This might sound like the the first line of a joke waiting for a punch line. But this Lebanese man is not the star of a funny joke but the writer Hazem Amin, who one evening found himself as “Amman’s only pedestrian, stumbling over its sidewalks“. That’s the title of his article in Al-Ghad today [Arabic link].

It is a great article about Amman’s contemporary character. Lebanese tend to see Amman as a “highly organized and precise city” as Amin writes. We Ammanis might complain a lot about our city. But compared to Beirut and Cairo, Amman is indeed a city of ease and comfort (which happens to be one of the attributes our team at SYNTAX made into one of the corner stones of Amman’s brand).

But this ease has become the ease of driving, and not walking. Not only have Ammanis stopped walking, but they have forgotten what walking is. When the writer left his meeting in a cafe in Shmeisani, he saw his hotel on the Third Circle on the horizon. He was tempted to walk instead of taking a taxi. He asked a building guard and a grocer about how long it would take him to walk to the Third Circle. Both answered identically: One and a half hours. Having the luxury of time in a city he’s unfamiliar with, Amin decided to walk. He made it in 25 minutes!

Walking, he meet those other dwellers of our sidewalks. Certainly not other pedestrians. But advertising billboards and “illogically placed” concrete benches! I smiled when I read that because this is just so Ammani. Our sidewalks are decorative in nature. Cut and paste jobs never intended for usage.

The Lebanese man in Amman concludes: if Ammanis really wanted to walk, their sidewalks would have been fixed by the simple effect of their shoes treading the ground!

Here is another usage of sidewalks in Amman. This one is courtesy of my neighbors in the office building where I work. Thank you.

Amman sidewalk debris



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3 responses to “A Lebanese man walks in Amman..”

  1. Iyad Avatar

    Next to my house is the “Qadi alqudah” near the Gardens St, every time I pass next to it, I wish deep in my heart to have a camera with me to take a picture. The Sidewalk is nice, wide, and clean, but guess what? the government cars park on it (at least three cars on both sideways), besides the huge cement barriers that supposedly for security, that cut the sidewalk. Don’t forget the police cabinet that took half of the sidewalk as well. So it is IMPOSSIBLE to walk on the sidewalk, and MUST walk on the street with cars.

  2. Farah Avatar

    I loved the article, especially that walking in the streets of Amman is one of the things I love doing most. And he’s right, if we all start walking, we might think twice before “illogically” placing anything blocking the sidewalks. So just walk, and other will follow…

  3. KF Avatar

    When I think of public areas being planned in Amman, e.g. City Park in Abdoun and the big downtown project by the GAM, I think of the great
    planning of pedestrian paths at a university in the US.

    The story was that the open area between buildings was left with grass. After sometime, the students and staff had worn paths in the grass, by constantly taking their preferred paths between buildings. The landscape designers then created permanent sidewalks where the worn paths were. Additional greenery was planted afterwards.

    I look forward to good landscape planning for pedestrians at these locations and others around Amman.