Enjoying Amman(Apr 3 – Apr 8)

Last week was quite busy. I had a meeting at the Dutch Embassy, went to Irbid, played table tennis at the Kempinski and above all welcomed a wonderful new coworker!

First things first, I am enjoying my time in Amman so much that I decided to postpone my flight back to the Netherlands. I fly back on May 3th instead of April 24th 🙂

The week started on Monday for a change. We worked over hours during the weekend. So on Sunday, I enjoyed a small little break. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t all that perfect and we decided to head back to Amman earlier than anticipated. On Monday I also welcomed an awesome new coworker, Jenan from Bahrain 🙂 The first time I saw her in the office, she was wearing a hoodie with the emblem of the Netherlands and with Amsterdam written on it with big fat letters. A better introduction is impossible. On Monday we went to a small but famous shop in downtown Amman; the Saladin Bakery in King Hussein Street. The shop is a do-it-yourself business where you can make your own sesame bread packed with cheese triangles, za’atar, chili and eggs from the oven. It is quite cheap. For the piece I build below, I paid 1 JD (~1.40). The building process is captured in photos!

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Later that night we used the energy boost to play a FIFA-tournament. I lost :(.

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On Tuesday morning, the 4th of April, I had a meeting at the Dutch Embassy to discuss a partnership between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Innovation Lab. Officially the embassy is Dutch territory, so I expected punctual timing. Silly me. I keep forgetting I am in Jordan. Besides the small delay, the meeting went well, and I am currently arranging a visit for members of the embassy to the innovation lab. I also got invited to celebrate Kings day with my fellow Dutch in Amman at the embassy.

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On Tuesday evening I conducted a small experiment. I have been confused between Mutabal and Baba Ghanoush. In the Netherlands, Mutabal is often sold as Baba Ghanoush. So what is the difference between the two? Both of the dishes have the same main ingredient, smoky baked aubergine, but that is where the similarities end. Mutabal (right) is made with yogurt, Tahini, and Garlic. Baba Ghanoush (left) is made with tomatoes, parsley, and walnuts. I like Mutabal better, but to get it in the Netherlands you might have to order Baba Ghanoush to get the goods.

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On Wednesday I went to Irbid to visit another Innovation Lab. Irbid is different from Amman but also shares a lot of similarities. It is less international but has the same amount of trash on the streets. As I was walking through Irbid, I saw cows grazing in the distance. I decided to head over to shoot some pictures and to my surprise, they weren’t cows. I saw dromedaries!

Sidenote: When I told people I saw a dromedary they didn’t know what I was talking about. As a kid, I was taught that a dromedary has one extrusion and a Bactrian camel has two. In the Arab world, a camel has only one extrusion, that is why a dromedary is called an Arab camel. Bottomline: I saw a camel, but an Arab one.

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On Thursday, I along with some coworkers went to the Kempinski Hotel to play table tennis and bowling. Playing bowling here is quite frustrating, you have to take into account that the track is not perfectly straight. If you’ll throw the ball a perfect strike, it will end up in the gutter. It is like shooting with the airgun at the fair. You aim perfectly but still miss. After sports, we had a small rooftop party at a beautiful location overlooking the city of Amman. If you look at the skyline of Amman, one object begs for attention; the Raghadan Flagpole. It is almost 128 meters long and was officially build on 10 June 2003. At that time it was the tallest free-standing flagpole of the world. The flag itself is 60 meters long by 30 meters wide. During bad weather, they have to lower the flag because of the noise it makes! The tallest flagpole in the world right now is 170 meters long and is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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On Friday, the weekend began but unfortunately time to do some laundry. Since my host just moved into his apartment there is no washing machine yet. I was looking for a laundromat but they do not exist in Amman. People are more sensitive about washing clothes in public, so I had to come with a different solution to clean my clothes. I ended up being invited by Sabeer, a local member of AIESEC, who offered to wash my clothes. He also welcomed me in his family during lunch and took me downtown Amman to show me around a little. We ended up at a Friday night clothes market. At this place, you can find a t-shirt for 1 JD, shoes from ABIBAS or Mike etc. The funny thing is that the t-shirts are often left-over promotional t-shirts or company t-shirts out of the U.S.A. or Europe. For instance, there were t-shirts about some contest held in Minneapolis in 2007 or from a girls sorority in California or the 10-year anniversary t-shirt about some company in Germany. It was so random that it was quite funny.

On Saturday I decided to stroll downtown some more to get myself more familiar with Amman. I am proud to say that I do know my way through the hills of Amman now 🙂 It also made me go to Hashem for the second time, my favorite vegetarian restaurant in the city!

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Later that evening I tried the Shisha, also known as Argeela. We ordered a licorice taste, which was quite nice. The Shisha smoke is way easier on the lungs compared to ordinary cigarettes. The uninformed mind shisha hence might be conceived as a better option than smoking cigarettes. This is not true. Shisha smokers often inhale more smoke than cigarette smokers because of the length of time a shisha session lasts. One session can last up to an hour during which shisha smokers inhale a large amount of tobacco smoke as well as the second-hand smoke of others. A report from The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that the smoke inhaled in a typical one-hour session can equal 100 cigarettes or more.

The typical Arab Shisha goes well with a game of Jakaro. Jakaro looks like the Dutch game mens-erger-je-niet, but instead playing with dice, the Arabs play with cards. Jakaro is more fun than mens-erger-je-niet since it is not solely based on luck. It also requires some skill. However winning the game is mostly because of luck ;).

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Next week I will be taking over the Farah Al Nas radio station in Amman with some fresh tunes. A break from the Arab music that is airing normally. Tune in on Thursday at 21:00 (local time) on Farah Al Nas Radio Station (98.5 FM)!farah-nas-(2)

Sidenote: JOHUD is housed in the Princess Basma Resource Youth Centre (PBRYC). PBYRC is located at the Queen Zein Al-Sharaf Institute for Development (ZENID) and is a leading national resource center for youth issues.  Also part of the center is Farah Al Nas. Farah Al Nas is a radio station for young people and local communities, launched in July 2008 by HRH Princess Basma. The station is unique in that it is managed by young people, and it aims to give a voice to youth and act as a vehicle for them to express their opinions and to raise local issues for their communities.

The project was supported by USAID, and is hosted by the Queen Zein al Sharaf, ZENID, at the Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre, PBYRC. The Jordanian National Commission for Women JNCW is a key partner in the initiative and is responsible for steering its activities and strategy.

Farah Al Nas (which translates, joy of the people) hopes to be a dynamic way of spreading social awareness, raising issues and encouraging dialogue, and where young people and communities can have their voices heard. Broadcast on 98.5 FM, Farah Al Nas reaches most of the capital Amman, Karak, Irbid, Mafraq and the Ghor, but it seeks to have nation-wide coverage soon.