It’s been a long time in the making, but now its here.
Never before has Amman’s story been presented to its citizens and guest so vividly and comprehensively. It’s still a work in progress that Ammanis and their guest will complete in the coming months and years. I am talking about the Amman Centennial website, branded and designed by SYNTAX and developed by its sister company Spring.
I will let the site speak for itself and I urge you to visit it.
Telling Amman’s story was a key recommendation we presented to GAM as part of the comprehensive city brand we developed for Amman. A city without a story is a city without an identity. Amman’s story is unique. It is a city that defies easy classification. It is a hybrid, a collage, a melting pot. For that, Amman often gets dismissed by people who are looking for the stereotypical ‘oriental’ city, and even by many of its own urban elite, who consider ‘not cool’, ‘not original’, ‘not grand’ or ‘not serviced’ enough. But once you start understanding the story of this city, the youngest of the Arab capitals of the Levant, you start seeing it with new eyes.
This site is the first ever bilingual (Arabic/English) attempt to take Amman’s story to the mainstream. So far, only academics and intellectuals knew anything significant about the story of Amman. Many of the attempts of recounting Amman’s hostory fall into the trap of talking more about the Romans (and other ancients) than the Amman of the 20th century. What we tried to do for our client, GAM, here was to give them a package of information, that forms the basis of future efforts to tell the story of Amman. Our hope is that our effort and that of others (like the work of Dr Rami Al Daher, who created an exhibition on Amman’s story as well) will be translated into a future downtown interactive museum that tells the unique story of Amman.
As this is an interactive website, it offer Amman’s citizens and friends to share their own Ammani stories. So far a number of interesting pieces have been submitted, most of them in Arabic. My colleague and fellow blogger Roba Assi has contributed a number of posts reflecting on ‘her’ Amman in English. As this blog is in English, this is an invitation to English speakers to contribute to this site too.
Also, for the first time ever, the institutional history of Amman’s municipality (ie the history of GAM as an organization) is being told on this site (for now in Arabic, but the English version is coming very soon). It was an unbelievably difficult task to piece this history together. After a number of failed attempts, the task fell upon Mr Mohammad Rafee’, one of Amman’s most prominent historians, who was able to complete this task to the satisfaction of GAM.
At SYNTAX, we often get ourselves involved in pioneering projects. Amman has never undertaken a comprehensive branding exercise. It never presented its story in an accessible manner. City identities, especially in this turbulent part of the world, are never easy to deal with. City’s stories happen at the intersection of the social, economic and political spheres of society. Creating this site was at times frustrating and stressful, to us and to our client. I am sure that people will find things to complain about. But for now it stands as a piece of the Ammani collage. It is an attempt to establish a new official narrative, blended with the non-official stories of ordinary Ammanis.
My hope is that it becomes a catalyst for further story telling about Amman and its spirit.
Give it a try..