Amman Centennial Website

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..


8 responses to “Experience Amman and its story: the most comprehensive city history site ever”

  1. shalabieh Avatar

    I haven’t checked it out yet but I love the idea and love how its participatory and interactive. Syntax have always been at the forefront of these kinds of online workings and I hope that this will be a great success!

  2. hamede Avatar

    لي الشرف بأني كنت الأول من كتب في زاوية أماكن عن المدرج الروماني

  3. Humeid Avatar

    Shalabieh.. thanks :-) I know that you’d have some valuable things to share on the site. I hope you do.

    شكرا لمشاركتك ولتعليقك هنا ايضا

  4. The Observer Avatar
    The Observer

    I LOVED IT! Thank you so much. I think that Amman was born today. You managed to give her the identity it deserves. Great Job! Actually it is an amazing job!

    Amman has really matured, that is obvious through its people who are now capable enough to give it such beautiful image.

    Why don’t they sell “I Love Amman” tshirts on the website?

  5. George Avatar

    Great work Syntax! When you upload stories in English, will they automatically be translated? Or how will that work? Will there be social translation functions? If not you should think about or as viable solutions.

  6. Khaled Sedki Avatar
    Khaled Sedki

    On Interruptions Blog: Amman’s Centennial Website | Narrating a 100 years

    [Amman’s story, the narrative of Amman, the city; its people, stratas, its hills, roads and corridors, bazaars and rock-carved houses has been an issue everytime one tries to address Amman the city.
    I was raised in Dimashq, a city with two names; an official name and one that its people made up, Sham, a parallel city narrated rather than built; in stories, traditions, habits, its urban melodrama substitutes the built city with a stage of a more spontaneous but rather complex scenarios.
    Amman was left open for interpretations, often analyzed rather than narrated, perhaps due the political context in which it was born, grew and mutated into what strives to be a young cosmopolitan diverse, multi-cultural and innovative hub among surrounding ancient capitals.
    And the recently released Amman Centennial Website, designed and branded by SYNTAX and developed by its sister company Spring, is the first attempt to narrate and document the city and is, perhaps, a statement in itself emphasizing the necessity of better understanding Amman towards a deeper concern and active engagement through its current rapid development.

    This is something Dr Rami F. Daher addressed beautifully in an article at Interruptions | Idiom explaining how “understanding the city and appreciating its uniqueness allows one to develop a relationship with it beyond the passive dweller.”
    This is where SYNTAX have taken GAM’s project by “telling Amman’s stories” believing that “A city without a story is a city without an identity.”
    Which almost responds to the question Dr Rami F. Daher raised in the same article asking “whether or not Amman suffers from crisis of identity” because unlike GAM’s slogans, Amman’s “soul” is consistently present but the identity is to be defined and well understood-

    And this project by GAM is a very valuable attempt to re-energize the process of solidifying Amman’s identity, which Dr. Daher refers to as “GAM’s attempts to reinvent itself and redefine its relationship vis-a-vis the City be envisioning its role beyond service and utility provision.”
    This initiative that was matched by passionate and innovative devotion by SYNTAX could highlight a tendency to re-approach the city once again as a referential setting, a social/cultural womb rather than a bazaar of real-estate and infrastructure commodities and land price-tags.

    The interactive nature of the website is another key to it, allowing the narrative of Amman to be participatory and collective, like the city itself- a sum of individual stories as “Amman tends to represent a rich reservoir of personal and collective memories.” as Dr Daher also explains.
    It’s the individual within but also among the collective, the participatory contribution of its people.

    I’m pretty happy to see the website, so congrats to SYNTAX, GAM, Spring and to Amman.
    Happy 100th anniversary!]

  7. omar Avatar

    I have to say I spent almost 2 hours admiring this website when I stumbled upon it – It was a purely entertaining interactive experience and a rather more interesting visual trip! I loved the website to bits.

  8. Yanal Avatar

    WOW! And I thought SYNTAX was nothing more than an amateur company after checking their website. You really proved yourself with ammancity100, at least to me, as serious professionals. I’m really glad to see open minded people here at Amman. This is what makes all the difference in our small city :) .