Jordan has always fascinated me as an outsider. Every soundbite you get seems like a radical contradiction to the one before: A bilingual, globalized, tech savvy, highly educated, business oriented crowd responsible for some of the most successful Arab companies contrasts with a traditionalist, tribal culture notorious for one of the most archaic honor killing laws in the region. I decided to go see for myself, in hopes of understanding who our southern neighbors really are, the image of Jordan.
Amman is a wonderful, vibrant place. You get the feeling that it has been going full speed ahead ever since conception, and shows no signs of stopping soon. At least four neighborhoods were described to me as the “it” place, usually with the sentence structure ” Well it used to be that other neighborhood five years ago, but it’s here now”. It feels fresh, polished. I fell in love with the youth culture: aware, opinionated, politically correct, creative, connected, aspirational, with direction. You feel it first online, with the sheer number of successful blogs, the tweeting public figures. But when you go there, you see it on the ground as well, the kids of West Amman may be the first in the region to have a significant voice.
To put it another way, if youth culture Damascus is the slacker kid who can’t care less about grades and barely passes all his tests because he’s an expert of microscopic handwriting…
and youth culture Beirut is the high school sweetheart who had amazing potential but got a serious crack addiction at some point and now everybody is wondering if she’ll ever go clean again
Then this is what youth culture Amman looks like:
Jordan has invested so much in this group. It has provided them with a world class education, an amazing economic environment, and a foreign policy that works to their benefit. It now expects this group to start getting jobs locally and globally, and to form the core that Jordanian society thrives on.
Yet therein lies the problem. West Amman is not the core of Jordan. It’s a fringe, a segment at best. Too much resources are being spent on this one group, too much focus is only on them. Too many other groups are excluded. Ask yourself, during the last fifty years in which Jordan enjoyed steady financial and cultural growth, how much did the tribes socially change? How many refugee families got into a better financial state? Even East Amman, or the non-touristic cities, towns… are they in touch with the rainbow street culture?