I just came back from the first Jabal Amman Flea market (or rather street market). Very interesting experiment. Although it was still quite hot around 4 in the afternoon, there was quite a lot of people on the Fawzi Malouf Street, which was transformed by the Jabal Amman Resident’s Association (JARA), into a unique urban experience that we haven’t seen in modern-day Amman before.
Today was the first time this activity was held. From now on till the end of summer, the market will open every Friday from 10 am till 9 pm. I am pretty sure that this will be drawing Ammani and expatriate crowds every week, especially if the organizers manage to keep it interesting and varied.
The scene was quite colorful, with small stalls set up on both sides of the street. A small stage for musical performances as well as a street cafe with a few tables were also set up. Most of the stalls were selling Jordanian handicrafts, art, soap and so on (a lot of it of the kitschy type I must add).
Young an old were there. The atmosphere was relaxed. It is just amazing what a great potential Amman has for such street activities. Here we are in mid-Summer, but the weather still allow for pleasant outdoor afternoon activities.
Thumbs up to JARA and its chief instigator Zeid Goussous.
The t-shirt surprise
My ‘coolest stall’ vote goes to Omar Tabbaa t-shirt stall. Every now and again, one comes across something in Amman that expresses the creative spirit of Amman’s up and coming generation.
Such creative glimpses are too few and far in between in Amman. But Omar’s t-shirts must be the coolest design idea I’ve come across in Amman for a long while.
One back t-shirt simply says ’7afartali’ in white letters. Hafartali (written ’7afartali’ in true Arabic-SMS-Internet style) mean something like “vulgar, uncool, commoner”, which is a term used by affluent west Ammanis to describe a certain type of young males from the not-so-cool parts of town.
Another t-shirt pretends to be that of the ‘Swaqa Prison Football Team’. Hilarious. Then there’s one with a ‘logo’ of the Marka International Airport (Amman’s old Airport in Eastern Amman).
Then there’s the ‘Abdali’ t-shirt, adopting the London Underground logo for Amman’s most famous bus station (soon to be removed to another part of town).
Not only are Omar’s t-shirts funny, but they also carry some social/urban commentary. They are a good reminder that Amman is more than Abdoun (Omar manages two well know restaurants in Abdoun by the way ). The East Amman-West Amman rift is a depressing reality. While parts of western Amman are audaciously reflecting a globalized, glitzy and liberal image and attitude, the largest parts of city are the dusty, chaotic and poor reflection of our ‘developing world’ reality.
The urban experience of many of western Amman’s residents almost never includes any ‘excursions’ into the eastern part of town, except perhaps when we take a plane from the Marka Airport to Aqaba .
I ended up buying a cool red t-shirt with the Atari logo and the world Atari written in Arabic. Many of us 30-something’s grew up with Atari as our first introduction to the world of video games and computers. The retro-colloquial concept of that t-shirt is spot on.