July 28, 2007

Pedestrians on Wakalat Street fined for littering

AMMAN — The Environmental Police Department has, for the first time, penalized pedestrians in the newly-opened Wakalat Street for littering. Police personnel issued tickets to two citizens for throwing rubbish in the street as part of the department’s efforts to keep the country’s streets free of pollution,” Director of the Environmental Police Department (EPD) Colonel Abdullah Abdullat told The Jordan Times. He said citizens should enjoy their right to clean streets, especially those designated for pedestrians and shopping.

Earlier this week, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) opened Wakalat Street in Sweifieh, the first in the capital designed exclusively for pedestrians.

As part of the JD850,000 project, GAM paved 17,000 square metres with coloured tiles, posted maps on the street’s entrances and built a kiosk to provide services to visitors.

The street is one of the venues for activities of the Amman Summer Festival, organised by the Tourism Ministry in cooperation with Jordan Tourism Board, to provide summer-long entertainment for citizens and tourists.

According to Abdullat, the EPD registered 4,192 environmental violations since the beginning of the year, 1,586 of them in the agricultural and animal production and public health sectors.

The department also recorded 1,459 infringements in vehicle gas emissions, 571 in factories, industrial facilities and quarries and 93 cases of wild and marine life abuse.

“On Tuesday, we registered three cases of marine life abuse; the violators will be fined up to JD25,000 and jailed for a period ranging between six to 12 months,” Abdullat said.

Other breaches included 33 cases of illegal logging, he noted, adding that the violators will be fined amounts ranging from JD20 to JD1,000 and face jail sentences from one to six months.

The Abdoun-based department handles offences and issues related to smog, water pollution, littering, tree cutting and illegal hunting.

It will also be responsible for inspecting factories, industrial zones and picnic areas and fining violators of environmental laws.

Earlier this month, a Public Security Department helicopter started inspecting industrial facilities in environmental hot spots in the country to help the environmental police monitor violations.

Three times a month, the helicopter flies over hot spots in Ajloun, Sahab, the Jordan Valley and Zarqa, which is home to more than 50 per cent of the country’s industrial facilities. It monitors emissions from these facilities and littering and reports violations to the environmental police.

By Hana Namrouqa

Article originally published by Jordan Times 27-Jul-07

July 27, 2007

"The Transformers"

"The Transformers," rocks to metals. That's what's happening to Amman. Being transformed from it's heritage and it's roots to western alien modernity. High rise buildings scattered everywhere in the city, they don't engage with the surrounding buildings or respect the city, it's heritage, skyline and it's form. High rise building in the city will increase traffic congestions that will cause more noise and pollution.

The GAM released the new urban development of Amman early this month, and asked for public feedback after they already went ahead with the strategy. They permit Jordan gate, Al-Abdali, living Wall, and other projects, God knows, then after that they develop a strategy and ask for suggestions?

We are Amman, we live in Amman, this is our history, this is our city. We need to have the right to participate in it's future, in it's land, air, and skies.

Construction has begun on a new Foster + Partners project in Jordan. 'Living Wall' is a 150,000 sq m mixed-use complex at the heart of Amman, close to the new Al-Abdali city center.

The site, an extraordinary carved-out rock shelf, its geology and history have been the inspiration for the scheme’s unique concept. Set against a sheer 30m backdrop, the project presents physical challenges that are not unlike those faced at ancient Jordanian sites such as Petra, where the buildings were carved out of the rock itself.

Location: The site is located in West Amman, close to the new Al-Abdali city centre.

Facilities: 6 towers (boutique hotel, a variety of residential units, offices) connected to a terraced podium, a large public piazza with sunken amphitheatre and the Energy centre.

Site Area: 12,500m²

Gross Area: 150,000m²

Net Area: Boutique Hotel 10,500m²
Residential 10,000m²
Offices 15,000m²
Retail 24,000

No. of floors: Towers: average 12 floors, podium 7 floors

Cladding: Towers:
Double-skin fa├žades with screens to help air circulation and reduce overheating. Where shading is required, the screen becomes dense, controlling the amount of incoming solar energy.

Full height natural stone cladding to give the feel of stratified rock layers sedimented on top of each other. The solidity of the podium cladding counteracts the transparency of the towers and blends the development into the landscape and the surroundings.

  • Committee: Dip (Development and Investment Projects Fund)
  • Project leader: Foster and Partners
  • Project Team: Orman Foster, Mouzhan Majidi, Huw Thomas, Doretta Bevilacqua, Sharon Giffen, Omar Al Omari, Asa Hjort, Martin Lorger, Taba Rasti, Samar Rizkallah, Rashmeeta Chana, Laura Silva Dona, Henry Suryo, Maher Matar, Paul Gordz
  • Structures: Buro Happold
  • Consultants: Project Manager: Meem International

read more

July 24, 2007

Opening of the complex travel north and the conversion of Abdali into Garden

Omar Maani GAM mayor opened today the transportation terminal Al-shamal compound as an alternative to the Abdali compound, which will start working on it Friday 20-7-2007 morning and he inspected the facilities. According to GAM the new terminal will contribute to reducing pressure on the Street Traffic Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, the former university field Gamal Abdel Nasser Interior. The terminal which is located in the Tareq Area on Jordan Street will occupy about 175 vehicles and 242 medium buses, and 278 for rented-taxis 'sarvies'.

The project was designed in a modern way in a land area of 32 dunums cost 1.78 million dinars excluding the land price. According to GAM the project aims to upgrade the infrastructure and improve the efficiency of road and improve the environmental situation and making aesthetic elements on the site. The Abdali compound will be converted to a public park with all kind of services that will become an outlet for the region that witness density in population and lack green areas.
Changing the terminal location to the 'Al-Shamali' terminal might be a good move since the best location for a transportation hub is to be located at the city boundaries, but won't this move shift the jam from one location to another? Well, the future will tell. The best part of this plan is to transfer Al-Abdali into a park. But, and we learn from other lessons, will Al-Abdali turn in the future to be another Ras-Elin? building another museum, or a city hall, cultural center, or even another municipality building? Is there going to be fountains, trees, pools, or just tiles and few bushes? or just something like the new Ras-Elin area?
What about the new Abdali project. Won't it cause more traffic congestions to the area? Won't it need parking or closer transportation services?
All these questions will be answered in the few coming years. I doubt that the traffic congestions will be solved in that part of the city, it will be worst.
What if we kept Al-Abdali terminal as it is "Saving us some money" build a park at the new claimed Abdali project and move the Abdali project outside the city, somewhere at 'Al-matar' road? It might be too late to do so, but we have to act now better than later and everyday counts.
I can't see all of this happening and not say anything. According to GAM strategy announced earlier this month building new high rise towers will cause more congestions to the city. Moreover, designing the guidelines of the high rise buildings at the bottom of the city mountains so they don't affect the city skyline is a good idea from the perspective of preserving the city skyline and character. But, will the developers like that? If they want to spend millions of dollars on a building. They will need it to stand up in the Sky.
All indications shows that building a new city with high rise buildings away from the city center and populated Amman region is the best choice.

By Emad Salameh

July 23, 2007

Al-Wakalat Street opened as the First pedestrian street in Amman City


Engineer Omar Maani Mayor of Amman opened Alwekalat Street in Allsouifieh with a new character of a distinguished landscape architecture, urban furniture, and cosmetic work.
At the opening ceremony, which was attended by a crowd of all age groups, Eng. Al Maani said that the experience of the Al-Wakalat Street as the first pedestrian street for friendly-shopping experience in Amman consider a successful experiment in all benchmarks and will be circulated in the future on the streets of the city to realize the aspirations of the GAM for Amman city to make it pedestrian-friendly.

By Emad Salameh

July 18, 2007

Amman City Streets

Photo by Emad Salameh

Amman is a city best enjoyed on foot, yet we plan our streets for cars.

Amman City's streets are the soul of its neighborhoods and the pathways to it’s destinations. For generations, Jordanians and visitors have strolled, shopped and socialized on sidewalks and street corners. Pedestrian friendly streets are the city's most fundamental assets.

Unfortunately, we aren't making the most of these assets. Instead, our streets are being managed almost entirely for traffic flow, with neighborhoods and business districts buckling under increasing amounts of dangerous car and truck traffic. If we continue planning our streets for cars and traffic, we will get more cars and traffic; conversely, if we start planning our cities for people and places, we will get more people and places.

Streets are more than just car corridors; they are valuable civic spaces and resources that need to be wisely allocated. We need to start thinking about a campaign building the movement to re-imagine our streets as lively public places.

July 17, 2007

Promoting for transportation alternatives in Amman City

NYC Cycling Map 2007

The New York Cycling Map was developed to encourage more people to bicycle by identifying a network of the best streets and park paths for cycling; to educate cyclists about their rights and responsibilities as roadway and park users; to inform cyclists about access to mass transit, points of interest and bike shops; and to recognize cycling as a legitimate mode of transportation.
I am posting this map to show what a cycling map can look like and to suggest it to city officials to consider planning for bicycle lane in Amman.

In 2006, at least 14 bicyclists were killed in New York city.
This Ghost bike is a memorial for all those whose deaths never made the news.
We need to work toward reclaiming Amman City's streets from the automobile,
and to advocate for bicycling, walking and public transit as the best transportation alternatives.

This can be part of a general mission to reclaim Amman city streets from the automobile, and to advocate for bicycling, walking, and public transit as the best transportation alternatives. Seeking to change Amman transportation priorities to encourage and increase clean, quite, friendly travel, and decrease car use. What we seek is a rational transportation alternative based on a :"Green transportation Hierarchy," which gives preference to modes of travel based on their benefits and costs to society. Read below about Green transportation hierarchy.

The GAM launched early this month the city of Amman planing interim strategy without considering locations for bicycle lines. We ask from the GAM to consider providing bicycle lanes in certain locations in the city. There are certain routes thats can be designed inside and outside the city, providing bicycle lanes are important for the safety of cyclists and will be a step forward toward a more comprehensive green planning of Amman city.

The green transportation hierarchy is the basic concept behind transportation reform groups all over the world, including Transportation Alternatives. The hierarchy puts city-friendly cyclists and pedestrians first. It rewards their low cost, space efficiency, and zero environmental impact. Trucks are not last because they perform vital commercial functions in cities. An important part of the green transportation hierarchy is that trucks get priority over personal automobiles for scarce curbside parking.

July 16, 2007

The Famous architect Rem Koolhas in Jordan

Rendering of Central Chinese Television Tower, Beijing China, Rem Koolhaas, Ole Scheeren/Office for Metropolitan Architecture, projected completion 2008, ©OMA/Rem Koolhaas

A discussion session with Rem Koolhas:
Under the supervision of the Mayor of Amman, Mr.Omar El maani, there will be a discussion session with the world renowned architect:
Rem Koolhaas
held on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 5:00 pm
at Al-Hussein Cultural Center – First floor theater/ Ras Al-Ain
For more details contact : 4619968

July 15, 2007

Music Matbakh in Amman

Some of the most exciting young musicians from across the Arabic world will perform in Amman next Sunday in a bold and innovative new kind of global collaboration.

Under the banner ‘Music Matbakh’ (Arabic for ‘kitchen’), a dozen performers from six different countries in North Africa and the Near East will perform in Amman Sunday July 27th at Al-Hussein Center Ras El-Ein. The event is hosted by the British council.

The invited musicians include both popular and traditional performers, virtuoso instrumentalists, singers, percussionists, wizards of electronica and MCs drawn from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia. They will work with musical director Justin Adams (producer of the highly acclaimed album, ‘Aman Iman’, by Tinariwen) who has been involved with British Council projects in Syria and Tunisia and whose wide and varied experience made him a natural choice.

Music Matbakh will perform in Jordan and leave on July 23 to perform in Syria. And in August the group will perform in Alexandria, Cairo and Tunis.

To get the free tickets and schedule of the performance in Amman contact the British Council at +4636147 or Orangered at T: +4623297.

read more

July 13, 2007

Kuwait's KGL Petroleum to Invest $500 Million in Jordan

Kuwait's KGL Petroleum to Invest $500 Million in Jordan

Amman, July 12 (Petra)--Board Chairman of the Kuwait KGL Petroleum Company and Former Kuwaiti Industry and Trade Minister Yousef Al Zalzalah said that the company had allocated $500 million for investment in Jordan.

"The amount could increase, for the company intends to expand its investment in the future," Al Zalzalah said in a statement to Jordan News Agency.

His visit to Jordan, he added, came due to Jordan's good reputation in the investment field, noting that this prompted Kuwaitis to set up investment projects in Jordan.

The KGL chairman said the company has investments in various oil sectors, adding the company started investing in Jordan, particularly after its representatives attended a conference in Jordan and held meetings with Jordanian investors.

Al Zalzalah hailed Jordanian legislations which encourage Arab and foreign investors to invest in the country through providing them with facilities and preserving their rights.

"The strong brotherly ties between His Majesty King Abdullah II and the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah also prompted Kuwaitis to invest in the Kingdom," he added.

July 10, 2007

To make it better

To make it better

We are all excited about Petra being included in the New Seven Wonders, which will result in a huge increase in tourism in Jordan. But are we ready for it?

Not yet. We need to bring the site to world standards in terms of services and offerings to the visitors. We need to organise something better than the self-initiated tents we have out there.

Let me propose a few things. To start with, we should have decent hygiene facilities run properly and efficiently. A cluster of very clean toilets at the beginning, near the Treasury and at the further end are a must.

Proper souvenir shops with good quality items like T-shirts, sweat shirts, caps, umbrellas, mugs, key chains with the name Petra should be available. If the quality is better than what is now available in tents, these will sell.

Proper and clean coffee shops and restaurants should also be made available. On a summer afternoon, tourists would like to rest and sip a drink in one of these restaurants. They can even offer a buffet lunch at reasonable prices (without sales tax), which would be appreciated by tourists who go down in the mornings and stay there till late afternoons. This can be done by building a small complex with a restaurant, souvenir shops and toilets, and should be contracted out to one single party willing to manage all together.

The existing sight and sound night programmes should be replaced by something of much better quality.

We need to invest if we wish to satisfy tourists. Tourists visiting Petra from different corners of the world spend lots of money on travelling and hotels; spending a few extra bucks while they are at one of the seven wonders will not hurt them.

We should also consider offering something special to the tourists at night, once they come out of the site and head back to their hotels. Presently we have absolutely no nightlife, which leaves them bored and uninterested in spending an extra day in Petra.

Jordan has worked very hard to see Petra winning. Now let’s take advantage of it.

Posted by
Waqar Khan,

Source: Jordan Times from Letters to the Editor/ Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 9, 2007

Amman Mini-Metro from the 1st circle to the 8th circle?

The line's southern terminus at La Poterie was designed by British architect Lord Foster.

Do you think this is a good idea to solve the city traffic congestions in AMMAN, limit pollution, and find alternatives for transportation? What if the city contracted a foreign company to sponsor and finish the project and get the revenue for about 10 or 20 years before the city get it back?

GAM announced that the deadline to remove Billboards covering buildings is 30th August. Do you agree or disagree?

Another decision was made by the GAM asking to remove the Billboard that covers the buildings and regulate advertisement in the city.
1) Didn't GAM give, in the first place, those billboard locations permissions to certain advertisement agencies?
2) Will removing those Ads make the city looks better?
3) Doesn't these ads with it's current locations gives richness and variety to the city? Take for example: NY or las Vegas.
4) Is this just a business to get more money for new locations?
5) Don't you think how those Ads been spread everywhere are a reflection of the chaos we have in GAM and the advertisement agencies too?
6) Don't you think that there are things that's more important than removing those Ads that the GAM need to focus on, for example: building towers that blocks other buildings?
7) Billboards blocking buildings. Blocking what? Which Views?

To study more about Ads and the City I recommend reading the book: "learning from las Vegas" by Robert Venturi. Published before about 35 years.

No to Abdali Project Nor to Abu Ghazaleh / A different perspective

Obviously, Abdali project was planned and created without being initially part of any development plans of the city. The new GMA Interim strategy, which was inspired by the vision of our beloved wise King Abdullah last year, came later after and the GMA took that project as the key element for the development of the city.

We need a more comprehensive study for the city of Amman development taking into the considerations all the Stakeholders for the city development, and everybody should cooperate.

I can say, the municipality started doing that by building the GMA interim strategy not by only talking to the community asking for suggestions but to be transparent in the process. There will be mistakes along the way that can be prevented. However, this debate is only the beginning but we don't need more mistakes and corruption. On the other hand, the GMA strategy need to be more comprehensive and careful of addressing such problems.

But why now after all this effort of producing such a plan we still see debates and corrupted actions like that? Is this the beginning only? Will the new city development plan cause debates? or can the municipality actions continue being transparent

We need Amman to be environmentaly sustainable and green

One of the strategies being experienced in other cities when developing a modern new buildings is done by creating a new locations and new city centers. There was an opportunity to create a new city for Amman, put all these high rise buildings in one area creating a new magnet and away from the crowded center of the city. This will not only preserve the city fabric and history but will also decrease traffic congestions, .

Take for example Paris, they built a new city called La Defense and built the modern high rises there maintaining the character of the old city.

On the other hand, the new high rise building located at the 6th circle in Amman, they call it "City gate"..gate in the middle of the city!!!, now under construction, is a big mistake. The two glass towers are located at one of the highest points of Amman, imagine building at the top of that location two glass boxes that doesn't relate to the city skyline and doesn't relate to the city character.

Other cities have the same problem. In NY they are building a new "Trump" tower in Soho and the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, but the city of New York accepted to substitute the affected residents. And the law supported the Trump tower to exist.

The problem is that every time GMA found a peace of land in the city they take it and build on it a project. It happens all the time, and it continues.

They did this in "Rass Al-Ein" where it should have been kept as a Green park with no buildings. Other location I want to mention is Al-Abdali project, a major transportation hub being transformed to a high density use center. Moreover, many locations been spread everywhere. More about the debate regarding GMA and Al-Abdali can be found under the topic “No to Abdali project Nor to abu Ghazaleh / a different perspective.”

We need to see more green, and less traffic in the city. These two points besides others I mentioned earlier under the topic “Regarding the new GMA Interim strategy” are the most important concerns to be achieved when you develop a city. Clearly, they are environmental issues.

It's clear that the Strategy adopted by the GMA is not doing that. My suggestion is to minimize construction of new buildings and limit it to conservation and development of existing projects and start planting trees, and build a whole new modern city with the infrastructure that can give an example of modernization, call it the Business or Financial district. Mixed use locations fragmented all over the city is not the solution. It will bring Chaos and disorder which will at the end affect the quality of life and the economy of the city.

Regarding the new GAM Interim Strategy

I am not sure if any of the architects/planners did or can criticize anything. The problem of the "Tower buildings" have different dimensions.
The study for Amman plan presented by the Mayor is not comprehensive, and there are few points I would like to mention:
1) It says: " We can partner with tower investors to achieve our vision" ... you represent the government and you enforce the city plan, you don't partner. If there is a plan, it should be implemented as it is.

2) Transportation. The problem is not just transportation accessibility, it's the increase in traffic congestions. New towers in the middle of the city will increase traffic congestions.

3) Environment...to ensure and promote. This is a weak statement for a global great concern. Green architecture, sustainability needs to be on the top list of priorities of future developments and you set rules and regulations based on them. it's the future.

4) Aesthetics "...Limestone, and metal materials. Some colors like white, peige are encouraged." We have enough stone that makes the city very pale now. Stone is beautiful, but we need variety of colors and new materials. For example: use Brick with its different colors and textures and it fits the proportion of the Human being since it's size is small.

5) "...Staggering buildings on slopes protecting views." This doesn't make since at all. a) What about the views of the tower itself? b) The tower is a tower, when you build it in the city it will still block the surrounding views.

6)"... Encourage taller and thinner over wider." Again: Encourage. Means nothing.

It was suggested to FILL 3 open areas to build Tower buildings in and arround Amman and I don't agree with that. Neither of the solutions presented solved anything.
1) We still have towers in the middle of the city.
2) We will have more traffic congestions in the city.
3) No environmental, sustainability plan.

A solution I might suggest:
1) Move all of the new towers to a new area, build a new modern city for all these new towers.
2) Build more Parks, we need to see more trees and playgrounds.
3) Encourage building with new materials and colors that brings more life to the city other than limestone, and the commercial metal.

One last thing, we don't only need a city plan we need new construction building methods, and building materials in Amman thats based on studying the available resources and the economical advantage of using new building technologies.