After trashing Amman’s image, billboard companies are crying: “save our jobs”!


The new major of Amman, Omar Maani, seems to be serious in fixing some of the problems Amman faces.

Some columnists in the media are trying to portray the major as someone who is only doing ‘cosmetic’ things. This is simply untrue.

The Greater Amman municipality is working on a comprehensive master plan (that will specify the exact land use for every plot of land in Amman, for example), public transport development, pedestrian friendly solutions and green areas. Amman is in a rather big mess, and dealing with this mess is a big job that the GAM seem to have started tackling (I will leave talking about the GAM’s plans for another post).

Yet with all this structural/deep work, our city needs quick interventions. One of them is the Sign Epidemic. Responsible for this, for decades, were the lax building codes (or their lax implementation) that resulted in complete facades being covered up in tasteless, chaotic visual junk.

Also responsible for this is the TOTAL lack of aesthetic awareness among shop and building owners, who only care about one thing: that their sign is larger than their neighbors (which is a primitive form of competition).

And then we have the billboard companies. The only thing they care about is to put up more and more and MORE rooftop advertising billaboard$$$$$$$$$$.

I am not against advertising billboards. And yes, on the concrete side of a building, a standard billboard (3×4m) can look good. Even unipoles are acceptable on some roads.

But I am against the prostitution of every building facade and every street for marketing purposes.

Now the GAM is on a collision course with the billboard companies, as reported in Al Ghad today. The companies are using a really dumb tactic, saying that 15,000 families who live off the billboard business will be become HOMELESS. I am not making this up!! Why didn’t they immediately also cry MASSACRE!

They are using member of parliament Raed Qaqish as their mouthpiece and are harassing the GAM with such claims of livelihood stealing.

Come on people!

It’s as if the GAM is saying that the whole billboard business will be wiped off the face of Jordan.

According to what I know, the GAM met numerous times with the companies and suggested numerous solutions. Now the billboard companies are saying that THEIR suggestions have not been accepted.

My personal feeling is that the GAM should simply stay the course. If this reaches a confrontation with the billboard offenders so be it. The billboarders have held our skylines, facades and streets hostage for too long.

I would advise both the GAM and the billboarders to go public with their suggestions so that one can jusge what is better for Amman.

The GAM has been too lax in the past (maybe it was happy to get some revenue out of the billboard permits). Amman looks like a third rate, third world city.

Going after the rooftops is not enough. The second, even more important, step for GAM is to crackdown on shop and building signs. I mean just look at how horrible Gardens Street or, even more depressing, how Downtown looks.

Economic freedom should not mean the freedom to trash our cities. The bollboarders should save their jobs by doing their job with more professionalism and responsibility (instead of claiming that their families will hunger!).

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11 Responses to “After trashing Amman’s image, billboard companies are crying: “save our jobs”!”

  1. hatem abunimeh Says:

    While the eye sore unsightly billboards issue needs to be addressed at some point in time, I don’t think that it represent an immediate pressing priority right now, I can think of at least 10 other more pressing issues that require an immediate attention by the honorable city mayor. The issues are listed below in no particular order.

    1) Resolve Raghadan bus terminal controversy

    2) Address Abdoon Bridge opening delay

    3) Rod the city sewer line in preparation for the winter season

    4) Establish city transportation transit system

    5) Limit the erection of skyscrapers in the midst of residential areas

    6) Stop, limit, or regulate traffic jams/ traffic moving violators

    7) Regulate the excessive number of cabs aimlessly roaming the city streets

    8) Resolve the issue of transporting and incinerating medical waste, it is contaminating the other regular solid waste

    9) Reduce the excessive city pollution

    10) Maintain the integrity of the city’s archeological cites.

  2. Humeid Says:


    All the point are actually on the agend of GAM. I say so becaus i recently attended a talk given by the mayor. From what I heared from him, he is very serious about fixing all the pressing issues Amman faces. It will take time for sure, but you get a sense they are serious.

    This billboard thing is also important. It’s a test of will. For once i’d like the municipality to become strict and not simply succumb to political pressure by companies who seem to only care about their freedom to pollute the city’s skyline and facades

  3. Saad Darwazeh Says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more on this Ahmad. The ugly, trashy and junky billboards suffocating the city, are not only choatic, obsene but extremely polluting and in many cases, hazardous. Drivers feel like they are driving in a maze of signs – visibilty issue here!

    Another ‘good’ thing I noticed the last few days, they are re-painting the sides of the streets with simple grey instead of that grotesque yellow/black tiger stripes we had before. You can tell the difference immediately. How the hell did they come up with yellow/black design? The very ugly, army-like design makes the streets look smaller…

    And I also agree very much with Hatim on ALL the 10 points. I just wonder sometimes, how many generations does Jordan have to see before we see proper, clean and organized public buses?! I realy wonder if this will be in our lifetime!

  4. Say FAREWELL to ugly yellow and black sidewalks! - 360east | design, media, technology Says:

    [...] 360east reader Saad Darwazeh just left me a comment about on yesterday’s billboard post: [...]

  5. Sandra Hiari Says:

    I hope that people understand that, with all the valid serious issues Amman is facing (like those mentioned by Hatem), that a serious amount of work that takes a long time is needed to fix the mess. “Urban” is a word that Amman doesn’t really know, because it is so “rural” in terms of its city practises.

    Maani seems very promising, more excited about fixing the city than alot of field professionals (architects in this case since we lack urban designers and planners) who should have taken responsible actions before and acted proactively.

    I wonder: are we afraid that by removing the billboards some poor designed facades would appear. You can think of it this way: that the billboards are the ugly structure’s makeup and GAM is to wipe them. A GAM campaign for real beauty :)

  6. Laith Zraikat Says:

    I have to disagree.

    I suggest imposing higher taxes on billboard advertisers. the proceeds of which go to improving our pitiful roads. This way, I will actually want them to stick a billboard everywhere they can.

    I want to be able to drive without having to worry about where the next road pit/bump/pot-hole is going to come from. I once nearly hit a pedestrian while trying to avoid a low-lying pot- hole.

    If I wont have to worry about falling in a pit and wrecking my car, then maybe I’ll be able to look up and THEN worry about the city looking pretty or not.

  7. Sandra Hiari Says:

    Laith: Well even if the bumps/holes are fixed (and they SHOULD be), then you’ll have the billboards waiting next in line to catch ur attention thus distract you.

  8. Essam Abu awad Says:

    Amman now can only be described as a “Jungle” of signboards, the good and bad ones, as concerning designs, locations and shapes. Thus, it becomes necessary to control or put add some discipline to this jungle to protect and maintain the Architectural identity of Amman.
    Scholars of these signboards will realize these important pointes which need a thorough examination:

    – Abuse of the architectural Identity or character. – Abuse of the rules and elements of design from the aesthetic
    and functional points of view. – Abuse of the surrounding environment. – Visual pollution.

  9. Bilal Says:

    15,000 Families at avg 5 persons per family = 75,000 person!! Wow, 75,000 living on the revenue of Billboards business. At least, if they want to lie, let it be smart.

  10. Essam Abu awad Says:

    They have to know that regulations and most planning commissions are not out to distroy the industry, but rather to help it in carrying out its legitimate role in an acceptable manner, informal arrangements are not satisfactory and in fact would be impossible as a means of regulation. So it is very important to set down what the regulations are to acheive. Unless we establish this relation between the regulations and the ends we wish to achieve.

  11. DR Raed QaQish Says:

    Lets have a group discussion..but I guess this is not what most of you guys are aiming for… right. it may clarify the very strong indicative misleading thoughts in this article (They are using member of parliament Raed Qaqish as their mouthpiece ) which may be understood to some as another case of corrupted and paid media by the author… but God knows??? I could be wrong>> or used again…

    Less say is better… for those how are familiar with MANHOOD they know better

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    For those who are interested to know where the millions are spent in the M….. call me ,,, but why when you have >>>>> MR Manhood …

    Mind you that the Arab world has the most consumers of Viagra!! I wonder why… ?????

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