzah’s wish and JBF’s plan to spread basketball and enhance its popularity across the country, starting with youth centers. The initial emphasis is on training teachers and coaches of young players, continuing through to university and club levels. The new sources of support also work to improve training and As many accumulative initiatives continue to incentives for the national teams at various unfold, ultimately, under the honorary presidency levels, sponsor local events, and finance of HRH Prince Hamzah, the Jordan Basketball their participation in regional and international Federation is dedicated to the development of events. As specified by Prince Hamzah, all JBF Jordan as a center of excellence in basketball, support is strictly performance-based, with and to evolving the Kingdom into an exciting built-in incentives to motivate individual players, basketball destination for all game enthusiasts in coaches, referees and their clubs. the region. Teams will be able to hire professional, international coaches and benefit from the latest HRH Prince Hamzah Ibn Al Hussein training techniques and improved game strategies that will create Jordan’s first fully professional, • Born in Amman on 29th March 1980 competitive teams. At Prince Hamzah’s directive, non-Jordanian players will also be permitted to • Attended elementary school in Amman join the club teams for the first time, as part of and later studied in Harrow College the developing the sport in Jordan. On the technical United Kingdom. side, amending regulations and improved officiating and coaching will help boost the game. • In December 1999, HRH graduated from the Royal British Military College, The Jordanian Basketball Federation, Sand Hurst, where he received the established in 1957 Mr. Abdullah Abu Sword of Honor; the loftiest appreciation Nawar, became affiliated to the International non-British officers could achieve. He Basketball Federation in that same year of its also won Prince Saud Bin Abdullah’s establishment. Increasingly, basketball in Jordan Award which is granted to non-British continues to attract players and fans of both officers for the best marks in Academic genders and of all ages. In 2003, Basketball/ Jordan was transformed from an amateur to a studies. professional sport, with the mission of including • In the year 2006, HRH graduated from activities necessary for the development of a Harvard University, upon completion of comprehensive national basketball program. Athletes are walked through a comprehensive higher studies. basketball program, and mentored and taught • On August 29, 2003, Prince Hamzah Bin skills of taking charge of their sports careers from early years all the way through to professional Al Hussein married Princess Noor Bint years. The Federation safeguards the interest Asem Bin Nayef. The Royal Couple have of the players and the sport at large, as well one daughter, Princess Haya, born on as working to broaden the game to reach all April 18th, 2007. members of the greater Jordanian community. www.basketball.jo Best of Jordan 153
    • The Jordan Rally SPORTS & LEISURE A Distinctive Car Race in a Unique Landscape The Federation of Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body for world motor sports and the federation of the world’s leading motoring organizations, took a significant decision to include the Jordan Rally into the World Rally Championship rounds in 2008 . This historic choice came as a result of cumulative successful years in organizing the Jordan Rally. More importantly, it signaled the dawn of further success in the coming years. The revving sounds of exhaust were heard in the Watched by nearly one billion people through desert almost in unison, the distinctive harmony extensive television coverage, the three-day of 5400 RPMs of sport cars created a mechanical event was viewed in over 190 countries across over drive. The crowds cheered at the sides six continents. Enthusiasts of motor sports all of the track in anticipation of the cutting-edge over the world watched as cars weaved and automobiles preparing for the starting bell. The turned in the hilly Jordanian deserts, forests, cars were about to embrace the howling desert and the Dead Sea. Yet, the significance of the wind and embark in the recently crowned World event goes beyond garnering international Rally Championship round (WRC) - the Jordan recognition and viewership. Its economic and Rally. The Jordan Rally’s inclusion into the cultural implications cannot be understated. official WRC listing made it the first Arab country The rally’s economic impact injected more than to do so. 30 million dollars into the local economy during the rally week alone, with longer-term benefits The rally is based 50km away from Amman. to be reaped for years to come. To prepare for While the location is sandy, gravel stages the event, heavy investment was poured into were placed around the Dead Sea and Jordan impoverished areas of the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley areas. This is a rally of extremes, from Valley. Currently, the rally routes now connect scorching temperatures - which can top 40 Bedouin communities to main road networks all degrees C - to the awesome desert landscapes year round. which the stages snaked through. Unlike any other event in the WRC rounds, the Jordan As well as a memorable triumph for Jordan, Rally is a unique race in the captivating, sifting it was a personal achievement for HRH landscape of Jordan. The sizable exposure it had Prince Feisal Al Hussein, Chairman of Jordan achieved across the globe lately, comes as no Motorsport, who campaigned tirelessly with the surprise at all. 154 Best of Jordan
    • FIA family to realise the event in Jordan. “It was a wonderful occasion that all of us in Jordan were proud of,” HRH Prince Feisal said. “It was the culmination of 50 years of motor sports being organized since the days when my father King Hussein started it here in the Kingdom.” Although Jordan will be taking a break from the world championship in 2009, it will be back on the calendar again from April 8-10, 2010, to once again witness the world’s very best converging on the sun kissed shores of the Dead Sea for an event to remember. In the meantime, Jordan will host the event that provided the stepping stone to world standards – the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. From October 29-31, 2009, the region’s best will take part in the event which has made an annual jaunt to the Kingdom since 1981. The WRC routes will be used, as will the state-of-art service park and rally HQ to ensure rally fans enjoy their unbroken, annual dose of petrol-fuelled thrills and spills. Some have already started speculating who will win the 2010 rally in Jordan. However, what is undisputable - if history is any indication - is that the next event will be a great success. www.jordanrally.com Best of Jordan 155
    • Dead Sea Ultra Marathon (DSUM) SPORTS & LEISURE Every April, the grounds at the lowest point on Earth reverberate with the sounds of a thousand trampling feet; a testimony to the impending finish of one of the most unique races in the World. The Dead Sea Ultra Marathon (DSUM), one of Jordan’s main sporting events, has become a legacy. Under the patronage of HRH Prince Raad Bin Zeid, the Dead Sea Marathon is an eclectic experience of thousands of people from tens of nationalities, running for a good cause. The DSUM is a scenic trek from the western hills of Jordan down to the Dead Sea, curving and bending on the hills. The event, open for all ages and skill levels, usually gathers an abundance of corporate sponsorship and interest from the public. The DSUM is held annually, every April on the first or second Friday, from Amman to the Dead Sea. It is the main fund raising event for the Society for the Care of Neurological Patients (SCNP), which provides neurological patients with medical aid and covers the costs of necessary surgeries for the needy. The marathon consists of 5 runs: the Ultra Marathon track (48.7Km long) starts from Amman International Motor Show road and ends at the Dead Sea, the Marathon track (42Km long) starts at the Salam gas station and ends at the Dead Sea, the Half Marathon track (21Km long) starts from the Hanna Coffee shop and ends at the Dead Sea, the Fun Run (10km long) begins and ends at the Dead Sea, and, the Junior Marathon run (4.2Km long) also begins and ends at the Dead Sea. 156 Best of Jordan
    • So far, the Society has contributed to the future of the event beyond borders. Above all, the treatment of 940 cases at a value of nearly charitable aspect of the event continues its cause 600.000 JDs. The SCNP is funded by generous through the support of Jordanian organizations donations from individuals, public and private and over 2100 runners representing 48 companies, in addition to annual membership nationalities. fees and proceeds of sports events. The Society anticipates expanding its role in the treatment Participants interested in future marathons may of neurological patients, and becoming a register either by visiting the Society for Care of developmental organization—creating social and Neurological Patients Headquarters in Shemisani technical programs in cooperation with related (open daily from 9:00 am till 2:00 pm), or official and non-official sectors. online via the marathon’s official website (www. deadseamarathon.com). The 20Km trek might Since it started, the DSUM has always maintained seem overwhelming, but the final destination a successful record of accomplishment. The which meets the serene waters of the Dead Sea, participation of several world record runners and the critical funding for neurological patients is and champions, and the 2007 record-breaking well worth the effort. marathon marked a new turning point for the www.deadseamarathon.com Best of Jordan 157
    • Cycling Jordan SPORTS & LEISURE A Ride to the Wild Side At a secluded gas station in the middle of the Jordan Valley, a lonely attendant glances briefly from his newspaper to see the implausible sight of a group in tight bike shorts speeding towards him. He rubs his eye to make sure that the scorching noon sun was not affecting his judgment, but to no avail. The unlikely sight is no mirage. In fact, what he saw was the weekly activity outing of Cycling Jordan, a small group of dedicated bike adventurers. Cycling, for many a natural part of their childhood, usually brings reminiscences of an age of innocence when the two, or three wheeled vehicle was our best friend. But for Cycling Jordan, cycling is not just an afternoon activity or a childhood nostalgic fantasy, it is an exhilarating tool to explore Jordan’s stunning landscapes. Established in the last five years, Cycling Jordan offers an ideal way to immerse in an unforgettable experience in Jordan while sweating a great workout. The expert cycling guides at Cycling Jordan will take you on a journey you will never forget. 158 Best of Jordan
    • The Cycling Jordan experience usually starts and tourists don’t ever see. The excursions also out on a Friday or a Saturday morning before involve thrilling trails along Jordan’s magnificent 9:00am, sometimes at the first glimpse of dawn. ruins from centuries past, including Greco- The organizational outlet, located in Sweifieh, is Roman and Nabataean architectural remnants. the meeting point, registration module, and the staging ground for the start of the club’s rides. The trips are graded for beginners, intermediate, The trip usually commences as the Cycling and advanced levels. Beginner rides are normally Jordan bus pulls out from the parking lot, around 10km on flat road, lasting for approximately pacing along the highway. The fresh air of the one hour. Intermediate rides are for riders with countryside typically takes hold when the bus some previous experience, and last around starts speeding towards its destination. all bikers 20km with a few minor hills. Advanced rides would agree that the mood inside the bus gets cover distances of 35km or more, and require cheery as the sights and sounds of concrete and practiced skill and endurance. In all three levels, pavement are replaced with the more natural only first rate equipment is used, considering sights of plantations, fields, and wild critters. Cycling Jordan’s adamant approach to safety assurances such as helmets among others. The The club takes its members to a variety of trips are always guided by professional guides, locations around the country. From the majestic dedicated to creating a smooth and trouble-free mountains of the north, to the tranquil valleys of experience, rich in its adventure fulfillment to the the central regions, and the shifting deserts of last minute. the south, the destinations never fail to impress. Cycling Jordan’s trails include paths in Mount Beyond cycling, the excursions ultimately turn Nebo, Qatarneh, Jordan Valley, Wasfi Tal Forest, out to be highly sociable affairs. Many friends Wadi Al-Butum, and Madaba. The rides are not return week after week, and some have even simply journeys through the country side, but been regulars for months on end. Cycling Jordan rather an all-encompassing experience that gives attracts outgoing, open-minded, and active the participants a chance to engross themselves people who want to get as much out of their fully in Jordan’s cultural, archeological, and social weekends as possible. The trips usually involve a atmosphere. The riders interact directly with meal (lunch or buffet), and some excursions are the communities of each of the visited areas, occasionally coupled with DJ parties at the club’s giving a first-hand chance to experience the less private farms. All in all, the trips turn out to be a commercialized Jordan that most urban citizens fully Jordanian experience characterized by new exciting destinations on a weekly basis. www.cycling-jordan.com Best of Jordan 159
    • Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC) SPORTS & LEISURE A Regional Center of Excellence The Olympics in China allowed the East The Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC), a group to Jordan’s recognition as a regional sporting Asian, rising superpower to flex its muscles umbrella of more than 34 sports federations, power. on a world stage. Yet, in the sidelines, has the stimulating task of promoting sports in another success story was also being Jordan. Since his election as President of the The role of the JOC goes beyond preparing born. The 2008 Olympics witnessed the JOC in 2003, HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein and mentoring Jordan’s athletes for global participation of seven of Jordan’s most has endeavoured to use sports to engage in sporting events, it also takes a proactive role in talented athletes in Beijing. While in the the lives of youth, not only in the Kingdom, but promoting all sports in Jordan. As part of that Paralympics, Jordan won 2 silvers and across the region. Five years on, Jordan has mission, myriad initiatives have had the dual role 2 bronzes - its best showing ever. The made incredible progress. So much so that it of developing sport leadership and providing majority of those achievements’ credit goes is now widely regarded as one of the leading social responsibility functions. A prominent to the Jordan Olympic Committee, which in National Olympic Committees in Asia, and HRH example of those initiatives is Generations for the past decades had struggled tirelessly to Prince Feisal is recognised as a visionary leader Peace launched in 2007, which aims to use realise Jordan’s sport aspirations. at the cutting edge of sports development. The sport as a vehicle for bringing smiles back to JOC has become a model for administrative the faces of divided communities. Since its 2007 excellence, as it continuously ensures sport plays inaugural, Generations for Peace has become a a greater role in the every day life of Jordanians. serious initiative, widely respected by sporting institutions across the world. A second camp Prior to HRH Prince Feisal’s election, Jordan had in November 2008, welcomed youth leaders yet to host world championships.Today, as well from 16 countries that have been ravaged by as the five which the country has now hosted, internal strife. A third camp was held in Abu the country has also welcomed the prestigious Dhabi featuring 11 countries in March 2009. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) World youth leaders returned to their own communities Conference on Women and Sport. The 2008 to cascade the new skills and techniques gained event was attended by world leading sports through their own camps and projects. To date, figures including the powerful, Jacques Rogge, thousands of youngsters from places like Iraq President of the IOC. All such events pay tribute and Afghanistan, and Southern Sudan have benefited from Generations for Peace. 160 Best of Jordan
    • The JOC have also carried out initiatives to alliances with numerous entities across Jordan, as a committee that proudly sets new sporting promote sports for women. As part of that to ensure that sport plays its role in protecting standards for the region. agenda, the JOC is at the forefront of ensuring and enhancing the world we live in. the treatment of women on an equal footing as men across all sectors in the Arab World. Jordan’s The upcoming year will see the emergence of talented female athletes have been winning new events sponsored by the JOC, and the medals internationally for many years, and are pioneering of new firsts. In 2009, the Kingdom taking a bigger role within the administration hosted Athletics’ biggest winter outdoor event, and organization of sports in Jordan. It is worth the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, noting, that over 50% of JOC’s current staff where, more than 1,000 of the world’s best long comprises of females. distance runners and coaches from 70 countries competed together in Jordan. Furthermore, the JOC also takes an active role in promoting environmentally conscious With accomplishments as such under its belt, initiatives. The committee has formed strategic the JOC looks ahead to an ever-promising future www.joc.jo Best of Jordan 161