Amman: The Open City

I thought this was an interesting editorial today in the Jordan Times. In light of recent events in the region it kind of reminded me of what it means to say “We Are All Jordan”.

With its own people who work or study abroad coming back for the holidays, drugstore and with tens of thousands of Arab tourists, cheap mainly from the Gulf, enjoying a variety of attractions and the milder temperatures, Amman is usually crowded in the summer.

This summer, however, Amman is getting more crowded than usual.

Iraqis have been crossing into Jordan in increasingly high numbers, escaping the insanity of sectarian violence at home. In some neighbourhoods, from Dahiyat Rashid to Rabia, the Iraqi dialect is almost more common than the Jordanian.

Sunnis, Shiites, Christians have all come here in search of normalcy and hope. Amman is the place where they try to put their shattered lives back together, where they mourn loved ones, where they start thinking of a new beginning, where they try to reinvent a normal life for their children, at least for a short while. Over the past few days, expatriate workers from Lebanon and Gaza are being temporarily relocated in Amman by the thousands. It promises to be a colourful, most welcome, friendly, little invasion.

Some Lebanese are also starting to flee the fury of Israelâ??s state terrorism, which no longer seems to be ending that soon, and are arriving here. We cannot offer the Lebanese the glamour, the delicacies, the greenery and the natural beauty they have at home. But we can offer them peace.

At these particularly tragic times for the region, Amman is once again called upon to serve as a welcoming oasis of peace and stability in an ever-tormented neighbourhood. And Ammanâ??s vocation must be its peopleâ??s vocation, too. Unfortunately, more or less openly, a few dangerous arguments are finding their way in our midst.

True, all these unexpected guests are undeniably putting some strain on our already struggling infrastructures. True, traffic is becoming unbearable. True, rents are on the rise. True also â?? as a growing number of disgruntled Iraqi guests emphasises â?? all these visitors are bringing business and money.

What is not true is that welcoming those who flee violence and providing shelter to the victims of terrorism and brutality will undermine our identity. Maintaining our identity means first of all being true to our heritage of tolerance, respect and hospitality.


  • It really is unfortunate, what’s happening in the Middle East. My sympathy goes out to these people, and also to the Israeli people, as they had to suffer daily rocket attacks.

  • I was directed to this site because I am on an email list for the local community radio station ( – check out True Talk on alternate Fridays) where I am a volunteer. Someone had found the posting of Comedy Central’s skit about the measured response of Israel.
    I found this article to be much more illuminating.
    It brings to mind when I was younger and we occaisionally received visits from people from Northern Ireland. Many young men, in particular, but also families moved out of Ireland to avoid the “Troubles” in the North.
    My father is part of a choir called Cor Cochion Caerdydd – The Cardiff Red Choir. He was fortunate enough to tour palestine and learned to sing some Palestinian Songs. I live in America and the real tradgedy here is that, through lack of exposure to the reality of the middle east and its people, they have a very caricatured image of arabs and other middle eastern peoples (they tend to lump them all together). We are lucky in this community, Tampa Florida to have a strong and independent radio station where people of all backgrounds have a voice. This is even to the extent that we have an Arab Talk show and a Jewish Music and current affairs show – all broadcast from the same building.

    I wish you all joy and peace and know that, through community and love and support, the righteous will be justified. We are trying to do it here in America – keep doing what you are doing over there and all will be well.

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