Yesterday I had one of those “feel good” moments about Jordan. You know, one of those instances (maybe rather rare instances) where you feel that Jordan is at its best. Where our mosaic or collage or whatever you want to call it just comes together.
No I am not talking about some grand government scheme to solve all our problems, or, heaven forbid, the discovery of oil in our deserts.
I simply was the lucky recipient of one of the first copies of a booklet by Sunny 105.1, Jordan’s self styled feel-good radio station, entitled “105.1 Feel Good Things in Jordan”. I happen to know the guys behind the radio station (who are the same guys behind Jordan’s pioneering hit music station, Play 99.6) because my company, SYNTAX, designed the brands of both stations. So one of the partners handed me the oversized booklet.
I could not put the thing down until I flicked through all the pages, just to see what those 105+1 feel good things in Jordan are. And man, what a list!
From a radio station that basically plays western pop hits from the 80’s, 90’s and today, you might have expected a narrow, “west-Ammani”, “hip” and “exclusive” list of things to do and see and buy. But Sunny truly surprised me by the diversity and inclusiveness of their list of feel-good things about the Kingdom. Granted, some of the places, happenings and products mentioned were “expected” (Wadi Rum, for example). But the list, overall, struck me as an indication that a more diverse and “real” understanding of Jordan is taking root, especially when compared to some of the prevailing perceptions and fractures produced in the last 20 or 30 years of elitism.
I won’t steal Sunny’s thunder by telling you too much about what in the list, but here are some examples I liked.
When it comes to food you have a place like Sugar Daddy’s Bakey in Abdoun, one of the new, hip and somewhat overpriced new outlets in Amman, which is introducing Jordanians to the global cup cake craze. But on the opposite page, you have Salheldeen Bakery, the “hole in the wall” in Abdali, selling hot fresh Ka’ek bread covered in sesame seeds, which is one of those old, unpretentious places in the heart of the city that true Amman lovers cherish, and whose patrons include every socio-economic strata of society. For more sugary feel-good stuff there is a place in the booklet for downtown’s Habiba, and even the totally cheap, artificially colored cotton candy in a nylon bag, dubbed Shaar el Banat (Girlie’s Hair) in Jordan.
Then you have Sunny’s promotion of Amman’s urbanity, which reflects the rising awareness of the city’s assets and character the “Savour a view of Amman” invites you to appreciate the rolling hills and the skyline of the city, “Wakalat Street” tell you about the start of pedestrian zones in Amman and “Rainbow Street” is a recgonition of an old Amman street that encapsulates the story of Amman. These are but three of the Ammani things that are recommended as “feel good”.
The variety and diversity of the list is very interesting. What can be more indulgent and westernized than celebrating “90’s at Cube” and what could be more mundane and indigenous than “Hamleh” the fried green chick peas we get to eat in spring. What is more serious and urgent than the Madrasati initiative that aim at the improvement of primary school buildings and what is more funny than the weird misspelled signs displayed on “Talasim.com”.
If you’re into outdoor exploration, culture, crafts, urban fashion, sports, volunteering, web surfing, you name it.. there’s something for you in Sunny’s booklet.
The whole thing is like a snapshot of what life in the kingdom is like in 2009. The booklet is obviously geared towards showing our good side and having a good time (that’s the point, isn’t it), but it still manages to include interesting little windows on social issues facing the country. Social initiatives, volunteerism, Jordan’s home-grown entrepreneurs and even some of our funny local habit all get a mention here.
Finally, a nice surprise awaited me personally in this booklet.
A flattering mention of this blog, 360east was mentioned, as was one of the companies I helped found: ikbis.com . Being connected to two entries in Sunny’s feel-good booklet made me feel good myself (although I felt bad about how little time I recently had to finish so many blog posts that have remained drafts or just titles on my laptop).
I think Sunny will widely distribute this booklet, so make sure you grab a copy. It’s a really good guide to Jordan’s life this summer!