Was The Jerash Festival Replaced With The Jordan Festival?

For over 27 years, the Jerash Festival, lead by Queen Noor, was the Kingdom’s central cultural event. In 27 years it was canceled a total of three times: in 1982 during the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon and in 2006, due to the Israeli-Hizballah conflict in Lebanon. I’m not sure if the cancellation was out of respect for Lebanon or due to the fact that at least half of the performers in the festival are from Lebanon. In any case, this third cancellation seems to be due to, well, nothing really:

Countering “misinterpretation” by the local media of a recent controversial decision to hold Jerash Festival as only one component of the larger Jordan Festival, Bakir insisted the government had no intention to abolish the festival…

…The Jordan Festival will only serve as an umbrella for all summer cultural activities in various parts of the country, including the 27-year-old Jerash Festival, the minister explained.

But “due to the shortage of time”, cultural activities to be held in Jerash this season will be minimal, as part of what she called “edition zero” of Jordan Festival.

“There will be no Jerash Festival this year, but cultural activities and musical concerts will be performed in the ancient city as part of the Jordan Festival’s concept,” she explained [source]

Has the Jerash Festival been co-opted by a bigger and better festival? And even if the two festivals were to go on existing in the years to come, wouldn’t that be redundant? Having one festival in July and another in August, both of which overlap and both of which have pretty much the same types of artists and the same names? Won’t there be a preference for the Jordan festival leading to the death of the Jerash festival?

Granted, the Jerash festival is something that requires some desperate revamping but to cancel or co-opt it once and for all?

I suppose the real question I suppose is: does this cultural move feel just a teeny, weeny, bit political?

Because it would be a shame to play politics with something that has been established as tradition in the Kingdom…

In any case, the Jordan Festival, which starts next month, will have a few international stars that might spark the interests of some. Jazz sensation, Diana Krall will preform as will, opera king Placido Domingo, as well as David Lynch, whose movies I have yet to understand, and the Lebanese artist Mika, who has written some of the most terribly annoying songs that have plagued local radio for the past 2 years including Relax, Take it Easy and Lollipop.


  • Mein rant on the damned C word! Culture.

    To cultivate. To create and produce, as well as the process in which this happens. Culture is about creation and lifestyle and mindstyle and spiritstyle. It is alive and ever evolving.

    Apparently the patron and board of Jarash Fest resigned the festival to begin with. This was not communicated publicly for whatever reason. When a new fest was announced, it appeared to everyone that one replaced the other. Jarash has been an ailing project for years. The physical presence of the Jarash fest often extended to Amman holding some related activities in the capital.
    I’ve tried to do Jarash over and over and it’s been a miserable experience. I’ve taken work visitors, and it’s been a lousy experience for them too. The ‘merchants’ who get dragged in to lay out their wares for the passersby, try to sell bad knick knacks, and anything but artistic or cultural stuff. The sponsors are harder to find since it’s a lame experience and they don’t get much in return. Walking around Jarash during the fest I don’t feel culture. I did/do feel the historical awe and heritage of walking on the ground/leaning on a columns of Jarash as a city – that incredible antiquity ( but this is no thanks to the festival)!

    I’ve had such hopeless and sorry experiences at the Jarash fest, that I’m devoid of any emotional bond towards it’s legacy and won’t be tattooing Jarash Awalan on my forehead at all! What was once upon a time created out of the true essence of a cultural vision, got so run down over the years, that it appears that nobody remembers what it’s all about anymore. Good bye- everything has an expiration date. It seems anyone who’s supported the fest has been doing so out of pity and out of the fact that it’s been around for so long, so we’ve got to. This is stupid, dangerous, and simply useless. Coz nobody wins. And that which you are carrying becomes a huge burden – that damned downward spiral again.

    And the real loser is culture.

    Culture = to cultivate. This Jarash/Jordan fest useless emotional distraction has very little to do with cultivating anything. Also, event organization is far from creation. These festivals are treated as such. Events – which is fine is they were positioned as events, but no, the stigma drives us to misleadingly label them under culture . Sadly, the people who oversee them are not cultural workers, nor curators, nor cultural investors, and probably not even culture consumers. They’re just operational people who feel the need to do activities for a photo op and so that they say, ‘see me, I’m doing a job, click here to thank me now pls’.

    If this new Jordan Fest was truly the result of a created, curated, designed, soulful effort, it would have a theme and vibe that screams out at you, getting under your skin, flowing in your veins, keeping you restless until you secured your tickets to be part of it, because you’re aching to be part of that cultural creation that magnetically flirts with you and makes you feel great. It would make you want to give as well as take.


    This Jordan fest/abolish Jarash fest fiasco that has irked people’s emotions is the result of lack of communication (shocking) on behalf of the Min of Culture, and the bad practice of not being upfront and transparent about things. To look at it simplistically, the Jordan Fest program could’ve been implemented under the Jarash Fest brand, with a whole new spirit and organizational effort and everyone would’ve been happy. Plus I think from a communication perspective, Jarash as a brand works so much better than Jordan for this specifically. Announcing that Jarash will be back next year or whenever is an afterthought. It’s a half baked, panic stricken reaction with probably no vision – but hey – we got a whole year to figure that one out and find a patch for the press release next year.

    Unfortunately some of our ministries have such a complex that they are unable to think about real creative solutions where everyone wins. They feel compelled to claim that they launched smtg new to tag their name to it. They fail to see forward and imagine different scenarios so as to choose what really works for the country, community and not for their insecurities and personal resumes during their term as public servants.

    Specifically on culture and on a national level, we are truly pathetic. It’s the bastard concept that we are so uncomfortable with. Is our culture about old folk and bedouin? What is really Jordanian? Who is allowed to represent the rest of us?? Is it Jordanian culture, or culture from Jordan? Is culture about the next monumental erection – who cares if there are no curators to run it! etc, etc, etc… We are not comfortable with ourselves. We are not comfortable with our diversity. We are not comfortable with our cultural evolution. We are yet to really embrace creation/making/producing/distributing/living our culture and the science of it and the moral fabric that is essential to it. Instead we fumble around with events (or buildings). Which are nice to have, but so far away from culture.

    There are of course evolving cultural icons, makers, consumers who are doing their thing, doing it well – these are workers far away from the public sector, creating mini revolutions in the nooks and crannies around the country – thankfully.

    I’m looking forward to Krall, Domingo and Lynch. Ok fine, and Abdullah Rweished.

  • I can’t believe that Mika is coming to Jordan!!!!! It’s really gr8 that a celeb. singer is coming to perform in Jordan, FINALLY! Mika had huge hits this year, like Lollipop, but i gotta say, that that’s the only song I like. Anywayz, i’m CIRCASSIAN (and proud of it), so i’m really excited to watch circassian and shishan dance troup perform this year, it’s gonna be so exciting!!

  • woww!! 3anjad 7ilweh Jordan I like it ! it’s the best arabian country ever , ana zoret jordan ta2reeban 3 times w wala marra zhi2et minha , ya3ni a7la banat o a7la shabab hunak hehehe :p !!
    ba3dein il sha3b hunakeh shu nice , w il Malls shu nice Zay Mecca Mall o City Mall o il manate2 shu nice zay Sweifeih W Abdoun!!

  • 3aa rassii jordan weli 3mel jordaan ..
    best festival ever without even visiting it !!
    Always remember ” JORDAN FIRST” 😉
    2ordonii o 2ft5er o 2eli mish 3ajbo yenta7er o yktob 3a gabro motit men 2el gahar!!

  • Do you happen to know if any of the two festivals (the Jordan Festival or the Jerash Festival) or maybe both will be held this year?

    Thank you!

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