“In a way, I still find so much beauty amid this destruction,” says Salah Maraashi as he wanders the now-ghostly old souks (covered markets) of Aleppo with his camera just before sunset. Perhaps only a photographer could find such destruction alluring.
“Look, it’s not the traffic, it’s the people’s character,” the Amman taxi driver told me, as the beaten-up Nissan crawled from glitzy Abdoun to the core of the capital at Jebel Amman. The remark caught me off guard; he was the second taxi driver to deliver the same line that day.
A tiny blue and grey Tourist Police kiosk sits at one end of Culture Street, a 350 metre strip of low-rise apartment buildings in Shmeisani, an inner suburb of the Jordanian capital Amman. The area attracts tourists mostly from the wealthy Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the U.A.E.
At 6.30 pm Asia Mart in Amman’s ‘Second Circle’ is doing a steady trade. One of the few noticeably multicultural areas in Jordan’s capital , the area is seeing an expansion of shops and services for migrant workers from South, and East Asia. Continue reading “Snapshot: Second Circle, Amman”
For every civilisation that has occupied modern-day Beirut, one asset has been central – its port. Nowadays the port district (AlMarfa in Arabic) has an air of neglect. It remains vital to the economic life of modern Beirut but is barely visible to most inhabitants of today’s sprawling, chaotic city.
The light of Amman, Jordan is strikingly similar to many parts of Australia, perhaps derived from the age of both areas – their vibrancy worn by thousands of years of activity.
The light is dry, bright, harsh and shallow – like the contrast has been turned up on the TV. It refracts off the ubiquitous sandy grey surfaces of every building, leaving few shady refuges. The glare is intensified by the doggedly cloudless sky, making you lose sense of distance and scale as the cinder-block buildings roll over the endless hills. Continue reading “The Stamp Collection: Amman’s assault on the senses.”
This series of observational posts derives from diaries I have kept while abroad. The title comes from Tiziano Terzani’s travel epic ‘A Fortune Teller Told Me’. As well as fortune tellers, Terzani acknowledges the usefulness of insights gleaned from conversations with taxi drivers.
Through my own attempts to study Arabic in-country in my undergraduate years I became aware of a shocking lack of support for Australian students interested in studying in the Arab world.
While opportunities for students wishing to study abroad in North America, Europe and increasingly East Asia, are vast, not one Australian university offers students the chance to spend a semester or more on the ground in an Arabic speaking country. Continue reading “Unis need proper links with Arab countries”