Big Brother Reality TV Comes To Jordan!

If you love the TV show, Big Brother, and if it’s been a life-long goal of yours to be a contestant on it, then I’ve got good news for all you die-hard reality TV fans; Big Brother is coming to Jordan and in the most hi-tech of manners. The better news is that every Jordanian citizen gets to be a contestant (unwillingly). Okay, so perhaps it was merely a coincidence that I posted this just the other day, but the irony, well that’s something I couldn’t have possibly orchestrated all on my own, and I have the never-ceases-to-surprise-me government to thank for that:

The Public Security Department (PSD) on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Chinese company to install closed-circuit television systems in strategic sites across Amman. The $2.6-million system will be funded through an economic cooperation grant from the Chinese government which was signed in June 2006. Under the MoU, a Chinese company will design and provide the Directorate of Public Security with an effective command and control electronic system to monitor strategic sites.

“Strategic Sites”? What does that even mean? Ministries? Government departments? Well I doubt the government would have much interest in monitoring itself (because, well, you know). And embassies and the homes of ambassadors and ministers already have them. So where does that leave us? Safeway? Bathrooms? Souq il-Abdali? Mosques? Outside the IAF headquarters?

Umm, is there anyone who’d like to even talk about privacy laws? Wait, do those things exist?

By now, dear reader, you may have already determined my stance on the issue, but it might surprise you to know that I actually think a closed-circuit Amman is a pretty cool idea.

Honestly? I wish I had the job of the guy who sits in that room with all those TV screens that play CCTV feedback all day. It would probably be the most entertaining job in the world. Plus, I would get to grow a white beard and wear a white suit and print business cards with the job title of The Architect” on them, and just freak everyone out with my emotionless face. Think of all the conversation-starters; I would definitely be the life of a party if I should ever go to a party some day.

Sigh. This sarcasm is killing me.

Also, in other news, Jordan Times strikes journalism gold by concluding this article with an explanation of CCTV, based on a Wikipedia entry:

Closed Circuit Television is the use of video cameras to transmit signals to a specific, limited set of monitors. It is often used for surveillance in areas that need monitoring such as banks, airports, military installations and convenience stores, according to

Side note: By the way, Banksy is the artist who did that earlier picture I posted and he’s done a couple with the same theme befitting of this post.

Anyways…welcome to the new world order.


  • What a great thing to import and replicate from China. What a huge step toward a progressive future, as it can only be done there. Intimidation, control, fear, uncertainty: certainly all core elements of Jordan’s bright democratic future.

  • Great, now it’s going to be impossible to take pictures throughout this country without security swarming on you in an instant.

  • doing a little reasearch …looks like more than 2400 infants die annually in Jordan before they reach the age of 1 , how many people die from terrorism in Jordan annually? 1, 2 , 20 ? Ok so who setting the priorities here? Do they have their priorities set properly? What do you think? I think its tofu…oh wait thats japanese……chow mien

  • Isn’t that what the little cameras on mini-billboards in the middle road banks already doing?
    You know, the ones in Wadi Saqra and throughout Mecca street and other places…

    If only the king and queen knew about advanced spying techniques used to monitor their citizens…
    they would immediately launch an initiative to stop it…
    and then host an international conference
    about the importance of freedom of speech and movement

  • Shoo hal paranoia ya jama3a!

    The CCTV captured images are planned to be used to recreate a Jordan in Second Life. It seems we have bought an island on SL and we are recreating the country, starting with the capital of course, trying to make it as physically realistic as possible, so that when citizens log on with their avatars, they feel at home. The objective is for every citizen to recreate a virtual/upgraded/improved version of him/herself. And to simulate the Jordan we aspire for in SL since we don’t seem to be getting the real one right at all.

    How cool is that?

  • Yaay ..we all have a chance to be on TV somewhere.

    Our government and joke of a constitution can’t establish clear guidance about what is against the law and what is the punishment AND citizens have no guarantee for legal fair due process. How will this work in Jordan? you look suspicious and you are caught on tape then you are dragged into a dungeon somewhere to be interrogated. you have no rights and no way out!! They are already doing that without watching people lasho el ba3zaga of 2.6 million?

    What are they going to watch and what are they gonna do about it? All the screw ups that happen under the government’s nose go unnoticed, unrectified and unpunished. The government never has to have evidence or reason to prosecute non suspecting civilians so what is the point of this?

  • ArabianMonkey, Second Life? So do the virtual citizens of Amman get to drive like maniacs, use wasta and litter all over the place, just like in real life?

  • I think too much fuss is made about CCTV than is necessary. I don’t see the difference between a camera on the corner of a street, and a police officer or a secret intelligence agent standing there. No one objects to the last two, so why object to the first?

    “Big Brother” didn’t just watch people in the streets. He watched and listened to them in their homes too, and that was the invasion of privacy.

    If Jordanian police and intelligence officers are going to drag “suspicious looking people” into dungeons to be interrogated, then they are probably already doing that without the need to see them on camera.

  • Oh no, no no. None of that nonsense. While you’re conceiving your avatar, the gene that makes u do those nasties is not default. You actually get a chance to be genetically void of the bad stuff. Kind of like starting from scratch with a chance at getting it right if u want…. cool, eh?

  • Well CCTV have proved to be a really good idea in countries like the UK and the rest of europe
    I’m living in Belfast which used to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world and trust me i feel a lot safer when walking in the street at night seeing a CCTV, I mean it is extremely rare for crimes to happen in an area covered by these CAMS, and as any kind of technology it is how you use it ?!
    If you put in places which are known to have high crime rates and considered to be dangerous they can prove to be useful
    but if use them to spy on people that would be different i don’t think our government our intelligence are going to be really Dependant on these cams i think they know everything in Jordan already šŸ™‚

  • Musa, you are too funny. šŸ™‚

    There is recent data suggesting that CCTV cameras do reduce crime in areas covered by them, but crime rates increase proportionally in adjacent areas. So it’s a net wash. Except that they give some people the creeps.

    Didn’t anyone else notice what I did? Citing the notoriously inaccurate Wikipedia as your source. . .oh, that is low.

  • Ah what intelligent use of artwork…. perfect! šŸ˜€ love when i see some art education going on…

  • we need some cameras at rainbow street! Some kids destroyed all the new beautiful signs and ruined the painted walls! It is a good idea to catch them on camera and punish them so that they wont do it again.

  • why dont we just plant an rfid chip and mic on every citizen while we are at it, the only thing freakier than cctv is citizens supporting it.

  • Ok, I think I have one problem with CCTV.

    I just clicked on a video that a friend had posted on their Facebook. I thought I was clicking on a funny video, but it turns out it was a video captured by apparently a traffic monitor that shows a motorcycle rider being rear ended by an 18-wheeler. The video was very gruesome and showed the last seconds of a human being’s life.

    I never understood why people like to distribute these videos. I think they carry a certain amount of disrespect for the people whose tragic deaths appear in them and to their families.

    I guess if it weren’t for this kind of technology, this particular incident wouldn’t have been used by sick individuals (and I’m not referring to my friend here coz a lot of people repost videos they receive without even watching them).

    I just don’t get it. I wonder if these people who upload these videos, and especially those who leak them out, ever ask themselves how they’d feel if the tragic death of someone they cared about was distributed widely on the internet on web sites the main purpose of which is to provide entertainment!

Your Two Piasters: