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Villes, pratiques urbaines et construction nationale en Jordanie

 | 
Myriam Ababsa
, 
Rami Farouk Daher

Introduction / Prélude

Prelude. Understanding Cultural Changeand Urban Transformations: Qualifying Amman: The City of Many Hats

Changement culturel et transformations urbaines à Amman : la ville aux nombreux chapeaux

Rami Farouk Daher

Résumé

Depuis sa refondation à la fin du xixe siècle, Amman a traversé plusieurs périodes de transformation urbaine et culturelle dont la dernière est la création de quartiers résidentiels fermés haut de gamme (gated communities) et de tours d’affaires. Une succession de «  saynètes  » ou de récits permet à l’auteur de brosser un portrait sensible d’Amman et de rendre hommage au livre de Jean Hannoyer et Seteney Shami, Amman, ville et société, paru en 1996 à Beyrouth, aux presses du Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche sur le Moyen-Orient contemporain (devenu Ifpo en 2003).

Le premier niveau de récit vise à rendre hommage à une ville non conventionnelle, dont l’identité et la contribution à la construction nationale font débat. Le premier paradoxe est que les habitants d’Amman ne se disent pas attachés à cette ville, faisant plus volontiers référence à leur village ou leur ville d’origine. Ainsi la réponse «  je suis d’Amman  » à la question «  d’où êtes‑vous  » n’est jamais acceptée comme valide. Le discours hégémonique dénie à Amman une identité propre. Selon Seteney Shami, c’est parce que les habitants d’Amman construisent leur identité en référence à une multiplicité de villes, jouent avec leurs identités multiples et que, de façon plus structurelle, l’économie de la ville dépend d’un État rentier et non de ses propres ressources financières et industrielles. En conséquence, Amman n’apparaît pas dans la géographie des lieux majeurs du patrimoine national que sont Pétra, Wadi Rum et la steppe (badiya) des bédouins. De plus, Amman ne correspond pas à l’image classique de la «  ville orientale  » construite depuis plus de deux siècles par les voyageurs et les savants, à la différence du Caire ou de Jérusalem. En conséquence, ses éléments patrimoniaux majeurs qu’étaient le souk al‑Bukhariah, la fontaine hamidiya et de nombreux cafés ont été simplement détruits au nom de la modernité et du progrès, parce que leur signification réelle n’a pas été reconnue.

Le deuxième récit porte sur la mixité sociale et l’urbanité. Amman est une ville «  aux nombreux chapeaux  », c’est-à-dire qu’au tournant du xxe siècle, chaque groupe de migrants était reconnaissable à son couvre-chef  : le kalbaq circassien, le tarbouche libano-syrien, le hatta ou kefieh palestinien et jordanien. Leurs premières maisons étaient modestes mais élégantes, de un ou deux niveaux, autour d’une pièce centrale. L’arrivée du chemin de fer à Amman en 1905 avec la gare du Hedjaz sur la voie du pèlerinage a été un élément d’essor essentiel à la ville, la mettant sur la carte régionale du Moyen-Orient, mais reliant aussi la ville aux autres villes jordaniennes d’Irbid, Kerak et Maan.

Le troisième temps de cette narration porte sur la modernité introduite dans la ville par les écoles, les cinémas, les théâtres et les cafés au cours des années 1920, quand Amman fut désignée comme capitale. Puis à partir des années 1950 par l’originalité d’architectes qui surent faire évoluer le modèle de la maison aux trois arches de façon dissymétrique et dynamique. Les nouvelles villas construites le long de la rue de Zahran au cours des années 1950, entre le deuxième et le troisième cercle, ont l’habileté de se réserver une avant-cour sur la rue, bordée d’une simple barrière de béton ajouré en clostra, qui permet aux passants de voir la maison et aux résidents de profiter d’une vue sur la rue.

La restructuration urbaine néolibérale rompt toute cette harmonie proprement «  ammanî  ». Des panneaux publicitaires géants entourent les chantiers d’Abdali et des tours Porte de Jordanie, invitant les passants à consommer, valeur ultime de notre société. Des intellectuels et des activistes essaient de résister. La municipalité d’Amman a entrepris de créer des espaces piétons conçus comme des espaces anti-centres commerciaux. Des artistes et des activistes culturels ont créé des lieux comme Darat al‑Funun, Makan, Dar al‑Anda, le théâtre al-Balad. Des associations d’habitants sont nées à Jabal Amman (JARA) et à Jabal al-Weibdeh, créant des marchés du vendredi très appréciés. Plusieurs institutions tentent de revitaliser le centre ancien du premier cercle et de Jabal al-Weibdeh : la Commission Royale du Film, la Société Royale de Préservation de la Nature, l’association des écrivains, Dar al‑Anda, etc…

Mais alors qu’Amman était connue pour sa capacité d’accueil et d’intégration de la diversité de ses habitants, la tendance dominante est désormais à l’exclusion, et les initiatives prises par la mairie ou les intellectuels pour relier l’est et l’ouest d’Amman en deviennent insignifiantes. «  Mais c’est pourtant à tous ceux qui tentent sincèrement de faire la différence que ce texte est dédiée  ».

Texte intégral

1Amman underwent recently, and during the past two decades, major urban restructuring and transformations in the form of exclusive business towers and high-end gated residential communities. Yet, this was not the only period of change and urban transformation that this young and understudied city had undergone since its re-emergence in the middle of the 19th century. The attempt of this introduction is to understand urban and cultural transformations and their effect on socio-economic and cultural milieus. This notion of understanding cultural change will be presented in a progression of narratives (or scenes) from the City.

2If there is a world prize for the city most transformed in the shortest period of time, then definitely Amman would have taken the lead. Furthermore, and compared to its other sister cities in the Arab World such as Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Baghdad, or Beirut, Amman is a City that is understudied and is in need for more research and documentation. The year 1996 was instrumental in terms of the publication of one of the first edited research volumes on the City which was Hannoyer & Shami’s edited book on Amman entitled: Amman: City & Society (Hannoyer & Shami 1996). It represented one rare event attempting to relocate the City and to address its specificity. This introduction and this book as well are a tribute to a unique Jordanian anthropologist Seteney Shami who had been a pioneer not only in writing about the City Amman but also in initiating genuine anthropological research about its different veracities. This introduction is also a golden opportunity to grant voice and to qualify this City which is in need of more research but also of more understanding to arrive at its hidden, yet distinctive realities.

3This introduction thrives to embark on a gruesome task, and that is to contextualize Amman for the reader and situate its specific genealogy and multi-layered beginnings in temporal and spatial contexts. Understanding cultural change and urban transformation in Amman will be presented in a progression of narratives (or scenes) from the City that attempt to unravel its genealogy and multi-layered beginnings, value its unique spatiality, realize transformations towards the middle of the 20th century, and also explicate its most current urban restructuring under neoliberal tropes.

Narrative (scene 1) : Granting Voice to an Unconventional City

4In this first narrative on Amman, I attempt to realize its specific genealogy and multi-layered beginnings. I make an effort to understand why Amman’s urban beginnings and past existed as a marginalized reality that has not been celebrated and recognized by formal State practices and was even excluded from Orientalist/academic definitions of Islamic Arab Cities of the Region. This introductory narrative on the City attempts to provide some explanations of whether or not Amman suffers from crises of identity and also attempts to answer why the “state” had not, and until very recently, incorporated the urban reality and heritage of the city in its formal definition of the country of Jordan or as a subject of interest for nation building.

5Amman for some people is no more than a new city that offers a comfortable way of life. But for many, Amman tends to represent a rich reservoir of personal and collective memories, where the social memory of place, represented in its streets, alleys, steps, and courtyards, is more than a topic of discussion at gatherings and becomes, instead, a “lived” experience and a true anchor to place providing symbols of belonging. Yet, also for many, Amman is a place that suffers from a lack of urban identity and a place to which some residents of the City have a weak sense of belonging to. As a child who was born and had lived in Amman for most of his life, I was always, like many others, confronted with the question : “Where are you from ?” And my immediate answer was always : “I am from Amman”. But my simple answer had never been, in most of the cases, satisfactory enough and was always followed by a follow up question : “No, really, where are you from ?” This used to bother me as a child and teenager and I always wondered as to why if my answer were that I was from Salt, or Irbid, or even from any other Jordanian city then it would have been satisfactory enough, and I used to wonder as to why Amman was not acknowledged as a city where people could claim their origins to. Jawad Anani had explained in one of the local Jordanian newspapers how if one would ask any student of any local school in the City of Amman about their origin, the majority of students would answer back that they are from a city or a town other than Amman even if they were born in Amman and had spent their whole lives in the City (Anani 1992, p. 4). Seteney Shami, in questioning why the overall consciousness, the set of meanings, the hegemonic urban discourse concerning Amman is one of that negates its identity as a city, suggested that “the answer partly lies in the ways that Amman’s inhabitants construct their identities through references to a multiplicity of cities as well as to alternative identities that work against consolidating an Ammani identity” (Shami 2007, p. 209). And furthermore, she goes on to suggest certain justifications or reasons for what she terms the Ammani laments :

It would appear at first that there are quite easy answers to Ammani laments, and these are readily offered up by many of its inhabitants. First of all, Amman is a recent city. It was re-founded, after some centuries of de-population, as a frontier settlement of the Ottoman state in the late 19th century. Secondly, its population has been formed by numerous waves of displacement and refugee movements. Thirdly, its economy is largely dependent on the fortunes of a rentier state rather than on industry or global financial flows. Finally, Amman has experienced continuous and rapid physical expansion, such that its urban fabric is “more of a construction site than a city” (Shami 2007, p. 213).

Amman : The City (in) Between Discursive Practices : Official/State & Orientalist/Academic

6In attempting to answer the previous question, I thrive to understand why Amman’s urban beginnings and past existed as a marginalized reality that has not been celebrated and recognized by formal State practices and was even excluded from the Oreintalist/academic definitions of Islamic and Arab Cities of the Region (Daher 2008). The aim would be not only to expose and reveal the latent nature of domination, but also to show the extent to which power mechanisms and relations are present in institutions, regulations and discursive practices. In order to understand the genealogy of such a City, one needs to understand and research moments of transformation and rarity that the region of the Middle East witnessed over the past couple of centuries such as the destruction and replacement of the dynastic religious realm (represented by the Ottoman Empire) with the various post-mandate nation states of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and many several other nation states during the first half of the 20th century, and to understand and research the consequences of such moments and transformations on the definition and practice of nationhood, citizenship, and heritage (Anderson 1989).

7In general, the definition of the region’s heritage and the sites, through which the different newly emerging states were defining themselves, were confined to the classical, religious and ancient monuments (e.g., Pharaonic in Egypt, Nabataean in Jordan, Phoenician in Lebanon) during mandate and early statehood period in the first half of the 20th century. Meanwhile, and according to Maffi (2002, 210-11), and Schriwer (2002) who had worked extensively on Jordan, the heritage of the recent past (manifested by its rural, urban traditions) was marginalized by official state discourses that attempted to disassociate from the recent Ottoman past and local realities and instead to construct legitimacy for the different new emerging state systems by constructing links with distant origins. Maffi (2000, 7) highlights one example that explicates the Jordanian/Hashemite fascination and obsession with ancient Nabataean civilizations that operated in a geographic territory similar to today’s Modern Jordan.

8Amman’s urban heritage in particular and the City as a totality in general (with some iconic exceptions such as the Roman Theatre or the Citadel) were kept outside the official national definition of national heritage which was grounded in a disassociation from the recent past and a constructed definition of what Jordan is. Nature sites such as Wadi Rum or the Steppe (Badiya) and archaeological sites that link the country to an imagined point of departure (Nabataean Site of Petra) were key “sites” of constructing a formal Jordanian identity. Urban realities such as that of Amman fell out of this formal definition of what Jordan is. In his chapter had elaborated how official Jordanian identity is antithetical to Amman and to its urban realities and how instead “tribalization” dominated national Jordanian identity.

9In addition, the Jordanian State, which was not a very resourceful and rich Emirate at the beginning, created its legitimacy through events and parades (e.g., the public speeches and parades that used to take place in Faisal Plaza in the 1920s and early 30s) in the open public space rather than through association with certain existing places or a formal program of public buildings. Eugen Rogan had stated that :

beyond the handful of functional buildings commissioned by the British authorities, and the three landmarks of the “Umari Mosque, Raghadan Palace, and the Residency, or Dar alMu’tamid, neither the Hashemite nor the British enjoyed the resources to impose their authority on Amman through building projects – no elaborate house of parliament, court of justice, or institution of higher education. Rather than seeking to project the state’s power through architecture, the ruling authorities used Amman as a stage on which they enacted elaborate spectacles of ceremonial intended to reaffirm both elements of the colonial state : British trusteeship and Hashemite rule” (Rogan 1996, p. 103).

10The urban heritage of Amman dating to the first half of the 20th century was discredited by Orientalist/academic discourses and practices that disqualified it and rendered it as insignificant and marginal. First, Amman as a city in general, and its urban heritage in particular had to conform to the stereotypical models of what an “Islamic” or “Arab” city should look like. The Orientalist discourse has constructed models and typologies of the ‘Islamic’ or ‘Arab’ City, which had been adopted and perpetuated by some contemporary academic discourses as well. Such stereotypical and typological images work to discredit a certain reality that does not fit such criteria and models. Consequently, the application of such models on a more controversial city like Amman (which is understudied in the first place in comparison to other cities that more or less fit the stereotypical model), a city of a more recent origin grounded in multi-racial points of origins in the 19th century, becomes very problematic, specially when such cities are compared and contrasted with others like Damascus, Cairo or Jerusalem that more or less fit the constructed model.

11One of the early scholars that criticized and censured the stereotypical and monolithic model which was based on a body of literature produced by western Orientalists was the renowned scholar Janet Abu-Lughod (1987, 155). According to Janet Abu-Lughod, such generalizations were built on limited examples, mainly Fez in North Africa and Damascus and Aleppo in Bilad al‑Sham :

In short, just as we find the first isnad to be based chiefly on French North African sources/studies, particularly focusing on the city of Fez, so we find a second isnad based upon the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Damascus, as studied physically by Sauvaget and socio-politically by Lapidus. In each case, a very tentative set of place-specific comments and descriptions appears. These enter the literature and take on the quality of abstractions. With each telling, the tale of authority grows broader in its application. Forgotten is the fact that only a handful of cities are actually described. Forgotten is the fact that only certain legal code s - on which the Islamic form of city is presumed to be based - have been studied. Forgotten is the fact that Islamic cities have evolved over time and that the socio-political system in Damascus and Aleppo in the 14th century under Mamluk rule cannot possibly provide a convincing description of how Islamic cities sui generis were governed” (Abu-Lughod 1987, p. 160).

12What was very valuable about Abu-Lughod’s attempt to deconstruct Orientalist thinking about the Islamic city (1987, 172) is the fact that she had illustrated that “not only that the idea itself was “created” on the basis of too few cases but, even worse, was a model of outcomes rather than one of process.” Dietrich (2002) had elaborated this model of outcomes : the stereotypical Islamic and Arab urban features such as the congressional mosque, covered bazaars, public paths, numerous Waqfs, and homogeneous organic residential neighborhoods, of which Amman was compared to, worked to subjugate and marginalize Amman’s distinctive urban features such as its Husseini Mosque, specialty bazaars (e.g., Souq al‑Bukhariah), cemetery at Ras alAin, water sabils (such as the Hamidian Sabil that existed in front of the Husseini Mosque), and coffee houses (such as numerous coffee houses around the main congressional mosque and in Faisal Street). Many of such features were demolished in the name of Modernity and Progress or because of their uncritical evaluation as obsolete and insignificant.

13Many years later after colonization was over in the Middle East around the middle of the 20th century, and nation states emerged in a grand attempt to forge national identities and images for each of these states, it is ironic that the same Orientalists and colonial discourses perpetuate (Daher 2007). One only has to look at any tourism brochure or poster, or watch any promotional video that defines and promotes each of the countries within the Middle East to find out that practices of governments in the region through their ministries of tourism work to define the region mainly through its classical traditions marginalizing local regional realities of the recent past in particular. One example is Jordan Tourism Board’s brochures where sites like Petra and Jerash are still the highlights of any tourism plan coming to Jordan ; very little attention and only recently is directed to promoting Jordan’s more recent heritage realities such as agricultural villages in the north, the vernacular, and urban and social heritage of various Jordanian towns such as Salt or Amman. Publications of the Jordan Tourism Board such as the Map of Jordan (JTB 1998), or the Visitors’ Guide : Welcome to Jordan (JTB 2000) highlight primarily Jordan antiquities sites (such as Petra, Jerash, Byzantine Churches of Madaba, the Umayyad Desert Castles) and Jordan significant nature attractions (such as Wadi Rum and Dana nature reserves, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Dead Sea). This perpetuation of Orientalist discourses still continues in the practices of even most recent museum designs in Amman. It is only surprising that after all of these years, and in 2009, still, the newly established Jordan Museum uses an emblem on its windows that depicts Petra and Jerash, one only wonders as to when will Amman and other cities in Jordan be the focus of such endeavors.

Amman : The City of Many Hats

  • 1 Refer to the details of the Exhibition “Amman Narrated (Amman Inhakat) which was authored by Rami D (...)

14I would like to attempt to answer this complicated question related to the existence (or not) of crises of identity related to this specific City Amman. We have established earlier that Amman received through the years several waves of voluntary and compulsory migrations. Amman was conceived as a place that offered the newcomers a new golden opportunity for resettlement, work, and progress. It acted as a refuge for several newcomers who flocked to Amman for diverse reasons, each with his or her distinctive head dress, symbolizing the diversity of these early migrants1. Amman constituted, literally, the City of new opportunities in the region. Some came as merchants, others as rebels fleeing occupation, others as administrative staff to work and be enrolled in this new system (Emirate of East Jordan), others came as refugees (such as the Palestinian refugees after the 1948 and 1967 wars and after the occupation of Palestine), and some as returnees (such as many Jordanians and Palestinians after the Gulf War). They all saw in Amman a safe haven for settlement and resettlement.

15This multi-layered beginning also granted Amman a special character where it emerged as a beacon of tolerance and peaceful co-existence between groups of different religious, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. A common scene in downtown Amman’s Faisal Street during the 1930s would be diverse men with different head covers (e.g., the Circassian Kalbaq, the Lebanese & Syrian Tarbooush, the Palestinian and Jordanian Hatta or Kofiah) climbing Amman’s steps to get to the residences on the slopes of the seven mountains flanking the downtown.

Narrative (scene 2) : Social Mixity and a more Inclusive Urbanity. Understanding Amman’s Specifity and Unique Spatiality

Early Urban Form : Markers in the Landscape and an Inclusive Urbanity

  • 2 Refer to the study conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultants entitled: Consultan (...)

16The open terrains and the different mountains of the City were like an open field for these newcomers and migrants from diverse locations in the region. It is important to understand that these new comers (migrants with urban traditions) had humble means for building their own houses and also for initiating urban growth in the City. Furthermore, the Hashemite State (and during its early years of creation and inception) was not a very resourceful state and had to rely on a group of actors and agents (wealthier merchants and migrants) in forming the basis for a unique urban fabric in the City. Therefore, early urban public additions took the form of markers in the landscape (as there was very little in terms of urban fabric around) situated in the open fields2. These markers included schools (governmental and private), water towers, official buildings (very few), hospitals, and other public amenities. Hacker researched early urban growth of the City and wrote on Amman as early as 1960 :

17then came Hussein College, a higher secondary school for boys in a commanding position in Jabal al-Hussein. Behind it stood the trade school and the new Men’s Teachers’ Training College. A secondary school for girls was built in a less commanding position on Jabal Amman. The Ministry of Health building with the government laboratory, and the new Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Finance were built along Salt Street, the main thoroughfare leading to the northwest and west. Further out in the same direction, on the town periphery, lay the new Ministry of Defense building along side the Abdali camp to which the Amman H.Q. of the Arab Legion (now the Jordan National Army) were transferred. On the south side of the town, high up on Jabal Ashrafiya rose up the Surgical Hospital and the Blood Bank, the T.B. Hospital and a school for nurses, building completed about 1955” (Hacker 1960, p. 41).

  • 3 Sharq al‑Arabi Newspaper, Issue 165, Thursday, September 11, 1927.

18Amman started to climb its different hills with residential expansions especially after the earthquake of 1927. Governmental employees were encouraged by the government to build houses in the new “Jabals” such as in Jabal al‑Weibdeh and Jabal Amman (Abu Dayyeh 2006). The name for Jabal Amman was first Jabal Amman Jadid (the new Amman), it was similar to forming a new city next to the old one in the wadis. After the earthquake, the Municipality conducted several surveys to assess the level of the damage and concluded that it is important to start encouraging residents of the city to start building mainly with stones and concrete and abort the use of dried bricks (which was popular as a building material with some Circassian and other peasants). Builders and owners were also encouraged to use only refined stone on facades fronting main city streets3. It is very obvious that the building techniques and approach to architecture in Amman after the earthquake of 1927 worked to change the image of the City and was one of the reasons for its expansion on the residential hills.

19A distinctive Ammani modernity narrative was the proliferation of a more inclusive urban setting towards the middle of the 20th century. Jabal al‑Weibdeh is where different families of various religious and social backgrounds and ethnic origins lived next to each other and formulated social relationships. Furthermore, the urban setting and fabric facilitated the accommodating of various types of residences in terms of social status and affordability. Even the Ammani more elaborate houses had a certain economy, simplicity, and humility associated with them. This created a more inclusive urban environment in the City. The heart of the City was Faisal Plaza (Sahet Faisal). The Steps of Amman were the earlier communal urban spaces in the City, they defined neighborhood limits and provided diverse access to the downtown area. These Steps enjoyed mainly residential but also some commercial activities. As important Ammani places of sociability, they stitched the downtown with the residential hills.

20Unfortunately, the multi-layered beginnings of the City had not been fully, or even partially, narrated yet. The City is definitely understudied and there is a crucial need for more critical analysis of its diverse and more intriguing evolution. Furthermore, the inherent and distinctive qualities of Amman’s urban heritage have only been recently explored and incorporated into formal state projects of nation building and public space provision. Amman’s distinctive urban realities are present in places like the Hawooz in the residential hills, the urban experience of Faisal Street, the Central Hallway (3‑Bay System) Ammani detached single family dwelling of the 1920s and 30s, the elegant (yet not pretentious) houses and villas of the modern period in the 1940s and 50s – with their brilliant modernist logic, aesthetics, and dynamism – the pedestrian steps that connect the downtown area to the surrounding residential mountains with their distinctive ambiance and experience, or the Ammani public places of sociability such as different coffee houses. One needs to understand Amman and its urban and social heritage. It is different from any other in the region in the way that it is grand yet unstated ; elegant, yet unpretentious ; efficient and economic, yet graceful ; and memorable, yet non-monumental.

Amman at the Heart of a Regional Mobility of a Different Flavor

21One important milestone in the development of the City was the arrival of the Hijaz Railroad Line to the City at the turn of the 20th century. This main grand infrastructure, not only facilitated the transportation of pilgrims from northern areas to the Hijaz, but also brought with it ideas, soldiers, merchants, and progress to the city (Ochsenwald 1980). It can be easily said that the Hijaz Railroad Line (which reached the City in 1903) put Amman on the regional map. Until proper roads connected Amman with other Jordanian cities, the train was the only option for travel, mainly south to Kerak and Ma’an.

22The Hijaz Railroad Line represents an important moment of transformation and rarity within the region Bilad al‑Sham. The inception of the Hijaz Railroad Line on the Darb al‑Hajj al‑Shami should be viewed as a realization of the Hamidian critical approach with significant socio-economic, religious, spatial and political manifestations. The Hijaz Railroad Line Project could be considered as the embodiment of the Hamidian ideological/procedural method to counteract and challenge Western forms of domination and imperialism, especially manifested in his rejection of foreign (British and French) aid to help construct the railroad and depended mainly on local Muslim resources from all over the Islamic World at that time (Daher 2000). The Project represented, together with other infrastructure projects, a moment of transformation and rarity for the Ottoman State where its legitimacy construction was tied up to a serious agenda of public works and development projects in the region of Bilad al‑Sham.

  • 4 These observations were based on fieldwork conducted in Amman, Beirut, and Damascus by the author b (...)

23Later on and towards the early 1920s, Faisal Plaza was also considered the place that connected the City with other urban centers in the region like Damascus, Beirut, and Jerusalem. Faisal (Sahet Faisal) together with other similar places like Sahet al‑Marje in Damascus or Martyrs Square in Beirut, used to be the place of connection between cities within the region of Bilad al‑Sham. Not only that these places had a lot in common (hosting transportation hubs from where one could take the car to Damascus, Beirut, Amman, or Jerusalem) but also these places housed a lot of hotels and café’s signaling an active relationship and mobility within the region in the middle of the 20th century4. Waiting for the Buses of Taballat Company which took travelers from Amman to Palestinian towns was a common scene near Faisal. These different places not only qualified the concept of Bilad al‑Sham at the local level but also provided the medium for sharing ideas, migrants, political beliefs, and commercial goods within the region.

Narrative (scene 3) : Amman Embracing Modernity. Schools, Cinemas, Cafes and Agendas of Public Works

Modernity as a Tool for City Formation and State Building

  • 5 By Modernity, this article refers to a period of cultural change that affected Europe at the turn o (...)

24Many accuse Amman of being a city with no “history” or “soul” mainly because of its recent re-emergence on the world scene only some 150 years ago. Yet, a more critical and exploratory look at the City and its different periods of change and transformation leads the passionate researcher to conclude that Amman, even though young at heart, is a city with temporal depth that had gone through the motions of change from a small village, to a town, and then to the capital of the nation. A significant part of Amman’s heritage that relates to this transformation is its heritage of Modernity5. This article is concerned with Amman’s vanishing heritage of Modernity that prevailed in the middle of the 20th century manifested through Amman’s Modernity architecture, cinema houses, schools, hotels, social housing, social outings, boulevards, cafés, and intellectual crowd. In fact, and up to the 1970s, the most common form of housing was social housing targeting professionals and the middle class such as community of teachers, engineers, doctors, employees of Royal Jordanian, to mention a few. Unfortunately, Amman’s growing consumer and uncritical society lacks a genuine appreciation of its heritage of Modernity due in certain cases to being unconscious of its value and significance, and in other cases to the dominance of the dollar on people’s value systems. This is leading to the destruction and the disfiguring of this valuable Ammani heritage which represents a true testimonial to its temporal depth and to its many periods of transformation and change.

  • 6 Refer to the detailed study and project conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultant (...)

25The vision of the Late King Abdullah upon his arrival to Amman in the early 1920s visualized a modern City with a rich past. Faisal Square was a starting point as the City’s public space par-excellence. As early as the 1930s, Faisal was puzzling with modern affandiah wearing the tarboush and frequenting Faisal’s several hotels like King Ghazi, the Arab League, and al‑Qahira, or even buying fabrics from its various merchants in Souq Mango. Faisal was one of Amman’s early signs of a town gradually being transformed into a City, or better yet, a City entering Modernity. Faisal gradually became Amman’s beating heart and intellectual hub famous for its different cafés and political salons like al‑Maqha al‑Dara (political salon) of Wasfi Merza Pasha (now Balat al‑Rashid Café) and like Central or the Arab League café. Faisal for Jordan exemplified in one single urban space the process of city formation and State building. Not only that it was a place of political interface where the “State,” represented by its Emir, met with the different populace of the City, but it was also an arrival point, a terminus for travelers coming to Amman from Jerusalem, Beirut, or Damascus by car. Faisal was Amman’s beating heart and its one-way ticket to entering Modernity6.

26It is true that Amman is not your typical Arab/Islamic city, but it is one that had definitely gone through the motions. As early as the 1930s, Amman had its own Electricity Hanger by Ras al‑Ain which started to generate power to its lamp posts in the streets, provided its homes with electricity and lighted the neon advertisement signs on top of its buildings in Faisal Street. Early on, Amman enjoyed several cinema houses such as Petra which hosted social events, famous Arab singers and politicians, and even its own special matinee shows for ladies (Dieterich 2003). Later on and towards the second half of the 20th century, the downtown area was blessed with several other Cinema houses such as Raghadan, Bassman, and al‑Hussein. Al-Hussein Cinema and Theater behind the Arab Bank adorned the City Center with its Art-Deco style and glamour.

  • 7 Oral history reports document the perseverance and persisting vision of the founders of the Islamic (...)
  • 8 A beauty pageant was held in Philadelphia hotel before the middle of the 20th Century. Now, if we p (...)

27Private and governmental schools emerged on each of the residential mountains in Amman. The Islamic Scientific College and Zain al‑Sharaf on Jabal Amman, al-Hussein College on Jabal al‑Hussein, and Terra Santa on Jabal Weibdeh, to mention a few, where some of these second generation schools. The inspection of each of these schools is a story of persisting modernist vision, critical thinking and a strong sense of belonging to this emerging new City in the region7. Amman also enjoyed a splendid Sport City (al-Hussein Sport City) as early as the 1960s with its modernist logic in design challenging the plastic and aesthetic characteristics of concrete and symbolizing one of the key pillars of Modernity in the City. Entertainment and social gatherings in Amman’s early hotels like the late Philadelphia8 near the Roman Amphitheatre is only a humble testimonial to an active public life and the various local magazines printed in the City as early as the mid 1930s such as al-Raed and al-Urdun al‑Jadid represent another testimonial of an active public sphere in this vibrant and vivacious, and yet non-pretentious City.

Domesticating Modernity : Ammani’s Architects of the 1950s Breaking the Traditional Box

  • 9 Refer to the study conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultants entitled: Consultan (...)

28Towards the second half of the 20th century, Ammanis transformed the traditional 3-bay system house into a dynamic composition that is asymmetrical and vibrant. The influence and the vision of returning architects from Europe and the US was merged with the local traditions of the masons and the art of building to produce a domesticated modernity, Ammani style ; and the result was a special Ammani version of Modernity Architecture that is very dynamic in composition, provided new ratios of solid and void with more void being afforded in the buildings elevations, and demonstrated a vibrant and dynamic composition that is based on a volumetric interplay between horizontal and vertical volumes. The profession of architecture was gradually being influenced by the returning architects rather than by traditional masons who played a much more significant role in earlier decades (1920-30). Examples of such villas are numerous along Amman’s modern arteries of expansion such as Zahran Corridor stretching north-west on Jabal Amman and on Sharia’a Street on Jabal al-Weibdeh9.

Schools, Cinemas, and Coffee Houses

29Amman is not a City famous for its grand public spaces. Yet, the early City narratives identify with creative adaptation to this, some how, humble and economic setting. Early public spaces included cafes, smaller “Hawooz” (water towers) (such as Hawooz Jabal Amman), gardens and parks (Muntazah) (such as Muntazah Jabal al‑Weibdeh), but also included urban orchards and the corner shops.

  • 10 Based on research conducted by the author between 2006-7 in the downtown area and specially in Fais (...)

30The downtown area at Faisal was the hearth of an active public sphere represented by the formation of several hotels, books and magazines shops, and cafés such as The Arab League Café, Hamdan, Central, Balat al‑Rashid, and Shalati to mention a few. Politicians, poets, novelists, journalists and other significant figures formed the nucleus of an active Ammani public sphere. Faisal was the place of contact of both popular and official discourses. Old books and magazines shops such as the one owned by Fahmi al‑Za’eem, but later on such as Abu Shanab, Ozaizeiah, Istiklal, Bustami, Koshk Abu Ali, and Khasanet al‑Jahez, were important points of departure within Faisal Street. At the end of the day, it was these ordinary urban dwellers and individuals who granted meaning to places within Amman. Unfortunately, the multi-layered beginnings of the City had not been fully, or even partially, narrated yet. The City is definitely understudied and there is a crucial need for more critical analysis of its diverse and more intriguing evolution. Amman needs to celebrate its multi-layered beginnings by granting voice to the role of such unique urban individuals and urban merchants and their respective shops10.

  • 11 Refer to the detailed study and project conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultant (...)

31The story of Amman early cinemas is a story of a city entering modernity with new emerging public spaces of sociability and entertainment. One of the first move theatres in Amman (al-Sharq al‑Arabi), owned by Rushdi al‑Safadi, appeared in 1925 and was screening films in open air. The first movie theatre (Cinema Nasr or Cinema Abu Sayyah) was built by the Damascene Abu Sayyah al‑Qabani in 1929. It was locaed in Petra Street behind the Husseini Mosque and was powered by a generator. There was a special person blowing his horn to call people to watch the silent movies of Charlie Chaplin or other cowboy movie11.

32The first real grand movie theatre was founded by two business men (Wadi As’ad and Tawfiq Qattan) in 1934 and was called Cinema Petra (Dieterich 2003) located near al‑Husseini Mosque in downtown Amman. Petra was a place of public gatherings and amusements, it emerged as one of the central places of public gathering and emergence of public sphere in the City where films from the sound era were and Arabic Classic movies were showed (e.g., movies by giants such as Yousef Wahbi, Leila Murad, and Abdel Wahab), cultural and political conventions, musicals by famous Arab singers took place there in addition to also local and school plays (e.g., in 1941, young men from Amman performed the Arab play “Fath al‑Andalus” (the conquest of al‑Andalusia) written by Fua’d al‑Khatib). The first Arab movie with sound to be shown at Petra was “Onshodat al‑Fuad” by the singer Naderah was screened in Petra (Dieterich 2003).

33The emergence of movie theatres like Petra was a sign of Amman entering modernity. Another element of Cinema Petra’s modernizing force was the fact that it was also open to the females twice a week. Later on in Amman, other Cinemas emerged in the downtown area such as al-Khayyam (established by Abdelrazaq al‑Fayoumi in 1949 and later sold to the Abu Khoura family in 1953), and Zahran which opened in the early 1950s. Zahran opening day screened the Arabic classic “Lahn al‑Kholod” by Fareed al‑Atrash. Other cinema houses emerged in the 1960 such as Studio al‑Urdon, Bassman, Raghadan, and al-Hussein. Al-Hussein Cinema was designed by the renowned Egyptian architect Sayed Krayyem. This jewel of Modernity architecture with its Art Deco Style, beautiful ceramics, and exquisite spiral staircase is one of Amman’s icons of Modernity that is very significant to its social and architectural memory ; it was named by the local people “al-Fakhma” (the Grand One).

  • 12 Please refer to the Amman Cinema Archives (special collection of Rami Daher).

34The movie theatres in Amman symbolized the advent of a modern institution in a traditional surrounding and contributed to social change in the Ammani community12.

Conserving Amman’s Modernity

35Today, we are witnessing the celebration of the City Amman. This is evident in the works of its artists and architects, novelists (e.g., Gharaibeh with his Shahbandar, the late Qasem and his brilliant piece of literature Abna al‑Qal’a, others), emerging neighborhood associations (e.g., Jabal Amman Residents Association, Friends of Jabal Weibdeh’s Association), urban activists (e.g., Makan, and Ruwwad al‑Tanmiyeh), philanthropists (e.g., Khaled Shouman Foundation, Mamdouh Besharat, Aramex, other), and also the City’s body of governance (e.g. Amman Greater Municipality).

36Yet, this all is not enough, an alarming reality is being missed by Amman’s emerging urban creative class and that is the City’s disappearing heritage of Modernity. The City is gradually loosing its legacy of Modernity represented through buildings, houses, open spaces, and life style. This is due to several reasons among which is the lack of appreciation of the City’s heritage, the lack of protective laws and regulations, the pressures of new developments, and most important of all is the lack of any critical reading of the evolution of the City and a limited definition of what constitutes its legacy and heritage of significance.

37We have already buried several realities of our heritage of Modernity starting with our Seil (Amman’s Stream) which was ignorantly covered because it was perceived to be a cause of health hazard, alas, it could have become the nucleolus of a vibrant urban space in the City. We uncritically succeeded over the years to demolish some very significant examples of our Ammani heritage of Modernity ; one remembers Philadelphia Hotel, the Islamic Scientific College’s Football Stadium (the first in Amman) and al‑Mo’asher’s Hospital. And what we had failed to demolish, we have disfigured like what we had inflected on al-Hussein Sport City in terms of insensitive additions in neo-classical design and in other styles that failed to understand its modernist logic.

38Our adverse effect also reached significant urban areas such as Zahran Corridor (an icon of Amman’s Modernity). Many insensitive additions along the Corridor not only compromised the nature of the frontage area at Zahran (relationship between sidewalk, fence, setback, and building), but also failed to understand the significance of the architecture of Modernity that characterizes the Corridor. Examples of such adverse effects include disastrous additions such as Haboub Supermarket, the new addition to the Islamic Scientific College, Bellevue Hotel, new villas in neo-classical design around the 4th Circle, and the replacement of conifer and pine trees (which had characterized Amman’s arteries such as Zahran and Shari’a) with Palm and Washingtonia trees, inflicted damage to the former building hosting the British Embassy, and many more.

Narrative (scene 4) : Discourses of Neoliberalism in the City : From Social Housing to Gated Communities and Exclusive Urbanity

Neoliberal Urban Restructuring

39If the first oil boom of the 1960s and 1970s in the Gulf facilitated the flow of petro-dollars to banks in places like Beirut and Amman contributing, in the case of Amman, to a more divided city along socio-economic lines of division ; more recently, and towards the 1990s, and with the flow of a new wave of surplus capital from the Gulf, urban dwellers of the City have been noticing the proliferation of a new visual urban landscape manifested in numerous humongous billboards promoting exclusive urban environments in the form of gated communities and high-end business towers in different places of the City leading to more divisions not only between East and West Amman but within different parts of Western Amman as well. A stretch of billboard about the Abdali investment Project is the only source of information between the community at large and this major neoliberal urban restructuring project in the City. The slogans on these billboard (e.g., Let us start the pleasure of shopping) thrives to transform the society into a consumerist one where “property” is the new consumer good par-excellence nowadays.

40It is interesting to understand the effect of the circulation of global capital (surplus oil revenues) and huge reserves of money in search of high yielding and secure investments, excessive privatization, and circulating urban flagship projects in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, all over the Arab Gulf States, and through out the Arab Region on the transforming of urban reality, property values and speculation, and nature of public life in these cities. Amman represents a clear example of neoliberal urban restructuring and emerging forms of spatial ordering and engineering such as high-end and isolated urban development and regeneration (Abdali), upper-end residential “gated” communities all over the City (Green Land, Andalusia), business towers that offer an exclusive concept of refuge and of consumption and even low-income residential cities (in Jizza and al‑Zarqa) that work to push the poorer segments of society to the outskirts of the City in new zoned heterotopias. On prominent objective of this discursive mapping in Amman is to unpack and expose the rhetoric and deconstruct the emancipatory discourse of these emerging landscapes of neoliberalism (Daher 2008). The details of this neoliberal urban transformation on the City of Amman and else where in Jordan will be discussed in this book through a separate chapter by Rami Daher that is dedicated entirely to understanding such discourses of neoliberalism and their effects on the City.

Narrative (scene 5) : Local Attempts for an Alternative Urban Vision : Actors, Agents, and Urban Activists

An Appeal to the “urban creative class”

41I believe that the city is a complicated organism of different power mechanisms and contested narratives ; so in the midst of these urban restructuring projects, arises diverse alternative endeavors championed by creative agents and actors such as urban designers and architects, local community groups, urban activists, philanthropists with a genuine social agenda, or even private investors with a different vision or approach that attempt to counteract such neoliberal urban policies and thrive to create instead a more inclusive urban landscapes in the city. More recently, urbanism research and literature addressed the rise of the creative class in cities that focuses on diversity and creativity as basic drivers of innovations and regional and national growth. The urban creative class includes architects, scientists, engineers, university professors, philosophers, artists, and novelists to mention a few (Florida 2003).

42Amman is a place in the region where one notices the rise of a creative urban class who are trying to make a difference in a socially, economically, and spatially divided city. Amman, increasingly, is paying attention to its social and cultural needs, Amman is gradually becoming an attractive place to live ; improved pedestrinization, increased green space, and multi-use districts have been most recently adopted by Greater Amman Municipality (GAM)13. One of these projects is the Urban Regeneration of Rainbow Street located in a historic section of the city which is close to the downtown area. The project aims to create more spaces for the public (in the form of small urban gardens and panoramic lookouts) in addition to granting voice to this distinctive Ammani urban reality. Wakalat Street in the newly shopping district of Sweifieh is considered the first pedestrian street in the city. In Wakalat Street, the main design objective was to produce the “Anti Mall Space” by creating a “Workable Street” and a recreational promenade that encourages pedestrian life in Amman. The objective was to create a street that is inclusive, welcoming people from different parts of Amman and at the same time, creating a vibrant urban space that wins back public life from shopping malls to the “real” streets of the city14.

  • 15 Hamzet Wasel is a diverse and inclusive community of Amman citizens engaged in social activism and (...)

43Furthermore, Amman is witnessing the emergence of several historic urban adaptations into art galleries, community places, and film production centers (e.g., Darat al‑Funun funded by the Khaled Shouman Foundation, Makan (an alternative space for artists and activists), Dar al‑Anda, the Royal Film Commission, Masrah al‑Balad (a creative urban adaptation of an old derelict Ammani cinema into a public theatre), and several more. Furthermore, Amman is also witnessing the emergence of several urban research centers (e.g., Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE), or Metropolis : Cities Research Council, which is the research arm of TURATH : Architecture and Urban Design Consultants) where both attempt to engage in research that is more integrated into urban life. In addition, the City is also witnessing the emergence of several urban activist groups who thrive to address the gap between east and west Amman such as Hamzet Wasel15 which is a diverse community of Ammanis engaged in social activism and public space building. One significant new phenomenon emerging in the city as well is the emergence of neighborhood associations such as JARA (Jabal Amman Residents Association) and Friends of Jabal al-Weibdeh Association who attempt to improve the urban quality of life in their respective neighborhoods and create a stronger sense of belonging to the city.

Qualifying Amman and its Urban & Social Heritage

44In a more recent novel on Amman entitled “Shahbandar” by Gahraibeh (2003, 51, 120) he stated how the essence of the City centers on the fact that it protects people coming to the city from different locations : it is a City that delivers justice to strangers no matter from where they migrated from. Gharaibeh (2003, 161) goes on to sketching the urban scene in Amman in the early 1920s by describing how the residents of the city are enjoying a continuous celebration of various costumes and head covers, costumes from the east or the west are mixed with Syrian and Lebanese Tarabeesh and Circassian Kalbaks, Iraqi Faisaleiahs, and traditional Arabian head covers not to mention Western hats and suits with beautiful vests and vibrant designs. I strongly believe that the significance of this novel was not simply because it celebrated this multi-layered beginnings of the City with the diverse migrants, but more so because it had chosen Amman as the sheer focus of the novel. This is a new phenomenon that is worth of critical analysis. The City of Amman is starting, and for the first time, to be the focus of inquiry of Jordanian writers and novelists. Are we finally witnessing a major shift and transformation in this crisis of identity ?

45This is too large of a question to be answered solely based on the publication of a series of novels where the City of Amman is the main objective even though this phenomenon is not to be discredited if we consider that the writers and novelists of any nation are supposed to reflect the beating heart of society. I strongly argue that residents in Amman, are gradually witnessing the emergence of a specific generation/class of Ammanis (and this class is growing in numbers) that is very much interested in the specific characteristics of the City and is, even, a bit nostalgic where the object of this nostalgia is the City of Amman with its downtown, residential hills and various steps that connect them together ; but also this class is nostalgic about Amman’s urban and social history and its multi-layered beginnings. This interest/nostalgia is manifested through several phenomena which I will briefly sketch below.

46Firstly, one cannot help but notice that a lot of Ammanis of different backgrounds have started to develop an interest in its historic neighborhoods such as the downtown area (Wast al‑Balad), and other neighborhoods such as older parts of Jabal Amman, Jabal al‑Weibdeh and Jabal al‑Ashrafieh. This is manifested in a come back of families who had left earlier, but is also manifested in the proliferation of different studies and monographs about these urban Ammani spaces in addition to the forming of new residents associations. Furthermore, a lot of cultural bodies and organizations (e.g., Darat al‑Funun, Makan, Dar al‑Anda, Association of Jordanian Writers, Center for the Study of the Built Environment, The Royal Film Commission, Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature), are favoring to be located in such areas rather than in newer parts of the City. For the first time, the social and urban heritage of the City is being celebrated and recognized for its uniqueness and specificity.

47Secondly, Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) is attempting to reinvent itself and redefine its relationship vis-à-vis the City by envisioning its role beyond services and utility provision. It could be true that this might not be the first time GAM re-evaluates its mission as during previous times GAM started to address its role as a patron and facilitator of culture, hence the publication of a special magazine devoted entirely to the City of Amman (Saqr 2003) ; yet, this time around this redefinition of roles is taking on major consequences on the City of Amman. Recently GAM had initiated several urban projects addressing urban regeneration in locations such as Rainbow Street in historic Jabal Amman, Jabal al‑Ashrafieh near Darweesh Mosque, and in the downtown area in Faisal Street. GAM is also currently involved in putting forward to new vision where heritage protection and provision of more green spaces and open spaces for Ammani residents are a top priority.

48According to Razzaz (1996, 357), Jordanian writers are only recently starting to acknowledge Amman as the topic of their novels. Before the early 1990s, the places where the different events of Jordanian novels materialized took place in either mythical spaces or in a generic Arab-Islamic town, or even in cities with no specific identity at all.

Conclusion : The City in the Age of Disengagement

49Whenever we think we can reconcile with this reality that is Amman, sudden shifts always occur. These new emerging three phenomena and transformations discussed in the previous section are all happening in the midst of neoliberal urban transformations and restructuring which is and will have a major effect on people’s relationship to the city, specially the relationship between the citizens of Amman on both sides of the economic scale, but also on residents of the city in the Western most affluent part as well. The challenge today is how will Ammanis cope with the increasing number of spaces of exclusion in the city ? How will a city that was famous for its inclusive urbanity, healthy social mixed urban environment, and a down-to-earth, humble, and yet equally unique and distinctive urban heritage cope with the rise of isolated urban patches and territories of exclusiveness in the form of gates communities, office towers, shopping malls to mention a few ? The 21st century presents a major challenge for Amman where as a response achieving social equity should be the priority of its citizens and management bodies.

50I believe that the city is a complicated organism of different power mechanisms and contested narratives ; so, in the midst of these urban restructuring projects, arises diverse alternative endeavors championed by creative agents and actors such as urban designers and architects, local community groups, urban activists, philanthropists with a genuine social agenda, or even private investors with a different vision or approach that attempt to counteract such neoliberal urban policies and thrive to create instead a more inclusive urban landscapes in the city.

51Several urban activists are emerging in Amman. Some are resisting such major neoliberal urban restructuring in the city, and others are attempting to resist the proliferation of a more consumer society, while others are attempting to grant voice to Amman and to celebrate the city at different levels. I have always been a believer in the power of individuals making a difference. Many of Amman’s citizens and creative urban class are genuinely trying to make a difference either by researching the city which had been understudied for so long, or by granting voice to its multilayered beginnings and marginalized realities ; or by contributing to the creation of more inclusive public spaces in the city ; or even by resisting neoliberal visions and agendas that are fragmenting the city at different levels. This introduction is dedicated to all Ammanis and especially to those groups of dedicated individuals who are sincerely trying to make a difference.

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Notes

1 Refer to the details of the Exhibition “Amman Narrated (Amman Inhakat) which was authored by Rami Daher and TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultants (2009) for a detailed discussion of diverse migrants coming to Amman throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

2 Refer to the study conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultants entitled: Consultancy Services for the Amman Heritage Conservation Studies (2010).

3 Sharq al‑Arabi Newspaper, Issue 165, Thursday, September 11, 1927.

4 These observations were based on fieldwork conducted in Amman, Beirut, and Damascus by the author between the years 2002 and 2007.

5 By Modernity, this article refers to a period of cultural change that affected Europe at the turn of the 20th century and induced a major cultural, technical, and territorial transformation affecting architecture, the industries, people’s value systems, and life style. This was a period that was based on science, socialist ideologies, and social equity. As far as architecture is concerned, this period is called the Modern (with a capital M) heroic era of architecture where different schools of architectural thought and visionary architects and artists influenced the beginning of the 20th century (e.g. Le Corbusier in France, The Deutscher Wekbund and the Bauhaus in Germany, Modernismo in Spain championed by pioneers such as Picasso and Gaudi, Russian Constructivists like Melnikov, and many others). Of course, Modernity as a major cultural change in the 20th century affected different parts of the World in various ways and at different times.

6 Refer to the detailed study and project conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultants entitled: Urban Regeneration of Faisal Street in Amman (2008-9).

7 Oral history reports document the perseverance and persisting vision of the founders of the Islamic Scientific College in Amman as early as the 1940s. The Abu Qura family leaders had to be very determined and demanding in convincing Amman Municipality at that time to pave the road leading to the site of the School from the First Circle (which was considered the edge of the City at that time).

8 A beauty pageant was held in Philadelphia hotel before the middle of the 20th Century. Now, if we put aside for a moment and disregarded the inhumane and unethical notion of parading human flesh on the catwalk, the fact that this beauty pageant took place is an indicator of an active and vibrant society. The different ladies that participated in the pageant represented Amman’s rich human mosaic at that time (e.g., Circasssians, Damascene, Palestinian, Bedouin, Lebanese, Armenians, and many others). It is one additional testimonial to Amman’s message of tolerance and social inclusion at that time, testifying again in favor of a Modern City preaching and practicing social equity amongst its different ethnic, religious, and social groups.

9 Refer to the study conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultants entitled: Consultancy Services for the Amman Heritage Conservation Studies (2010).

10 Based on research conducted by the author between 2006-7 in the downtown area and specially in Faisal Street, the following urban merchants and individuals were identified through ethnographic, historic, and archival research, here is a list in arbitrary order: Hassan Abu Ali (oldest book Kiosk since 1957 / Izzat Mansour / Dukkan al‑Mudakhen / Old Hardware Stores / Libraries & Bookshops: (Istiklal and Iziziah), Bustami bookshop / Ali Abu Kamal: the first Fabrics shop in Souq Mango / Wassef Bsharat, one of the first pioneers in Amman who had built Souq al‑Bsharat / The early Pharmacies (Amin Qawar and Najeeb Qubaisi / House and Clinic of Dr. Hrant Bardimian / Clinic of Dr. Jameel Totongy / Clinic of Dr. Ibrahim Katbih in Faisal / Clinic of Dr. Yousef Izziddin bin Ibrahim in Shabsough / Lawer Bahjat Bek al‑Talhouni / Abd al‑Rahim Malhas in Rida Street / Mohammad Amin Daher in the in the Jordanian Postal Service / Sheikh Kamal al‑Din al‑Bukhari of Souq al‑Bukhariah / Butcher Hamdi Mango (Municipality Street / Hajj Mahmoud al Tabah / Diraniah, Idilbi & Malas / Mahmoud & Adel Habibah of the famous Habibah Sweets / Mohammad al Zoubi (who had established King Ghazi Hotel) / Tawfiq Bustami (Bookshop established in 1946) / Terreize Absroula with her fabrics and sewing shop / and Mahmoud Issa Yousef al‑Safadi (who first established al‑Safadi Library which later became Istiklal).

11 Refer to the detailed study and project conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultants entitled: Urban Regeneration of Faisal Street in Amman (2008-9).

12 Please refer to the Amman Cinema Archives (special collection of Rami Daher).

13 Al-Asad, Mohammad, “The City’s Creative Energies”. http://www.csbe.org/urban_crossroads/urban_crossroads82/city_creative_energies.htm (accessed July 21, 2008).

14 For detailed information on both Projects: Rainbow and Wakalat Streets, please refer to the studies conducted by TURATH: Architecture & Urban Design Consultants (2006-9).

15 Hamzet Wasel is a diverse and inclusive community of Amman citizens engaged in social activism and authentic relationship building across the city. Hamzet Wasel works with individuals and communities to design and participate in activities and programs that tackle the city’s complex challenges and explore its unique opportunities.

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2011

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