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Atlas of Jordan

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Myriam Ababsa

Chapter nine - City Planning, Local Governance and Urban Policies

The Amman Ruseifa-Zarqa Built-Up Area: the Heart of the National Economy

Myriam Ababsa

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1A comprehensive study of urban functions, social disparities and urban policies of the Amman-Ruseifa-Zarqa built-up area is essential not only because it is home to half the country’s population, but primarily because it is the driving force of the national economy with 91% of the capitalization of Jordanian companies (8.6 billion dinars out of a total of 9.4 billion in 2010), it is home to more than half of Jordan’s businesses, and the seat of government and justice. Jordan’s economy is centralized to the extent that almost all company headquarters are located in Amman, as well as the major private universities, the biggest private clinics, shopping centres and local and foreign cultural centres (fig. IX.9).

Figure IX.9 — Greater Amman Municipality Main Functions.

Figure IX.9 — Greater Amman Municipality Main Functions.

Amman-Ruseifa-Zarqa Urban Growth

2Since 1948 and 1967, with the arrival of 100,000 and 300,000 Palestinian refugees respectively, who mainly settled between Amman and Zarqa (but also in Irbid), and the rural exodus, the Amman-Ruseifa-Zarqa conurbation expanded considerably by more the 4% per year. In collaboration with the Royal Jordanian Geographic Center, I have created a map showing the growth of the Greater Amman Municipality, Ruseifa and Zarqa built-up area using Landsat Satellite Images for 1983, 1994 and 2005 (fig. IX.10). This allowed me to calculate the following Average Annual Growth Rates of over 4% a year, based on precise built-up areas. Greater Amman grew from 72 km² in 1983 to 144 km² in 1994 and 226 km² in 2005. At this time, the Greater Amman Municipality covered 700 km². In 2007, it doubled to reach 1,662 km². However, in September 2011, the municipality reverted to 700 km², with the end of the amalgamation of Greater Amman Municipality (fig. IX.11).

Figure IX.10 — Amman Ruseifa and Zarqa urban growth between 1946 and 2008.

Figure IX.10 — Amman Ruseifa and Zarqa urban growth between 1946 and 2008.

Figure IX.11 — The expansion of Amman Municipal Boundaries between 1925 and 2011.

Figure IX.11 — The expansion of Amman Municipal Boundaries between 1925 and 2011.

3The average annual growth of the urban built-up area is higher than average annual demographic growth over a similar period, except for 1962-1979, due to the arrival of 300,000 Palestinian refugees (table IX.2). While Amman was expanding horizontally at an annual growth rate of 6.6% between 1983 and 1994, its population grew by 5.5% per year; and between 1994 and 2005, the built-up area expanded at an average annual rate of 4.2%, compared to 3.1% population growth between 1994 and 2004. All these rates are very high. In comparison, Jordan’s population increased by 2.2% in 2009. This indicates massive urban sprawl and low population density.

Table IX.2 — Amman, Ruseifa and Zarqa Built-Up Expansion Annual Growth Rate.

Amman

Area in sq Km

Av. Annual Growth Rate

1947

2.05

1956

4.34

8.8%

1961

28.6

1983

71.8

4.3%

1994

144.6

6.6%

2005

226.6

4.2%

Zarqa - Ruseifa

Area in sq Km

1961

8.3

1983

22

4.5%

1994

45.1

6.7%

2005

79.7

5.3%

Source : author calculation based on RJGC Satellite Image and Maps Analysis, 2009

Table IX.3 — Amman, Ruseifa and Zarqa Population Average Annual Growth Rate.

Amman

Population (Census)

Av. Annual Growth Rate

1962

214 219

1979

623 925

5.7%

1994

1 392 195

5.5%

2004

1 896 426

3.1%

Zarqa - Ruseifa

Population (Census)

1979

265 950

1994

531 068

4.7%

2004

631 307

1.7%

Source : author calculation based on the National Population and Housing Census, Department of Statistics 2004

Density and construction

4Regarding its morphology, there are obvious differences in density and type of housing between the poor central and eastern districts, and the wealthy residential west, the north (which is mixed) and the industrial south. In collaboration with the computer-mapping department of the Greater Amman Municipality, we have produced a series of maps detailing the 4,808 plots that made up the city of Amman at the time of the 2004 census, before it was extended to the south.

5As Greater Amman Municipality expanded in 2007, its population density grew to reach 40 inhabitants per hectare (or 4,000 inhabitants per km²). However in Amman’s central districts (Wadi Hadadeh, al-Nozha, al-Hashemi al-Shamali, al-Hashemi al-Janubi, Hamza, Jabal al-Nasr, al-Amir Hasan, Jabal Jofeh, al-Manarah, al-Taj, al-Mudarraj, al-Ashrafieh, al-Nadhif, al-Akhdar, al-Awdeh and al-Thera) the population density is over 20,000 inhabitants per square kilometre (with a maximum of 31,240) which is among the highest urban densities in the world (fig. IX.12).

6These districts include most of the informal settlements that developed following the arrival in the city of the 1967 Palestinian displaced persons from the West Bank and Gaza. Many of the settlements sprang up on the fringes of the official refugee camps of Jabal Hussein and Wahdat, which had been set up to accommodate the neediest refugees in 1952 and 1955 respectively. Figures IX.13 to IX.16 present the morphology of urban Amman. The census tells us about the types of buildings; whether they are traditional houses (dar) of one or two floors (sometimes with a courtyard), buildings or villas. The mapping of these types of buildings highlights several morphological types: the dominant type in the centre of Amman is collective housing in apartment blocks, either four-storey family buildings (with the possibility of building stories below street level, to benefit from hillside slopes) built in the 1970s during the oil boom; or since the 1990s, buildings over eight storeys high. Apartment blocks make up on average more than half of all buildings.

Figure IX.13-16 — Types of Housing in Amman at the block level in 2004.

Figure IX.13-16 — Types of Housing in Amman at the block level in 2004.

7Mapping of traditional houses reveals two very different morphological types: that of the rural areas on the fringes of the city where more than two-thirds of houses are dar (in the North : Um Shtairat, Um al-Orouq, Yajouz, Marj Firas; in the East: Salhiya, Amira Alya, Um Nowwarah; in the South: the former large cereal growing villages of Um al-Kundum and Yadouda as well as Jawa Qobaa and Wafaa; and finally in the West: Zabda, Waisa, al-Ghrous and Belal) with agricultural activities surviving in the South and West, and poor self-built habitats in the town centre. It is thus quite remarkable to note that in both the Wahdat and Jabal Hussein camps two thirds of their self-built buildings around courtyards were statistically recorded as dars, even though they were extended by self construction after 1967. The informal settlements of Jabal al-Qusour and Jabal Akhdar also have a majority of homes classified as dar because they were classified as such in the 1970s.

8Finally, villas are clearly concentrated in the western part of the city, constituting more than half of housing in the neighbourhoods of Abdoun Shamali and Abdoun Janubi, but also in a small-developed area north of Raghadan. On the whole, villas make up a quarter of buildings in Bashir, Tala Ali, Khalda, Um al-Summaq and Deir Ghbar. All these neighbourhoods with villas have developed over the years 1990-2000 (in 1994 only one third of them had been built).

Mapping Social Disparities

The Young and the Elderly in Amman: the real indicator of poverty in the City

9Figures IX.17 and IX.18 clearly show the line that divides East and West Amman. Less than one-third of West Amman’s population is under the age of 15, compared to more than 38% of the population of East Amman (al-Nasr, al-Quweisma and Khirbet al-Suq districts). At the other end of the age range, figure IX.18 indicates that the elderly population group (between 75 and 79 years old) makes up less than 1% of the population in East Amman, whereas it sometimes reaches 6.6% in blocks of West Amman. It is interesting to note that the elderly do not live in the neighbourhoods with the most expensive villas (whose residents are young), but in the districts of West Amman developed during the 1950s: Badr, Zahran and Um Qusayr. In 2004, life expectancy in Jordan was 71 years for men and 74 years for women. In 2004 37.3% of Jordan’s population was under 15 and 3.2% was over 65 (Dos 2007).

Figure IX.17 — Percentage of population under 15 in Amman at the block level in 2004.

Figure IX.17 — Percentage of population under 15 in Amman at the block level in 2004.

Figure IX.18 — Percentage of elder in Amman at the block level in 2004.

Figure IX.18 — Percentage of elder in Amman at the block level in 2004.

10These figures allow us to present the different types of families in the city: with more than 4 children per family in the neighbourhoods to the East (informal areas near camps) and those with fewer than 4 children and with elderly family members in the west.

Sex Ratio

11Figures IX.19 and IX.20 indicate the sex ratio in the active population. Due to the emigration of many young educated professional men (260,000 Jordanians work abroad) and the massive presence of female domestic workers (mostly from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines), West Amman’s active population is slightly more feminine than in East Amman. East Amman’s active population includes more men, partly because of the presence of foreign male workers employed in construction and the manufacturing sector (mainly Egyptians).

Figure IX.19 — Percentage of Men in active population in 2004.

Figure IX.19 — Percentage of Men in active population in 2004.

Figure IX.20 — Percentage of Women in active population in 2004.

Figure IX.20 — Percentage of Women in active population in 2004.

Workers and Job Seekers in Amman

12Figures IX.21 and IX.22 further confirm the division line between West and East Amman. Figure IX.18 shows that more than 36% (up to 62% in Abdoun Janoubi, Helal and Yasmin) of West Amman’s active population is economically active, whereas only 26% to 36% of East Amman’s active population is economically active. In contrast, job seekers represent between 6% and 14% of the population in East Amman and the rural fringes, and between 3% and 9% of West Amman’s population.

Figure IX.21 — Percentage of Workers in Active Population in 2004.

Figure IX.21 — Percentage of Workers in Active Population in 2004.

Figure IX.22 — Percentage of Job Seekers in active population in 2004.

Figure IX.22 — Percentage of Job Seekers in active population in 2004.

Social Disparities

13Social disparities are particularly wide within the major Jordanian towns that saw the arrival of Palestinian refugees from 1948 onwards and especially in 1967. Large pockets of poverty have developed in informal settlements built near UNRWA camps. These densely populated areas, with insufficient health and education services (even UNRWA schools work with morning and afternoon shifts), are also home to poor foreigners (mostly Palestinians from Gaza with Egyptian travel documents, but also poor Iraqi refugees). The series of maps IX.23 to IX.31 is based on Greater Amman’s urban districts from the 2004 census. It shows the major social disparities within the densely populated districts of downtown Amman, the residential areas to the west, industrial areas to the southeast and rural areas to the south. Greater Amman is characterized by a double opposition between East and West and urban and rural areas.

14We chose the most original of the many indicators available: the number of foreigners in each district, level of education and sector of professional activity. The Department of Statistics provides few figures for the number of foreigners in Greater Amman in 2004.

15Whereas between 250,000 and 800,000 Arab workers and between 141,000 and 320,000 Asians were estimated to be living in Jordan in 2008, plus approximately 250,000 Palestinian non-citizens and 200,000 Iraqi refugees; only 57,814 Egyptians, 49,422 Palestinians, 30,626 Iraqis and 9,127 Indonesians were recorded in Greater Amman in 2004. Maps show their distribution within the city; Indonesians, 99% of whom are women, live in the city’s most affluent western part, where they work as maids (fig. IX.26). Iraqis are mainly in the old quarters of the city, where they live with relatives, especially within the Christian communities, while the poorest live in camps (fig. IX.25). Palestinian non-citizens (about 250,000) are concentrated in the Jabal Hussein and Wahdat camps and the informal settlements around them where they have relatives (fig. IX.24). Egyptians rent downtown apartments, especially in poverty stricken Jabal Nadhif, in Wadi al‑Sir and in the many greenhouses set up on agricultural land south of Amman, many of them are caretakers and gardeners in the western districts of the Capital (fig. IX.23).

16Maps of education levels show that rural areas still have many illiterate elderly women (fig. IX.27) and inhabitants with only primary school education (fig. IX.28). Amman’s eastern districts, where UNRWA schools are located, have a high percentage of inhabitants who have been educated to preparatory level (fig. IX.29). Segregation between west and east is clearly shown by academic qualifications: [in the western districts] more than a quarter of the population are graduates, compared to less than one tenth in central and eastern districts of Amman (fig. IX.30).

17In terms of profession, professionals, who are also the most qualified members of the population, reside in west Amman (fig. IX.31), shopkeepers are numerous in the old city, with the richest being in the wealthy neighbourhoods of Abdun and Deir Ghbar (fig. IX.32), there are many craftsmen in eastern areas of the city (carpenters and repairmen) (fig. IX.33), finally unskilled workers live near the industrial areas south-east of the city (fig. IX.34).

Figure IX.23-26 — Spatial distribution of Foreigners in GAM districts in 2004.

Figure IX.23-26 — Spatial distribution of Foreigners in GAM districts in 2004.

Figure IX.27-30 — Education level by districts in 2004.

Figure IX.27-30 — Education level by districts in 2004.

Figure IX.31-34 — Active population distribution by type of occupation in GAM districts in 2004.

Figure IX.31-34 — Active population distribution by type of occupation in GAM districts in 2004.

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure IX.9 — Greater Amman Municipality Main Functions.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 188k
Titre Figure IX.10 — Amman Ruseifa and Zarqa urban growth between 1946 and 2008.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 412k
Titre Figure IX.11 — The expansion of Amman Municipal Boundaries between 1925 and 2011.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 164k
Titre Figure IX.13-16 — Types of Housing in Amman at the block level in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 360k
Titre Figure IX.17 — Percentage of population under 15 in Amman at the block level in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 68k
Titre Figure IX.18 — Percentage of elder in Amman at the block level in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Titre Figure IX.19 — Percentage of Men in active population in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Titre Figure IX.20 — Percentage of Women in active population in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 240k
Titre Figure IX.21 — Percentage of Workers in Active Population in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Titre Figure IX.22 — Percentage of Job Seekers in active population in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-10.png
Fichier image/png, 240k
Titre Figure IX.23-26 — Spatial distribution of Foreigners in GAM districts in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 248k
Titre Figure IX.27-30 — Education level by districts in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 276k
Titre Figure IX.31-34 — Active population distribution by type of occupation in GAM districts in 2004.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/5044/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 275k

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