The crowd is the event: Amman’s youth celebrating new year on Abdoun circle

11:45 pm, 31 December 2004: It was an amazing scene. A few thousand young men (almost no women in sight!) gathered on Amman’s Abdoun roundabout (or ‘Circle’ as we call it), chanting, shouting, clapping.. While Amman’s well-to-do where celebrating the arrival of 2005 in upscale bars, restaurants and clubs in the Abdoun circle area, these young men obviously just wanted to be in a ‘cool place’ to welcome the new year.

Arriving on foot from a few hundreds meters away, my two companions and I saw that the crowd was centered on some kind of event. Moving closer we discovered that in the middle of the crowd there was (wait for this) absolutely nothing!!

Split in two halves, one inside the roundabout, the other across the street, these young men, where just engaged in chanting match. With every passing car or truck the crowd erupted into wild shouting and jumping.

Then, with the countdown to 2005, the crowd went berserk, taking over the street as fire crackers exploded in the air.

The police, who maintained a visible presence, seemed to feel they had to make themselves ‘useful’. A police car approached the crowd and a policeman jumped out, yielding a rubber baton and charge toward the crowd, who were already running away from the car. No sooner had the police car passed through the crowd, did the young men occupy the street again.

From the looks and verbal style of these guys, it was obvious to me that most of them had come from lower income ‘East Amman’ neighborhoods. And when all the New Year’s celebration the city are held behind closed doors, in restaurants, clubs and hotels, these young people couldn’t find anything better to do than to celebrate their own act of gathering. They came (as they do on Thursday nights) from where they live to the glitter of the Abdoun roundabout, hanging around outside the places they probably cannot afford to enter.

That’s the reality of Amman: a city of considerable income divisions. It’s a city that still cannot get itself to act like a capital. Thousands of young people obviously felt the need to be on the street to celebrate. But with absolutely no public effort to organize publicly accessible events we just get these masses of aimless youth (with the police watching them).

Amman needs an active effort to start behaving like a real city with PUBLIC events held in PUBLIC places. We have Culture Street in Shmeisani, all the public plazas in Ras Al Ein, Al Hussein Gardens. These places need to be brought alive with events that focus the public’s energy, instead of forcing youth to just hang around on the streets, cheering the passing cars!

Here’s a video of how the scene looked like at Abdoun Roundabout yesterday.


10 Responses to “The crowd is the event: Amman’s youth celebrating new year on Abdoun circle”

  1. iyas Says:

    The gap between the have and the have-nots is widening and entertainment options are being limited to those who can afford it, as if taking a break from one low-paying job is some sort of a benefit. Amman is transforming into a deformed clone of Western metropolis. These young men are repressed and are raging with adrenaline-powered emotion. Some become easily swayed by extremist thoughts; others’ only “breather” is what you saw on Friday night. I totally agree with you that Amman needs public activities.
    The bigger town nearby where I live is Provo. Yesterday, as every year, the city closed down center street (downtown basically) and had 3 or 4 booths with a stand-up comedian, a couple of local bands and two ballerinas dancing from the window of some building. They were selling glow-sticks and hot chocolate and there was an ambulance in case emergency, a few policemen and volunteers to organize the events. Sure it was “stupid”, and sure it was just high school kids and elderly but it did not cost much yet it provided a much better environment to celebrate than simply leaving it to become an “Abdoun roundabout”.
    And the policemen in Amman,...they that’s their way of venting out their repression and frustration.

  2. koojoo Says:

    True true, very true, you should get this observation published so maybe in the future something positive can be done.

  3. Ammar Ibrahim Says:

    Thanks for the Video :)

  4. Natasha Says:

    Well said Ahmad. I saw a similar scene on New Year’s eve around Rabia cricle!

  5. Nazem Says:

    I would like to thank you for your effort and true values that many of us seem to lack, and I hope that one day we will follow a valid collective effort so we live to see a change in our Jordanian youth.

  6. Yousif Sawalhi Says:

    am looking at this view & these comments after a 7 months away from my favourit place in the whole world Amman. after spending my 4 years in amman studying in amman al ahleya.
    am telling u guys spend all ur time in amman ur gonna miss it in the future, live every moment & tell amman that i missed her SO MUCH.
    JUST DO WHAT EVER YOU WANT, u r in the best place EVER…..

  7. mosteghanemi mohammed Says:

    j aurais de la chance de visiter la jordani car c est un pays qui me plais beaucoup.

  8. Tamer Says:

    That’s an every THURSDAY event, but they use cars i dont know why but they come from everywhere in jordan with their cars and keep goin around and around abdoun’s circle

  9. jamil Says:

    you guys are talking about them/us as if you are talking about subhumans , i dont really know what is your cultural background , but we all should understand that our country is small enough to be divided.
    let people enjoy doing what they like to do , as far they are not causing harm/disrespect to any one else.
    lets be free ..and act as free people.

  10. Charlie Says:

    Hey guys…well to start off I’d like to say that i’m Armenian born in amman and just like any other kid, i lived my youth days in the streets playing soccer with my 7ara friends and causing all kinds of trouble…I can’t stress enough how much those friends mean to me even until now Even though theres a huge gap between us….like for example I went to the American Community School, my bestest buddies were from Il Koliyeh il 3ilmiyeh il islamyeh and Al ra2ed al 3araby… so as you can see….I had to manage my times with my two groups of friends…

    With my 7ara group, we go out and drive in abdoun and just do nothing, drink coffee smoke cigarettes LIKE THERES NO TOMORROW and then complain and go back home…...I LOVE IT….its fun for me

    Well with my other buddies, well u know, we go out to bars and house partys and everything else those people dodn’t know about…

    The problem is that I HATE THAT And so I started doing my 7ara friends a favour and took them out to blue fig and like into clubs…and to tell you the truth they were culture shocked…...but thats ok after all i’m living in Canada and BOY was I culture shocked when I came here!

    The point is…....those people are just like you and me….they wanna have a blast on new years eve just like u wanna go out and celebrate…...and for those guys it shouldn’t cost them 70 JDs or whatever to go out and have some fun…..

    This is were you guys come into play…..i’m glad to see concerned people like you and i’m sure we can work something out…I would like to propose something, read on if ur interested….

    Why don’t we just rent a huge place such as ma3rad il siyarat and have indoor/ outdoor activities for those guys….....we can ask all cool restaurants like day3a and reem and to come open up booths and they would make extra cash too…..

    I can guarantee you that those guys want nothing more than to see a few nice cars, you know a little car show drifting…...thats all they want…....lets bring those guys with their cars and have them drift the hell out of the night and away from abdoun…....Come pay 1 jd and enter into the ring and you have ALL night to impress the crowd which I GURANATEE will be all over the place…even over the fences n stuff like that…..We can bring some nice local youth bands and have them play some tunes to encourage those individuals too

    We can organize a very nice YEARLY event that would contribute to making jordan A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL OF US!

    After all this your land….this is my land…..this is OUR LAND and we all cherish and love it!!

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