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Welcome to ‘Best of Jordan’ General Manager

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4 Best of Jordan
‘Best of Jordan’

Best of Jordan 5





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Best of Jordan 7
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Best of Jordan 9
“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
The Greater Amman Municipality

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

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.

Best of Jordan 15
Jordan Investment Board

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

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
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

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.

Best of Jordan 19
His Majesty King Abdullah II

“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.

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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

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

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

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.


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

26 Best of Jordan

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

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
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.


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

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:

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


Mostly desert plateau in east, highland area in

west; Great Rift Valley separates East and West
Banks of the Jordan River


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,


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

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
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

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

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.

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,
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

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.

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

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
HSBC Jordan

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

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

Best of Jordan 53
Standard Chartered Bank

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
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.
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

Best of Jordan 55
Standard Chartered

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

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

Best of Jordan 57
Jordan Dubai Capital

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,

Best of Jordan 59
Jordan Investment Trust PLC - Jordinvest

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

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.

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
64 Best of Jordan
Best of Jordan 65
United Technology Solutions (UTS)

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 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
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

Best of Jordan 67
Al Tajamouat Group

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

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 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

Best of Jordan 71
“The medium is the message.”
-Marshall McLuhan
Media & Marketing
The International Advertising Association (IAA)

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.

Best of Jordan 77
“The greatest wealth is health.”
-Publius Vergilius Maro
Health & Wellness
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

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.

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.

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

Best of Jordan 87
“The fool wanders, a wise man travels.”
-Thomas Fuller, British Author
Tourism Destinations
The Royal Society for Conservation of Nature (RSCN)

“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

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

International Fund for Animal Welfare

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.

Best of Jordan 93
Jordan Tourism Board (JTB)

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.

Best of Jordan 95

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.


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

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

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

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

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


A World Wonder “One of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”

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

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

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“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

Best of Jordan 105

The Dead Sea

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.

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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

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

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)

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

Best of Jordan 113


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

Best of Jordan 115


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.

Best of Jordan 117

Zikra Initiative

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

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


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.

Best of Jordan 121


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.

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
Amman Film Cooperative (AFC)

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

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-
• The Academy-certified Seagate-
Foyle International Film Festival-
Northern Ireland
• The Academy-certified Locarno
International Film Festival-

Other regional film festivals have


• The Dubai International Film Festival

• The Ismailia Film Festival
• The Tangier Film Festival
• The Carthage Film Festival
• The Dubai Film Festival

Best of Jordan 127

The Royal Film Commission - Jordan (RFC)

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,

Best of Jordan 129

The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA)

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.

Best of Jordan 131

Captain Abu-Raed

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,

Best of Jordan 133

“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.”
-Stella Adler
Suzanne Abu Jaber

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

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 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

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

Best of Jordan 139

Omar Al Abdallat

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

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
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

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

Best of Jordan 143

Tareq Al Nasser and Rum Group

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
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

“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.

Best of Jordan 145

Anees Maani

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

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

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.

Best of Jordan 149

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”
-William A. Ward
Sports & Leisure
His Royal Highness Prince Hamzah Ibn Al-Hussein

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.
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.

Best of Jordan 153

The Jordan Rally

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

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.

Best of Jordan 155

Dead Sea Ultra Marathon (DSUM)

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. 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

Best of Jordan 157

Cycling Jordan

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

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.

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Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC)

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

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