Salt: Jordan’s forgotten urban jewel

Salt thumbnails

With everyone focusing on the amazing/crazy growth of Amman, the skyscrapers on airport road and the gated communities (why the heck do we need them?), a visit to the old town center of Salt is an amazing jolt to the faculties of urban perception! (highly recommended too).

Regrettably all my visits to the city (with foreign guests) tend to be too short and unguided. But the urban charm of this city is just amazing (to me and my guests alike). I noticed two new positive developments in old Salt. One is the renovation of the Abu Jaber House, and the other is the imminent revamping of the Salt museum (the Touqan House). The Abu Jaber project is supported by JAICA (ie the Japanese) and the museum project is supported by the Dutch embassy. I say: all strength to them! It takes Jordan’s foreign friends to recognize the value of our (abandoned) urban heritage.

Even in the well renovated Souq, ugly, Amman style commercial signs are creeping in. Sadly a lot of houses around the Souq are abandoned.

Before anyone out there thinks I am a no-to-skyscrapers romantic.. Well.. I am not. I am excited about the prospect of the new Amman. But needless to say, some of the new proposed project in Amman are outright ugly and will probably create huge traffic problems. But we don’t seem to care. (Remember: a Dubai-style image and driving SUVs is way more important to Amman than decent sidewalks and public transportation).

But I do worry about the old Amman and the old Salt. Exactly because we are building all these new projects, managing our urban heritage (in a country that largely lacks such heritage) is too important to ignore.

Hey, even Dubai tries. Have you ever visited the old areas around the Gold Market in Dubai. Really charming and well preserved/paved areas, full of commerce and life. Of course, my Palestinian and Jordanian friends mostly don’t know where on earth old Dubai is. They only know about the new Dubai.

I am no Salt expert. If you are one please add to our knowledge by commenting below. But I will let the photos I’ve taken during my quick walk speak for themselves. I will definitely have more trips to Salt from now on.

A quick walk through Salt

Read about Salt in Wikipedia.


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11 Responses to “Salt: Jordan’s forgotten urban jewel”

  1. reega reega hareega Says:

    Thanx for blogging about Salt, I’m not an expert either in this city but from what I hear from people over there, all these ancient places in Salt were forgotten and some places in the city which were very popular in the 1950s and 1960s like the only cinema and only coffee place have been destroyed !

    Wasfi el Tall’s birth place has been renovated too and a mosque built next to it, it’s on the way from Swalieh to al-Ahliyyeh University,.

  2. Jad madi Says:

    I was wondering why Reef feel so high today!

  3. Asfour Says:

    Ahmad… JICA actually did amazing job there like the amazing lookouts in the mountains of As-Salt,but to be specific they are not behind Abu Jaber Museum its JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation) and the Consultant PCI (Pacific Consultants International).

    Another development with 10 million JDs budget for Salt is in progress, I had the chance to look at the study and I must stay it’s amazing.

    And by the way lets spread a new modified name for Salt in English, which is As-Salt , that’s the way people there like it. You can check this one: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9065128 , also it is mentioned in the link you provided :)

    I just Adore this City :D

  4. Keefieboy Says:

    Get the planners of Amman over to Dubai now! Show them the horror of half-assed traffic planning that builds all these amazing structures and only later thinks about the transport infrastructure. Dubai has built itself a whole lot of gridlock that will not begin to function properly until the Metro comes online in 2009, no matter how many new roads they build.

  5. hamede Says:

    Salt had the first school in jordan.

  6. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » From the Jordanian Blogosphere Says:

    [...] ze and snap some pictures of Jordan’s beautiful and diverse landscapes. Ahmad Humeid takes on a trip to Salt, which he refers to as “Jordan’s forgotten urban jewel”- [...]

  7. Shifa Zghoul Says:

    if you really want to discover Salt, look for Rami Daher dean of architecture at JUST, I had a tour with him during a conference on cultural heritage conservation which he organised.. the tour and conference were both great.
    by the way im an architect doing my PhD on cultural heritage as tool for rural sustainable development in Jordan, I have a dream of creating a database on our cultural heritage including all recources available, computer experts like you would be of great help to me and it would be another voluntary project we can all work on to save our heritage before most of it is lost.
    I just discovered this site while looking for info on Jabal amman! I was happy to find this site and get to read Jordanian disscussions on important issues .
    im currently based in Tokyo, you are all welcome to visit!

  8. Andrea Papadimitriou Says:

    Salt is for sure a forgotten juwel. We live now for around 15 years in Salt. There were a lot of changes during this time.
    The architectual futures are taken more care about now but it starts losing its character bit by bit. there was done quite a lot of work in the past years but as long the shops are in downtown and the cars are driving through the beauty stays quite hidden.
    For me the real beauty of a place is in its people and people are starting to change as live in Jordan changes.
    Live was slow and people had time were helpfull and friendly.
    The surroundings of Salt are still beautifull but the tree cutting and distruction goes on.
    Projects well if you think it logical to plant palm trees in this region by destroying the natural habitat then sure there are projects working to preserve the nature around of Salt.
    The big chalenge in my opinion is not only to preserve the architerure of Salt but Salt in all its beauty and there is so much more then architecture.
    andrea

  9. Rami Daher Says:

    Dear Ahmad,
    Greetings, and really thank you for a wonderful blog, I am a big fan and I know of so many who adore your blog.
    I was doing a search on Salt and came across your beatiful photos and some of the comments by blog visitors. I only have one single comment:
    Yes, it was JICA or JEPIC who funded the Abu Jaber Musuem Project, but why do we always forget to give credit to the local forces or individuals who were also invovled. JICA or PCI did not do the designs for the Abu Jaber Project, in fact I was the one who did that (as a local consultant). Also, for the trails and panoramic lookouts, it was local architect Ayman Zuaiter. It is sad that when these projects are mentioned, the first name that comes to mind is JICA, I do not want to be missunderstood here, I mean we do appreciate their efforts and the funding, but let us also give credit to the designers, for Abu Jaber House, I was the architect and musuem designer as well. And it is a project that started on the drawing boards and research efforts since 2000. Actual work did not start until 2004, We hope for it to be finished next month.

    Thank you very much.
    Rami Daher

  10. Rami Daher Says:

    Dear Ahmad,
    Greetings, great things you are posting on Salt, the jewel of Jordanian heritage architecture. I would like to add a correction. It is true that the Japanese paid for the Abu Jaber house adaptive reuse into a heritage musuem about Salt, but they are not the ones who did the curation, the conservation design, and the interior design. It was Rami Daher (myself). It is sad when people mention this project that it is only the Japanese that are mentioned when it took several years of my life while it was being designed and during supervision. Well, I thought I would add my two cents.
    Thanks.
    Rami

  11. Humeid Says:

    Rami, great to see you comment here.

    You need better PR man!

    :-)

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