Local News Bits Of The Moment

April was a rather inactive month in Jordan, but things seem to be turning around as we enter May. Looking through the papers recently, air bubbles gradually fill above my head, and I thought this would be a reasonable space to share them all before they burst.

– First off, if you don’t know about the Amman Tech Tuesday event by now then you’ve been living under a rock. It seems set to defy the traditional IT sector conferences in the region, and specifically in Jordan, which is typically filled with power-suits and deathly boring panels. Instead, this is a shorter gathering of like-minded people for 3 hours on a Tuesday night, in a self-described “unconference”. My only reservation is that for the majority of that time they have three people speaking, each taking up between 30 minutes to 1 hour. The last time I sat through a 1 hour session I think I was in college. Anyways, interesting people will be there since it is the first of many planned events, so I encourage you to go. I’d be interested to hear the feedback of those who attended.

– Speaking of the electronic world, yet another news site has been launched in Jordan – you know, because there’s just so much news in the country and a market filled with unlimited advertising budgets. HKJ Today isn’t really all too different from other news sites, except that it seems to be much more nationalistic than say, Ammon. By nationalistic, this includes “everything is great” news reports, and poems dedicated to the Crown Prince Hussein. The site seems to have a connection to Al-Ghad, which has been notoriously at odds with Ammon News these past two months. I’m wondering the obvious: the government connection.

– HM Queen Rania was on The View a few days ago introducing her new children’s book. Al Ghad reported that she read the book, The Sandwich Swap, at a school in Chicago. You can buy the book for $9.93 at Amazon, or, for a bargain, buy it with How To Potty Train Your Monster for only $14.94 – you just can’t beat that price. The book is actually written by Kelly Dipuchio. On another note, is it just me or do most of Queen Rania’s appearances outside the Kingdom fly under the radar at home? Maybe it’s just me.

During her appearance on The View, Queen Rania talked quite a bit about gender equality in education – elegantly sidestepping a comment by Barbra Walters who noted it was a particularly important issue in our “part of the world”. There are probably more girls in schools than boys here in Jordan (or at least, last I checked) – but what happens after they graduate is a different story all together.

Favorite question of the episode: “Do women in Jordan wear burkas?” [said with a straight face]

– Interesting study released on Labor Day claims that 85% of wage-earning Jordanians make less than 300JDs a month. How anyone is able to live off that figure simply baffles me.

– Speaking of labor issues, GAM launched a pretty interesting initiative asking Amman residents to help grant GAM sanitation workers a day off by not disposing of their garbage on Friday. This is a pretty decent move by the GAM, however, I’m wondering why these guys don’t get a day off in the first place as part of their basic job “rights”? Secondly, I’m not sure if GAM is enforcing this new policy regardless of the on-the-ground experience, or not. For some reason, I am doubtful that many Ammanis will respond to the call, so I’m hoping that doesn’t mean the workers’ day off is retracted after a few months of garbage pile ups. Moreover, this further calls attention to the fact that our sanitation system really needs to be modernized, and an environmental conscience needs to be raised. I’m sick and tired of people throwing garbage out of their cars while driving. I saw three such incidents last week alone.

– Something to look forward to this month.

– Hilarious news out of Aqaba – or not so hilarious depending on how you look at life. Two articles, with two headlines depicting opposing views: “ASEZA highlights successful investments at Aqaba forum” – and – “Gov’t absence ‘jeopardises investment deals’ at key event”. Apparently, some big investors just went home after finding no one from the government to sign their agreements. But the event was still a success.


  • Nas With all due respec “The Sandwich Swap”?or ” مقايضة ساندويتش”? cmon Nas, this is as shallow as it gets ,are you trying to market a book that is not only as shallow and has no substance whatsoever but it is misleading to any beginners be it children or adults, who want to understand the underlying cause and effect of the relationship between the Arab world and United State.
    This is one comment i wrote on ABC network.

  • @TFJ: take it easy. i’m not marketing anything. im just talking about a few things that caught my eye these past few days.

    also, it’s a kids book. ya3ni, take it easy. one can not logically expect a 6 year old to have gained insight in to the underlying causes and effects of the relationship between the Arab world and the US after reading this book.

    again, it’s a kids book. move on. there are more pressing issues to deal with. like labor for instance.

  • The morale of the story is that a hummus sandwich can be as good as a PB&J sandwich. Anyways, we got some left over hummus from last night, so I am gonna go make one hell of hummus sandwich with sha66a.

    On a side note, the radar you talk about has been dismantled but this doesn’t mean that people don’t look for news. The hiding of this kind of culturally incompatible “news” is a not PR Achievement on their part. As a matter of fact it fuels gossip and make many efforts look insincere at best. Oh, and by the way if you hide news, people will be more inclined to look for it. As Such..oh well..

  • Actually the book’s idea is a bit bigger than you might think @The Free Jordanian. It’s about accepting others and discovering new things. Imagine that when you were a kid, a sandwich caught your eyes but you found it appalling and strange because, for example, it had a strange color. Now you swap your usual sandwich with that strange one and surprisingly, you find it magnificent and tasty. This is the idea. Some people find, for example, different race/color/nationalities(like us Arabs) appalling but when they meet us, they will change their perception. This is actually the idea of the book and I find it very big and important to be honest. If kids can understand this idea through this book, then its a job well done by the queen.

    @Nas One thing I ALWAYS criticize our king and queen for is that they RARELY have any appearances in Jordan. I mean look I’ve never heard of the king or queen visiting our universities or maybe do a couple of interviews with a local newspaper. Now how many times have they done that abroad? They have visited like all the universities outside and have been interviewed countless of times by every single famous newspaper/talk show.

    But WHY? Are we not worth their time? I am really wondering about that..

  • @mohanned: i’m not sure people really “look” for news these days. it usually looks for them.

    @yanal: i have to disagree slightly. when the king and queen are in town they are plastered all over the front pages of the daily papers. every day there is a story of all the places they visited and people they shook hands with and meetings they attended and initiatives they’ve launched. from a media development perspective this is obviously detrimental as it makes every newspaper in jordan look like a royal court press release. but nevertheless, the activities are widely reported.

Your Two Piasters: