Amman set to win “Worst Sidewalks of the World” prize!

Creativity in using materials..

Superb functional solutions.. excuse the brick..

Sidewalk as storage

The art of disintegration

The words ‘high’ and ‘craftsmanship’ come to mind

An empty plot of land needs no side walk (patent pending)

Sculptutal composition in stone and asphalt..

Creative integration of flowerpots and other artefacts

Just off Jubilee Circle.. men at work..

Abdoun greets the shoppers..

Urban harmony..

Nature reclaims the street..

If there were a global contest for ‘The Worst Sidewalks in the World”, Amman would be a top contender. Our sidewalks are not just bad but utterly horrible. Mindless. Broken. Ugly. Dangerous. Even in the ‘affluent’ Abdoun district, you’ll find sidewalks that look as if an earthquake had just hit.

Think about this: we all know that Amman is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. But generally our urban infrastructure actually WORKS. Electricity works. Water works. Telephones work. Traffic lights work. Sewers work. But sidewalks? That ‘invention’ has not reached us yet. Our sidewalks are an insult to our city and its citizen’s. I just want you to look at some of the pictures I included again.

What is the ‘big secret’ about sidewalks that makes them impossible to achieve for Amman.

Please don’t tell me it’s a matter of budgets. Amman has enough money to enable it to build big bridges and intersections.

I say, let’s learn from Dubai. This is no rocket science. This does not require a ‘Amman Beautification Committee’. Modern sidewalk standards are available all over the world. In Dubai, just for example, the sidewalks are properly engineered. It is a matter of detailing, implementation , quality control and maintenance. It should be a matter of LAW.

Many of us (myself included) are concerned about the Dubai-ification of Amman. But in the areas of of urban engineering (I am not saying planning, as Dubai now has horrible traffic jams) we just need to adopt their mentality of: copy some global standard and paste them locally. Better still: the Municipality (or whoever is responsible for this) should just hire a stubborn English or German person and charge him or her with fixing this problem and training some dedicated, stubborn Jordanians to maintain the system.

Someone will say that the problem lief with the Amman citizen’s unwillingness to adhere to standards. That might be partially true. Ammanis still treat their city as a little village (despite that it has probably 2 million inhabitants right now). But when the government wants to impose something in Jordan it sure can muster the will. Just look at collection of Sales Tax for an example of political will to do something.

Amman is increasingly looking like a really backward 3rd world city, despite all the money being spent by the public and private sectors. Broken sidewalks, bumpy streets (even in the capital’s most posh districts by the way. At least there is some equality there!) unbelievably haphazard signage. Add that to the poor aesthetic visual culture of our merchants and the onslaught of global brands. Amman is drowning in a disgraceful state of ugliness.

Oh, here’s a picture from Dubai’s Gardens district.. Forget the sprinklers and the greenery, just look at that SIDEWALK!

Read these related posts on 360east:

24 Responses to “Amman set to win “Worst Sidewalks of the World” prize!”

  1. Tololy Says:

    The worst transgression over the rights of pedestrians in Amman are, in my humble opinion, the Medianet ad units placed right in the centre of pavements. That is outrageous.

  2. Roba Says:

    Haha, funny.. well, it beats Saudi Arabia, which has no sidewalks at all ;)

  3. Janti Says:


  4. Nas Says:

    amman is not based on city planning like other cities. houses and buildings go up anywhere and thats why the sidewalks are never complete. once we start building districts like the one being done in marj il 7amam or the abdali area, then we’ll have proper sidewalks

  5. onzlo Says:

    I agree, I agree, I agree and I blame the Ammaneh for this 110%

    Why are the sidewalks of Amman in such a dismal state????

    a) There is no “money on the side” to be made out of building or fixing sidewalks unlike some other big but less vital projects like tunnels and ehm ehm bridges, so obviously there is no incentive for the ammaneh to pay too much attention into sidewalks.

    b) Most people in charge probably never even experianced the terrible state of these sidewalks since they rarely ever walk more than a few meters (i.e. from the cardoor into the building door) so it is not an inconveniance to them (although they do get stuck in car traffic so again bridges and tunnels need to come up as soon as possible). In this case there is no inconveniance to people in charge, no inconveniance means no one notices, and therefore no one complains.

    in conclusion:

    No one complains + no incentives = no fixing pavements, no pavement building codes, no enforcement of these codes, and in some cases no pavement at all!

    But hey did you see the bridge they are building in Abdoun?? I mean wow it saves us a whole 2 minutes!!

  6. Natalia Says:

    I was particularly appalled by the trees growing in the middle of the sidewalks in Shmeisani. If you venture out after dark, you’re lucky if ONE tree branch hits you in the face. >:(

  7. El3atal Says:

    LOL. That’s good but at least Amman has sidewalks. I live in the city in the USA that has no sidewalks!

  8. bilotee Says:

    the distructed sidewalks aside…
    the trees are invading the sidewalks, scary!

  9. Khalidah Says:

    I can’t agree more Ahmad
    This is an excellent observation and it is really getting to all of us … these sidewalks turn into traps during winter and many accidents do take place for those who use them to walk (the main reason for their existence in the first place) .. but since they are not suitable for this purpose .. people start using the street to walk and this translates to more accidents …

    I wish that someone does something soon

    Thank you Ahmad

  10. Chris Says:

    Nice post. When i visted Jordan for a few months I found the sidewalks in Amman unusable so i just walked on the street like a true Ammani.

  11. David Says:

    Roba, I was going to say the same thing about Egypt.

    Ahmad, I seriously think the reason why Dubia is so “tidy” is because they have a gay man in charge (I’m not insinuating anything about gay men other than the fact that a large majority are extremely fastidious).

    However, sidewalks are not the only thing that need some work around here. Amman has grown very quickly and those responsible for city planning have done a very poor job of adjusting to the change. I think that the city planners either a) don’t care or b) are ignorant to proper city planning. If I were the king, I would fire my city planners and bring in someone who has studied other working city infrustructures.

  12. hamzeh Says:

    7aram 3aleikom ya jama3a.. Amman is not that bad,,, im not saying so coz i raised in madaba,,, w shayefha w msh msaddeg…. h3h3h3h3h3,,, bs i like amman to death, im in love with amman acually,,, and even if its the damned place ever,,,
    anyway,, ill take ur notes positivly,,, i agree it needs more and more inhancement to compete with real cities ;)

  13. s Says:

    why hire someone from abroad? i’m sure there are lots of people who can handle the situation locally if they were told to specifically address the problem. Maybe seriously bringing up the issue with citizens is a way to put pressure on those responsible….

  14. David Says:

    S, I’m not necessarily saying that we should hire a foreigner, per se, but rather someone who has had the opportunity to witness multiple successful infrustructure models, and the vision and capability to illicit change throughout the city.

    While I blame the government in part, there is also a lack on the part of the people. I think that most people don’t care much about the condition of the sidewalks because (they think) it is not necessarily their responsibility. However, the government is not the ones parking cars on or littering the city’s sidewalks with building supplies, trash, and other effects of disrepair. After all, my neighbors upstairs just toss their trash on the sidewalk across the street rather than walk it a couple of meters down the street to the dumpster (and don’t get me started on these ugly dumpsters everywhere). I don’t know whether to blame their upbringing, or whether they are truly lazy, but it annoys me greatly to see it.

    I think in order to affect change, the government needs to get smart and restructure their city planning; at the same time, I think the people need to take greater pride in their city. There is no reason why Amman can’t become the Jewel of the Levant.

  15. Ala Dadan Says:

    that’s nothing you should see my hometown ( jerash ) sidewalks …
    its like a war-zone ..

  16. nasimjo Says:

    Ala, Yeah Where There are sidewalks in Jerash they are either 40 CMs wide or/and occupied by the shops, The Whole Downtown is just like a BIG 7ESBEH Nowadays!

    As for Amman’s Sidewalks, now here’s what my vision for the whole situation, AMANEH is doing whats required from it! Mostly, At least! All Those Sidewalks,or supposed sidewalks, you have included in the pictures are the lands and buildings owners responsibilities! And It’s really to Annoying To see Buildings built with millions and their owners arent making them decent side walks, its really a shame even! And all they care about is to built on the most possible area of their lands, this is what they care about.. most probably because those guys never tried to WALK even!

    Just look at the Nice Sidewalks down at the Balad, and most of Jabal Amman, since The sidewalks are property of the amaneh, THEY ARE WONDERFUL!
    While go for a shopping tour at Sweifieh, It’s ugly! Really ugly! Look at Libnani Snacks occupation over the sidewalk, in their old sweifieh branch the even occupied part of the street with their shawerma stand!

    I guess it’s the Wrong ill mentality of liberalism most of those wealthy owners have, I say “wrong” Because I’m a Liberal My self, but a proper thinking one!

  17. dd Says:

    please dubaiifi us! i beg of you!

  18. Udai Says:

    You assume someone gives a damn at the official level. Had this been the case, far more serious issues would have been addressed long time ago. Welcome to the big mskhara.

  19. zdyug Says:


    here in saudi the sidewalks are even worse!
    they dont even use brick! they use concrete!
    and there are like peoples footprints on them!

  20. ali Says:

    loool iknow some roads dont even have sidewalks! bt recently they use bricks in some roads like tahlia road in riyadh, dhahran road in khobar

  21. DM Says:

    Hey Guys,

    I’ve lived all my life in Amman but I am actually a foreigner. I’ve seen lots of cities in europe that have nice sidewalk systems but the people on bikes have there own sidewalks too so you don’t really wnat to compare.
    I now work here in Dubai and I could run around and collect pictures of the sidewalks here that would make amman seem like heaven.
    I live in the Gardens that you have a picture of and i must admit that thos sidewalks are nice. However, everyone here who has ever been to Amman only has good things to say. We would all rather be in Amman because the weather allows you to walk outside on the sidewalks. Here noone walks outside in the first place so any sidewalks they do have are for the cats.
    C’mon there are much more important things in life and not to mention a city than sidewalks.

    It would make the streets much more useable to get people walking on the sidewalks though I will admit.

  22. Khalid Shahin Says:

    Very interesting post, but besides the sidewalks, you should say something about the illegal temporary signs on public property that adversely affect the appearance of Amman streetscapes, neighborhoods and business districts throughout the city. The quantity and variety of signs that are cropping up on street corners and along roadways are a distraction, and they can pose a visual barrier to drivers and even walkers. And one more funny thing, most of the big signs and billboards on Amman-Airport road are full of typos and spelling mistakes..don’t you agree??.

  23. » Are Jordanians slow walkers? Says:

    [...] It has long been known that giraffes developed long necks in order to reach leaves at the top of trees and that chameleons developed the ability to change the color of their skin to hide from their predators. By the same token, Ammanites have developed their slow place in response to the dangerous obstacles in their way. In other words, the inhabitants of Amman evolved into a slow species to allow ample time to assess the danger that lies in every step. [...]

  24. The NYTimess writes about Amman (and my fellow bloggers and tweeps complain) - 360east | design, media, technology Says:

    [...] Our sidewalks not only suck, they suck big time. Saying so is not condescension but merely stating a fact. I’ve written on this blog some years ago that Amman should win an award for worst sidewalks in the world and no one said I was being condescending. A Lebanese writer recently noted how he found himself as “Amman’s only pedestrian” which meant Ammanis forgot how to walk. I think we need to hear this a million times more: Amman’s sidewalks are a disaster. Thank you NYTimes for noting some of the improvements that were made in various place. [...]

Leave a Reply