August 31, 2007

Discount Stores, Le Carrefour opening in Amman - transforming our cities:

(Le-Carrefour discount store at City Mall - photo by Emad Salameh)

Discount stores have benefits on the communities and economy, but, it also have it’s disadvantages.

When these stores opened in Amman back in the late 80’s lead by C-Town and Safeway, they had a big impact on the local businesses substituting the shopping experience from the traditional shopping of small local grocery stores Baqala and markets to bigger exported discounted stores.

One of the biggest discount stores is Le-Carrefour, like Wal-Mart and K-Mart they destroyed communities, and whipped out stores. This is accomplished through their policies of importing goods that have been produced under slave-labor conditions overseas. Often, our country gives tax incentives, for the right to be destroyed.

Discount stores reflect the deadly implementation of our country to the imperial

Rome model, and our countries existing condition. Unable to produce physical goods to sustain it’s own existence, our country, like Rome, sucks in imported goods from around the world, using the dollar, that our currency is attached to, that is over-valued by 50%-60%.

Amman has been transformed from a producer to a consumer society. Throughout the history Arabs produced new value that contributed to the mankind’s advancements. We consume goods that others produce, which discount stores markets. Discount stores dictate, through it’s demand for low prices, that it’s suppliers outsource their production to foreign nations, further ripping down our countries battered domestic manufacturing and agricultural capabilities, in a self feeding process.

related posts:

Building what and why Amman?

From an out of place architecture to an out of place identities.

"The Transformers"

August 30, 2007

Volunteer in Amman

"A volunteer is someone who serves in a community or for the benefit of natural environment primarily because they choose to do so. Many serve through a non-profit organization – sometimes referred to as formal volunteering, but a significant number also serve less formally, either individually or as part of a group. Because these informal volunteers are much harder to identify, they may not be included in research and statistics on volunteering.
By definition, a volunteer worker does not get paid or receive compensation for services rendered."

Volunteering is cultural. It’s sort of democracy, when someone participate in his community, serving the country, and working side by side with the governments, they share the responsibility as a citizen.

Volunteering can build better societies, make people love each other. Sharing common causes and interests, and filling the free time with useful activities. Volunteering make you an active part of the city, shaping it and participating in it’s development.

Unfortunately, I don’t see it active in our culture. Why? Can we start thinking about considering it as part of our culture?

How to volunteer?

We can start this campaign by creating a weekly list of volunteering opportunities in Jordan. Send us an e-mail and we will distribute it to the members and post it on regular basics. We can use this website

Related posts:

SMILE, LAUGH, SING, and DANCE in Amman City

The first in Jordan

Promoting for transportation alternatives and bicycle lanes in Amman City

Type rest of the post here

August 28, 2007

Jordan Gate

The traffic and parking congestions at the streets servicing the location of Jordan gate,
photo by Emad Salameh

The latest regarding the Jordan Gate towers:
  1. It's going up to 44 floors.
  2. The GAM were a partner but the current administration, lead by mayor Maani, withdrew from it due to the challenges to GAM and the "inappropriate" location.
  3. +50 applications for building towers in AMMAN.
Do you think that the GAM new administration could have done more than withdrawing from the project and sell their shares, since they knew the challenges and it's inappropriateness???
AMMAN - With the completion of the 34th floor of one of the under-construction Jordan Gate twin towers, the building is officially the tallest in Jordan now. The building, which weeks ago broke the 31-floor record set by Le Royal Hotel on the 3rd Circle, is planned to go up to 44 floors to become a landmark visible from every corner of the capital. The two towers of the $300 million project will be connected by a multistorey podium. An official supervising the construction said that a total of 60 civil engineers and 1,200 workers are working on the project, 70 per cent of whom are Jordanians.
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Related Post:
implemented by the Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House (GFH), the project started in 2005 as a strategic partnership with the Kuwait Investment and Finance Company and the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), which initially contributed the 28,500 square metres land before it withdrew from the partnership. Sharjah-based Al Hamad Construction and Development Company is the contractor. His Majesty King Abdullah on May 29, 2005 laid the foundation stone for the Jordan Gate project, the first phase of the $1 billion GFH’s Royal Metropolis plan. Jordan Gate will house executive offices, conference facilities, a five-star hotel and an array of retail outlets. But work has not progressed smoothly as hoped. In September 2006, work on the project was halted, when three stories of the north tower collapsed, killing four workers and injuring 15 others. A month earlier, a fire broke out in the 8th storey of the north tower, causing no fatalities or injuries. In September last year, GAM Mayor Omar Maani suspended works in the Jordan Gate project, citing the fact that the project started without proper licensing. Later, the municipality withdrew from the partnership and sold its 10 per cent stake to Kuwaiti Bayan Holding Company, which paid JD10.5 million for the shares. Maani said the project posed challenges to GAM, including its “inappropriate” location in the 6th Circle area, which was approved by the previous administration of GAM. The official from the Jordan Gate said that work is going ahead of schedule, despite the mishaps. He said that currently, the skeleton phase of a storey needs five days to be completed. The building will remain the only one in its category located in this part of Amman. GAM in February limited the construction of high-rises to four areas in the capital. The 6th Circle neighbourhood was excluded. Investors can choose from Abdali, Abdoun, Jubeiha and the airport road. The locations were identified as part of the first phase of GAM’s Amman Master Plan.
Road capacity, infrastructure, preservation of heritage, maintaining green areas and creating suitable spaces for pedestrians were the major considerations when the areas were selected. Last week, Dubai Construction Company announced that work began in its 34-storey Vertex Tower. So far, GAM has received more than 50 applications for towers to be built in the designated areas, according to GAM officials. Jordan Times 28 August 2007

August 25, 2007

Building what and why Amman?

I was wondering for the past few days about something I don't understand regarding the real estate construction boom in Amman and the future. I talked before about the effect of arts and architecture on shaping the identity of the societies in my previous post From an out of place architecture to an out of place identities. but my question is:"What and WHY?."

What kind of services will Amman have in these projects? Other than attracting real estate developers to build houses, offices, hotels and resorts. If we study the service and manufacturing industries and make a comparative advantage with other countries do we find any services that we might be better serve or produce?

Shouldn't we benchmark the services and products that we can produce here in Jordan to use our scarce resources of land and people that gives us more advantage and success over other countries in the region and the world?

What if manufacturing, which is not taking that much attention, is the sector that we need to focus on! or maybe farming! or fishing, no we don't have much sea here, or..or...

The investors that we are attracting are developers who are only interested in money by building and selling to other developers who will also sell to others. We thought that they will bring more jobs to our country but obviously they are outsourcing all their labors, materials, and operations from other resources in other countries.

Instead of bringing investors giving them all these incentives shouldn't we first give more incentives to the citizens, giving them jobs and supporting their businesses! How much we did to support the Local businesses? Will these investors participate in the development of our country? who have the power here: the citizens, the government, or the investors? I am afraid that we will end up being slaves working to foreign companies in our own country. Do we really want to build another little Dubai here? "that will be another subject to talk about: Why Dubai? "

The scarcity of resources in this country and the fierce competition in the emerging global markets requires from us to think million times about what shall we focus on?

Finally, we ask ourselves: are we building local and thinking global? or the other way.

GAM to launch private radio station

The great efforts from the GAM continues to impress us with a new service promoting for a two way communication to reach the citizens. The new GAM Radio Station is a community media that will, with no doubt, participate in the development of the political and social development of our community. This is a new initiative to reach the citizens who needs to be taught the importance of participation in Amman city development.

AMMAN - The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) announced on Thursday that it will launch a private radio station in an effort to establish a dialogue with the capital’s residents.
The station will focus on GAM affairs, by “announcing the municipality’s objectives behind each project it implements”, according to the GAM press centre.
The station will keep Amman residents up-to-date with the municipality’s latest news and events throughout the city, the center added.
According to GAM Press Center Director Taha Abu Redin, the radio station will provide GAM with the public’s feedback on each of its projects, municipal activities and services. As a public service organisation, GAM believes in the importance of two-way communication with the residents of the capital, which is the “base of success”, the center said. The station will broadcast several programmes tailored to listeners within the greater Amman area, which now covers 1,680 square meters.
One of its main features will be live talk shows that focus on the problems and difficulties facing the capital’s residents. The station will be based at GAM headquarters in Ras Al Ain. Any plans for expansion will depend on its success in its first year. The station will start broadcasting by mid-November, according to a GAM source. 24 August 2007

August 22, 2007

GAM to construct complex for public firms in Amman

Amman Mayor Eng. Omar Maani on Monday announced that the government in cooperation with the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) would construct a complex to gather all the public firms in the city center in one location. He added during a meeting with Luaibdeh district residents this week that this project would take three years from the starting day. Meanwhile, the Mayor said that GAM will work in transforming the Abdali Bus Terminal to a public park and library for the use of the residents of the area. He told the citizens that GAM study the possibility to restrict the Baouneh Street for pedestrians only, and to renovate the parks there. The residents announced the launch of a campaign to preserve green spaces and to clean the area. “GAM has relocated almost 10,000 trees were on the sidewalks of the streets distracting the pedestrians from using such areas to walk on,” he said. He also explained the new numbering system of the commercial streets and its benefits noting that “GAM has implemented the project in high quality,” and that this project would benefit the citizens and safe their time, Meanwhile, GAM has already removed 1,000 advertisement boards that are against the new regulations, which has been enforced this year, the Mayor said. GAM also finalized the layouts for the construction of the its employees club noting that work in the project would start next month.

Not sure where is the Location? If it's Ras El-Ein, what about traffic and transportation? Environment? Even this comes late since most of the "Public Buildings" were been recently constructed. Will the plan force the ministries and different public buildings to transfer?

Related Posts:

Promoting for transportation alternatives and bicycle lanes in Amman City
Regarding new GAM interim strategy
We need Amman to be environmentaly sustainable and green
GAM announced that the deadline to remove Billboards covering buildings is 30th August. Do you agree or disagree?
Amman City Streets
Al-Wakalat Street opened as the First pedestrian street in Amman City

The buildings regulations for all the proposed uses of lands

The Master Plan team presented the buildings regulations for all the proposed uses of lands on the main 10 corridors, which was announced on June, to the engineering offices and companies. The master plan director Eng. Samir Sobhi said during a discussion session held in GAM this week that “this session is part of GAM’s attempt to receive feedback from the engineering offices and the construction sector on its plans and in this particular issue,” The main corridors which have been announced by GAM were; Queen Rania, Prince Shakir Ben Zaid, Arrar, Zahran, Sherif Hussein Ben Ali, Kindi, Abdullah Qousheh King Abdullah, Mecca and Airport roads.

What will be the feedback from the engineering offices and the construction sector? Will it be taken into consideration from the GAM?

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August 17, 2007

SMILE, LAUGH, SING, and DANCE in Amman City

In physiology, a smile is a facial expression formed by flexing the muscles most notably near both ends of the mouth. The smile can be also around the eyes. Among humans, it's customarily an expression of pleasure, happiness, or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety, in which case it can be known as a grimace. There is much evidence that smiling is a normal reaction to certain stimuli and occurs regardless of culture. Happiness most often causes the smile to occur, though. Among animals, the exposure of teeth, which may bear a resemblance to a smile, are often used as a threat - known as a snarl - or a sign of submission. In chimpanzees, it can be a sign of fear.

So do we SMILE enough? Why not?
I noticed once I don't smile enough and it makes me look and feel serious even when I am not, and it reflects on my general mood. It's a facial impression that sometimes you don't realize how it reflects positioning yourself to others, and reflects on your general mood. I knew it's wrong so I decided to smile. But how? Call me a wacko but I started to smile as much as i can even while I am alone and for no reason, try to smile now for no reason, how do you feel. Smiling is a habit that you can control and develop, since it's related to muscles practicing smiling will make you easily smile, even sometimes involuntary.

I do the same when I Sing, Laugh, and Dance ...

Next time when you see me smiling for no reason don't worry I am not weired I am just practicing to SMILE.

August 14, 2007

Kuwait firm wins Jordan taxi deal

Financial investment company Noor has won a tender to provide a new taxi service in Jordan, Kuwait Times reported yesterday.
The joint Kuwaiti and Jordanian firm is a branch of the Kuwait-based Noor Financial Investment Company. Ayad Rashad, head of its Jordan branch told KUNA the contract would pave the way for the official launch in less than six months.
According to Rashad, the company will pay $4.2 million for a 400-strong fleet of vehicles, plus $948k for the government as lease for the project each year.

Don't we have enough cars and traffic. Do you think by adding another 400 taxis will help in solving the booming congestions and transportation problems in Amman city? Don't you think that instead of adding more cars we need to promote for Transportation Alternatives in Amman? or Build a Railway?

Related Posts
Amman Mini-Metro from the 1st circle to the 8th circle?
Promoting for transportation alternatives and bicycle lanes in Amman City

The system will use the latest communications technology, he said, with the ability to trace cab journeys as far back as three months in order to deal with any quality issues.

Rashad also said the Noor company owned 10 percent of the Jordanian Etisalat company, with the stake likely to rise to $21.65 percent soon.

The first in Jordan

We are proud to host the First Meetup group in Amman. This group is designed for people (entrepreneurs, web entrepreneurs, web enthusiasts) in JORDAN and the Arabic world who want to start a business and are looking for business partners, employees, investors, potential clients, or to share ideas. Communicate with other enthusiasts to discuss and show-and-tell new business ideas in Jordan and the Arabic world. If you're interested in both learning and/or discussing the latest business trends, please join us! This is the perfect group for you! **** Note: This is a peer group. You are welcome to write and share what you have to offer to your peers, but this group is not for anybody. We need to moderate the members and the posts.

Next Meetup

The Amman September Meetup
Tuesday, September 4 at 7:00 PM

Informal networking opportunities for people who want to network, socialize, make new friends or business partners.
Social: Make new friends and share common interests.
Business: Make business partners, employees, investors, potential clients or present your business.
Pitch your Ideas, Make partnerships, meet investors, get inspiration and advise from other peers.
Educational: Learn about latest technology trends, or business tips.
OR just Chill with us. If you have any suggestions, please post them on the message board or send me an e-mail.

August 11, 2007


Counterpoint — Art exhibition by Yaser Dweik, Nasr Abdul Aziz, Mahmud Taha andKeram Nimri at Orafali Art Gallery. Until August 11. Tel: 552 6932

Exhibition by Abdulqader Bakhet at Dar Al Anda. Until August 16. Tel: 079-555 75 70

Agroup exhibition featuring works of local and international artists atCanvas Cafe, Restaurant and Art Lounge. Until August 22. Tel: 462 7664

An exhibition featuring artists from the developing world, from the permanent collection of The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Jabal Luweibdeh. Tel: 463 0128

Smoking in Public

We usually immitate the west and especially the US in everything we put our eyes on. From music, clothes, habits, looks, etc. This selective immitation happens out of ignorance most of the time. Since most of us never step a foot on the US land we watch TV to feed our minds and get our cultural dinner. We all know the reason, first it's our ignorance and second the editorial Media, our media and the US media.

The US have been promoting for anti-smoking campaigns in public places in most of it's states. Smoking in restaurants, parks, clubs, coffee shops, offices, museums, or any indoor or public closed space is prohibited. We all know the danger of smoking to our health and the environment and I am not gonna list them here.

What about the coffee shops serving argellieh? I am not asking for closing them. Some cities in the region like Riyhad prohibited argilleh inside the city where you must drive about 30 min. to find a coffee shop that serves arghelleah.

We need to prohibit smoking in publis spaces, and inside buildings to protect our health, and protect our city clean environment.

This is a social environmental responsibility that we need to work together to maximiza the impact of the campaigns prohibiting smoking.

Weightlifter backs campaign to kick tobacco out of Jordanian sport, Jordan Times & Smokefree America - National anti-tobacco group
ASH - Action on Smoking and Health UK

August 9, 2007


It was wonderful being back in Jordan. The people are still exceptionally warm and hospitable and there is no comparison to this anywhere in the world.

Amman has not only grown in size, but has also become fast-paced and will soon be, if not already, a top, thriving city.

Despite this, the driving conditions are unacceptable. This is where the generosity of the people ends. Speeding, recklessness, selfishness are just a few attributes of the average driver in Amman.

The fact that an accident happens every few seconds should be an eye-opener (last year, Jordan experienced over 800,000 road accidents).

The Ministry of Transport must swiftly set up a system of ticketing reckless drivers. Speed must also be monitored and more speed bumps added wherever needed. Lights should also mark merging lanes.

It may take some time, but it can be done.

Since Jordan is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, not only when it comes to birthrates but also to the number of visitors from other countries, I’m sure this presents a challenge that can be tackled.

Kelly Abu Azzam, US Jordan Times

August 7, 2007

3 million visitors registered between January, June

AMMAN — Visitor numbers continued to grow during the first six months of this year, with tourist arrivals 13.8 per cent higher than the same period of 2006, official figures revealed Saturday.

Preliminary figures released by the Ministry of Tourism indicated that around 3 million tourists visited the country between January and June, compared to 2.633 million during the same period of last year.

Tourism revenues also rose 20.6 per cent, from JD470.8 million in 2006 to JD567.8 million this year, the Central Bank of Jordan reported.

Tourists from Arab and Gulf countries formed the bulk of arrivals, rising 9.4 per cent to 844,441 visitors between January and June this year compared to 772,032 visitors in the same period of 2006.

They accounted for 55 per cent of all overnight visitors to the Kingdom during the first six months of this year.

Visitors from the Gulf were followed by those from European countries, an increase of 39 per cent, reaching 268,933 tourists compared to 193,458 in 2006.

Arrivals from the Americas rose by 13 per cent in the same comparative period — from 71,681 to 81,000.

Meanwhile, tourists from East Asia and the Pacific shot up by 20 per cent, from 36,705 to 44,095, while arrivals from South Asia rose 18 per cent, from 18,835 to 22,214.

These figures included both same-day and overnight visitors, with the latter totalling 1.5 million– a number that rose 12.8 per cent from 1.3 million tourists in the same period of 2006.

The number of same-day visitors increased by nearly 15 per cent to 1.487 million from 1.294 million last year.

Figures for arrivals on package tours, which were only available for the first five months of this year, showed a slight rise of 3.2 per cent, from 132,914 travelers last year, to 137,186 this year.

Nearly half the overnight stays were in Amman, with 118,159 tourists staying in the capital for at least two nights and almost 25 per cent, or 75,355 visitors, spending an average of two nights in Petra.

A total of 30,904 tourists spent the night in Aqaba and 24,385 at the Dead Sea, accounting for around 11 per cent of arrivals on package tours.

Jordan Times

August 4, 2007

From an Out of Place societies to an Out of Place Identities

Dubai Dancing Towers model presented at the Guggenheim Museum in NY
Photo by Emad Salameh
I prefer to be realistic, and I want to keep positive. I don't see any famous global architectural firm or building technology that comes from the middle east. CCC are contractors working for Oil companies "with Headquarters in Greece". Zaha Hadid is Iraqi who worked and practice in London. Meanwhile, working for others is what we are good at for sure. On the other hand, the world pioneers comes from a minority group of %1 of the world population: Richard Meier, Frank Gehry, Daniel Lebskind, Peter Eisenman, etc... are all Jews who designed and built environments that reflects their believes and ideas.

I am not negative or criticizing I am defending our out of place architects , who end up working for other global companies or in other countries to design for other societies, whom became another kind of aliens.

In our lands we see alien buildings built by aliens "architects and developers" building the future of our societies, being out of place.

We need to answer this question: Do we have any Building Materials or Building Technology company from the middle east?

I looked into the specifications of major projects and realized that %99.9 were Foreign companies.

So, lets try to think about building our own technology and manufacture our own products instead of competing for the largest or the longest and building the Sea.

August 3, 2007

From an out of place architecture to an out of place identities.

We shall not forget that the Arts (Architecture, interior, music, painting, etc) are reflections of the societies. Our societies didn't produce those buildings and they can't compete to produce them. We just, with our money, bought these alien designs. The "under construction" projects in the Arabic world "and not only the Gulf" are out of place, and we can't say that the architects failed to compete. They are part of the equation and local companies don't have that competative advantage. Filling the gap between the academic and profession is always important but not enough. We are losing our identity in The Arts because we are rejecting our identities and adopting the western capitalistic idiologies. The architecture in the Arabic world is becoming more and more "Out of Place," and will refelct this in the furture of our societies identity. An "Out of Identity, out of Place" societies.
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