Amman

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Amman
عمّان
City
Amman city landmarks, From right to left and above to below: Amman's skyline as seen from Sport city, Temple of Hercules at Amman Citadel, King Abdullah I Mosque and Raghadan Flagpole, Abdoun Bridge,  Umayyad Palace, Ottoman Hejaz Railway station and  Roman theater.
Amman city landmarks, From right to left and above to below: Amman's skyline as seen from Sport city, Temple of Hercules at Amman Citadel, King Abdullah I Mosque and Raghadan Flagpole, Abdoun Bridge, Umayyad Palace, Ottoman Hejaz Railway station and Roman theater.
Flag of Amman
Flag
Official seal of Amman
Seal
Nickname(s):
  • 'The White City'
  • 'The White Pigeon'
[1][2]
خريطة مدينة عمان.png
Amman is located in Jordan
Amman
Amman
Coordinates: 31°56′59″N 35°55′58″E / 31.94972°N 35.93278°E / 31.94972; 35.93278Coordinates: 31°56′59″N 35°55′58″E / 31.94972°N 35.93278°E / 31.94972; 35.93278
Country  Jordan
Governorate Capital Governorate
Founded 7000 BC
Municipality 1909
Government
 • Mayor Aqel Biltaji
Area
 • Total 1,680 km2 (650 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,100 m (3,600 ft)
Lowest elevation 700 m (2,300 ft)
Population (2014)[3]
 • Total 4,000,000
 • Density 3,142.9/km2 (8,140/sq mi)
  [4]
Time zone +2 Eastern European Standard Time
 • Summer (DST) +3 Arabia Standard Time (UTC)
Postal code 11110-17198
Area code(s) +962(6)
Website ammancity.gov.jo

Amman (English pronunciation: /ɑːˈmɑːn/; Arabic: عمّان‎), is the capital and most populous city of Jordan, with an estimated population of 4,000,000 [5] and a land area of 1,680 square kilometres (648.7 sq mi). It is the country's political, cultural and economic center and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is considered to be the most westernized and liberal Arab city. It is a major tourist destination in the region and the capital is especially popular among Persian Gulf tourists and European tourists.[6][7]

The city is located in central-north Jordan and is governed by Greater Amman Municipality, headed by its mayor Aqel Biltaji. It has a total of 27 districts. East Amman is predominantly filled with historical sites that host frequent cultural activities, while the West Amman area is more modern and holds the economic center of the city. Residents of Amman are referred to as Ammanis or by the singular: Ammani.

The recent economic growth experienced in Amman is unmatched by any other Arab city except those located in the Persian Gulf area. Amman is also the administrative seat of the homonymous governorate. Amman is also ranked a Beta− global city on the World city index, the same category as Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Manama.[8]

Amman was named one of the MENA's best cities according to economic, labor, environmental, and socio-cultural factors. Amman is among the most popular locations for multinational corporations to set up their regional offices, alongside Doha and only behind Dubai. Furthermore, it is expected that in the next 10 years these three cities will capture the largest share of multinational corporation activity in the region.[9] Amman was or is the base city for huge multinational corporations such as; Arab Bank, Aramex and Hikma Pharmaceuticals. It is the home for the Amman Stock Exchange, numerous hotels of which many belong to top end international brand names and mega projects like the Abdali Project and the Jordan Gate Towers.

Etymology[edit]

Amman has its name from the 13th century BC when the Ammonites named it Rabbath Ammon with the term Rabbat meaning the Capital or the Kings quarters. The word Rabbath was later dropped, and the capital became known as Ammon. With the influences of more visiting civilizations, the name eventually changed to Amman.[10] In the Hebrew Bible, it is referred to as Rabbat ʿAmmon (Tiberian Hebrew Rabbaṯ ʿAmmôn). However, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Macedonian ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom who reigned from 283 to 246 BC, renamed the city to Philadelphia (Ancient Greek: Φιλαδέλφεια; literally 'brotherly love') after occupying it. The name was given as an adulation to his own nickname, Philadelphus.[11][12]

History[edit]

Neolithic period[edit]

See also: 'Ain Ghazal
One of the oldest statues ever made by human civilization at display in Jordan Archaeological Museum

One of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East was discovered in the outskirts of Amman. Called 'Ain Ghazal, which dates as far back as 7250 BC spanning over an area of 15 hectares. It started as a typical aceramic, Neolithic village of modest size. It was set on terraced ground in a valley-side, and was built with rectangular mud-brick houses that accommodated a square main room and a smaller anteroom. Walls were plastered with mud on the outside, and with lime plaster inside that was renewed every few years.

It was discovered in 1974 by developers who were building a road through the area. Excavation began in 1982 however by this time, around 600 meters (2,000 feet) of road ran through the site. Despite the damage urban expansion brought, what remained of 'Ain Ghazal provided a wealth of information and continued to do so until 1989. One of the more notable archaeological finds during these first excavations came to light in 1983. While examining a cross section of earth in a path carved out by a bulldozer, archaeologists came across the edge of a large pit 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) under the surface containing plaster statues.[13]

'Ain Ghazal is renowned for a set of anthropomorphic statues found buried in pits in the vicinity of some special buildings that may have had ritual functions. These statues are half-size human figures modeled in white plaster around a core of bundled twigs. The figures have painted clothes, hair, and in some cases, ornamental tattoos or body paint. The eyes are created using cowrie shells with a bitumen pupil.[14] In all, 32 of those plaster figures were found in two caches,[14] 15 of them full figures, 15 busts, and 2 fragmentary heads. Three of the busts were two-headed,[14] the significance of the two headed statues is not clear.

Rabbath Ammon[edit]

See also: Ammon
An Ammonite watch tower at Rujm Al-Malfouf in Amman
View of Qasr al Abd

In the 13th century BC Amman was called Rabbath Ammon by the Ammonites. Ammon was the source of numerous natural resources, including sandstone and limestone. It had a productive agricultural sector and occupied a vital place along the king's highway, the ancient trade route connecting Egypt with Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia. As with the Edomites and Moabites, trade along this route gave the Ammonites considerable revenue.[15] Ammonites worshiped an ancient god called Moloch. Excavations by archaeologists uncovered a temple near Amman Civil Airport which included an altar containing many human bone fragments. It was concluded that the altar functioned as a pyre since the bones showed evidence of burning.[16] Today, several Ammonite ruins across Amman exist such as; Qasr al Abd, Rujm Al-Malfouf and some parts of the Amman Citadel. The ruins of Rujm Al-Malfouf consist of a stone tower set up to maintain surveillance on the enemy movements to ensure protection of their capital and several store rooms east of it.[17][18] The city was later conquered by the Assyrians, followed by the Persians.

Hellenistic period[edit]

Conquest of the Middle East and Central Asia by Alexander the Great, firmly consolidated the influence of Hellenistic culture.[19] The Greeks founded new cities in Jordan, such as Umm Qays, Jerash and Amman which was then renamed from Ammon to Philadelphia for brotherly love in Greek, by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Macedonian ruler of Egypt who reigned from 283 to 246 BC who occupied and rebuilt the city. He was supposedly given the nickname of Philadelphus, so it was named Philadelphia after him.[11][12][20]

The village of `Iraq al Amir in the valley of Wadi as-Ser, south-west of Amman, is home to one of the most original monuments in Jordan, and perhaps in the Hellenistic period: Qasr al Abd meaning (castle of the servant). Other nearby ruins includes a village from the same period, an isolated house, a fountain perched on the cliff, which are barely visible today. And a few written sources suggest that the site was the centre of a vast estate belonging to a powerful family, the Tobiads, which extended from Philadelphia to the lower slopes of Wadi al‑Sir, a green valley with a lot of rainfall and rich in agricultural production.

Qasr al Abd is widely believed to have been built by a Tobiad notable, Hyrcanus of Jerusalem, head of the powerful Tobiad family then began the construction of that large prestigious building. But around 170-168 BC, upon returning from a military campaign in Egypt, Antiochus IV, conquered Jerusalem, plundered the Temple where the treasure of Hyrcanus was kept, and seemed to want to fight Hyrcanus. Upon hearing this, Hyrcanus committed suicide leaving his palace uncompleted. We hear no more of the Tobiad family after that date.[21] Afterwards the city became under the Nabatean rule for a short period of time until 106 AD.[20][22]

Roman rule[edit]

Temple of Hercules, Roman Corinthian columns at Amman Citadel.

After Philadelphia was conquered during the Roman conquest of Jordan, Syria and Palestine in 63 BC. This inaugurated a period of Roman control that lasted four centuries. In northern Jordan, the Greek cities of Philadelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), Gadara (Umm Qays), Pella and Arbila (Irbid) joined with other cities in Palestine and southern Syria; Scythopolis (Beth-Shean), Hippos (Hippus or Sussita), Capitolias (Beit Ras), Canatha (Qanawat) and Damascus to form the Decapolis League, a fabled confederation linked by bonds of economic and cultural interest.[11][22] In 106 AD, the Roman Emperor Trajan built a new road from Eilat to Damascus which ran through Philadelphia. This created an economic boom for the city in a short period of time. Later during the Byzantine Period, the city became home to bishops and several churches in the early 7th Century AD.[23] Constantine had converted to the growing religion of Christianity in 333 AD. However, in Jordan, the Christian community had developed much earlier: Pella had been a center of refuge for Christians fleeing persecution in Rome during the first century AD.[22]

The Roman rule of Jordan left numerous ruins across the country, some of which exist in Amman like the Temple of Hercules at the Amman Citadel, the Roman amphitheater, Odeon theater and the Nymphaeum. The two theater and the Nymphaeum fountain were built during the reign of Antonius Pius 138-161 AD. The biggest theater is large and steeply raked, it seats about 6,000 people: built into the hillside, it was oriented north to keep the sun off the audience. To the northeast stands the small Odeon theater. Built at about the same time as the Roman theater, this intimate 500-seat theater is used now as it was in Roman times, for musical concerts. Archaeologists speculate that the building was originally covered with a wooden roof to shield the audience from the weather. Heading southwest from the theater complex, Philadelphia’s chief fountain, or Nymphaeum. Much of the fountain, which was completed in 191 AD, is hidden from public view blocked by buildings. The Nymphaeum is believed to have contained a 600 square meter pool which was three meters deep and was continuously refilled with water. In between these three Roman sites lie the newly constructed Hashemite Plaza which was inaugurated in 2014 by mayor Aqel Biltaji.[24]

Ummayad rule[edit]

The Muslims conquered the area after the fall of the Roman Empire. They founded a limited number of military garrisons. Jordan was given its present name 'el-Urdun' along with the name of its capital 'Amman'. A large part of the population already spoke Arabic, a fact which facilitated integration into the new empire, as well as numerous conversions to Islam. Under the Umayyad caliphs from 661 AD the country was systematically developed by means of the desert castles. There are several of these which are remarkably well preserved in Jordan. Amman already functioned as, where a magnificent palace was built on the Amman Citadel hill which was possibly used as an administrative building or the residence of an Umayyad official. Amman was then destroyed by several earthquakes and natural disasters, including one earthquake in 747 AD, destroying many buildings and perhaps contributing to the defeat of the Umayyads by the Abbasids three years later.[22]

Ottoman rule[edit]

Ottoman Hejaz railway bridge in Amman

During the Ottoman rule Al-Salt city in Northwest Jordan was the political capital of the country. It was only after the departure of the Ottoman rule that the city began flourishing again with settlement of Circassians that came during their exodus in the 20th century.[25][26]

In 20th century between 1872-1910, tens of thousands of Circassians were forcibly relocated to Ottoman Syria coming from historical Circassia by Russia during the events of the Russo-Circassian War.[25][26][27][28] Ottoman records from 1906 shows around 5,000 Circassians living in Amman and virtually no inhabitants who spoke Arabic. This was dramatically changed after the decision from theOttoman Sultan to start construction on the Hejaz railway that links Damascus and Medina, which facilitated both the annual hajj pilgrimage and permanent trade, thus turning Amman from a small village into a major hub in the region back on the commercial map.[29][30]

Under the British Mandate[edit]

Glubb Pasha in Amman in 1940

Under the British Mandate, the population of Amman started to rise. In 1921, king Abdullah I chose Amman instead of Al-Salt as the seat of government for his newly created state, the Emirate of Transjordan, and later as the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This attracted immigrants fom several places. Most from inside the country came from Al-Salt, a city nearby and at that time the largest urban settlement east of the Jordan River. The early settlers who came from Palestine were overwhelmingly from Nablus, of which many had lived in Al-Salt before, and they were joined by a some from Damascus. Amman later also attracted people from the southern part of the country (especially Kerak and Madaba) and also from Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa in Palestine. The city's population was 10,000 in the 1930s.[31]

After Jordanian independence[edit]

Jamal Abdul Nasser Circle in 2013
Amman's skyline in 2013

Jordan gained its independence in 1946 with its designated capital Amman. Amman received many refugees during wartime events in nearby countries, beginning in 1948 with the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. A second wave arrived after the Six-Day War in 1967. A third wave of Palestinian and Jordanian refugees arrived in Amman from Kuwait after the Gulf War of 1991. The first wave of Iraqi refugees settled in the city after the first Gulf War, with a second wave also arriving after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And most recently a wave of Syrian refugees during the Syrian Civil War. All of these had immigrated to Amman to enjoy its security and prosperity.

In 1970, Amman was the site of major clashes between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Jordanian army which ended with Jordanian army victory in 1971 when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was expelled into Lebanon. On 9 November 2005, coordinated explosions rocked three hotel lobbies in Amman, resulting in the death of 60 people and the injury of 115 others. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the act, which was carried out by the now deceased Al-Qaeda militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The sheer brutality of the attacks, which targeted, among other things, a wedding party being held at one of the hotels, caused widespread revulsion across the widest range of Jordanians. Large protests and vigils followed in the wake of the attacks. Afterwards Jordan's security and intelligence devices has improved dramatically, there is a security checkpoint at every hotel. Along with mutual agreements for counter terrorism efforts with Saudi Arabia, West Bank, United States and Egypt. There hasn't been any major terrorist attack in Jordan since then.[32]

During the last 10 years the city has encountered an economical, cultural and urban boom. The number of new buildings within the city has increased dramatically with new districts of the city being founded at a very rapid pace, straining the very scarce water supplies of Jordan as a whole, and exposing Amman to the hazards of rapid expansion in the absence of careful municipal planning.

Today Amman is known as a modern liberal westernized Arab city with major mega projects; Abdali Urban Regeneration Project and Jordan Gate Towers. The city has many top end hotel franchises; Four Seasons Hotel Amman, Sheraton Hotel Amman, Fairmont Amman, St. Regis Hotel Amman, Le Royal Hotel and others. The city is equipped with modern infrastructure; bridges like Abdoun Bridge and tunnels.

Geography[edit]

Spring in an affluent neighbourhood in the capital.
An Orthodox church seen with snow in Amman.

Amman is situated in a hilly area of north-western Jordan. The city was originally built on seven hills, but it now spans over an area of nineteen hills (each known as a Jabal, Tal, Mount or Mountain). The main areas of Amman gain their names from the hills and mountains on whose slopes they lie. The city's elevation changes from mountain to mountain. They range from 700 to 1,100 m (2,300 to 3,600 ft). The mountainous terrain of Amman enforces difficulty when connecting main roads together, causing the need for expensive infrastructure like tunnels and bridges. Amman faces Al-Salt city, Al-Zarqa city northwest and northeast respectively also Madaba to the west and Al-Karak, Ma'an to the southwest and southeast respectively. One of the only remaining springs in Amman now supplies Zarqa River with water.

Climate[edit]

Amman's position on the mountains near the Mediterranean climate zone places it under the semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification: BSk). The city has hot and usually dry summers, whereas the winters are relatively wet and range from mild to cool.[33] Spring is brief and quite warm, where highs clock around 28 °C (82 °F). It usually lasts a little less than a month, from April to May, leading up to a hot stiff summer where temperatures range between 30 °C (86 °F) and 40 °C (104 °F). Summer lows are around 20 °C (68 °F).

Amman has hot summers starting from mid June to early October. Summer's high temperatures averages from 30 °C (86 °F) to 38 °C (100 °F) depending on the elevation, usually with low to moderate humidity. Summers are completely dry with cloudless skies during the noon period.

Winter usually starts in late November or early December and continues from early to mid March. Temperatures are usually near or below 17 °C (63 °F), with snow occasionally falling every other year.

Rain averages about 300mm a year and periodic droughts are common, where most rain fall between October and April. Summer months (May–September) are usually dry.

Winters are usually foggy with at least 120 days of heavy fog per year.[34] Due to the difference in elevation, snow may accumulate in the northern and western parts of Amman (an average altitude of 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above sea level) while at the same time it could be raining at the city center (elevation of 776 m (2,546 ft)). (900 to 1,100 metres (3,000 to 3,600 ft)).

Amman has extreme examples of microclimate, and almost every district exhibits its own weather.[35] It is known among locals that some boroughs such as the northern suburb of Abu Nser are among the coldest in the city, and can be experiencing frost while other warmer districts such as Marka can be providing much warmer temperatures to its inhabitants at the same time.

Amman's weather is comparable to the that of Damascus.

Note: The temperatures listed below are taken from the weather station at the centre of the city which is at an elevation of 767 m (2,516 ft) above sea level. At higher elevations, the temperatures will be lower during winter and higher during summer. For example, in areas such as Al-Jubaiha, Sweileh, Khalda, Abu Nser which are at/higher than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above sea level have average temperatures of 7 to 9 °C (45 to 48 °F) in the day and 1 to 3 °C (34 to 37 °F) at night in January. In August, the average high temperatures in these areas are 25 to 28 °C (77 to 82 °F) in the day and 14 to 16 °C (57 to 61 °F) at night.

Climate data for Amman
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 23.6
(74.5)
28.9
(84)
30.4
(86.7)
36.2
(97.2)
37.9
(100.2)
40.3
(104.5)
44.0
(111.2)
43.8
(110.8)
40.0
(104)
38.2
(100.8)
34.6
(94.3)
26.3
(79.3)
44
(111.2)
Average high °C (°F) 12.3
(54.1)
13.7
(56.7)
17.2
(63)
22.6
(72.7)
27.8
(82)
30.8
(87.4)
32.0
(89.6)
32.4
(90.3)
30.7
(87.3)
27.1
(80.8)
20.4
(68.7)
14.4
(57.9)
23.5
(74.2)
Average low °C (°F) 3.6
(38.5)
4.2
(39.6)
6.1
(43)
9.5
(49.1)
13.5
(56.3)
16.6
(61.9)
18.5
(65.3)
18.6
(65.5)
16.6
(61.9)
13.8
(56.8)
9.3
(48.7)
5.2
(41.4)
11.3
(52.3)
Record low °C (°F) −10.0
(14)
−9.5
(14.9)
−8.2
(17.2)
−2.6
(27.3)
−0.9
(30.4)
3.2
(37.8)
7.0
(44.6)
5.4
(41.7)
0.0
(32)
−1.8
(28.8)
−4.5
(23.9)
−7.8
(18)
−10
(14)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 63.4
(2.496)
61.7
(2.429)
43.1
(1.697)
13.7
(0.539)
3.3
(0.13)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.3
(0.012)
6.6
(0.26)
28.0
(1.102)
49.2
(1.937)
269.3
(10.602)
Average precipitation days 11.0 10.9 8.0 4.0 1.6 0.1 0 0 0.1 2.3 5.3 8.4 51.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 179.8 182.0 226.3 266.6 328.6 369.0 387.5 365.8 312.0 275.9 225.0 179.8 3,298.3
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization[36]
Source #2: Hong Kong Observatory(sun, 1961–1990)[37]

Local government[edit]

City Council[edit]

Amman is governed by a 41-member city council elected in five-year term direct elections. All Jordanian citizens above 18 years old are eligible to vote in the municipal elections. However, the mayor is appointed by the king and not through elections.[10][38] The first City Council was established in Amman in the year 1909 and Amman's first City District Center was founded around the year 1914.[38]

List of mayors of Amman[edit]

Amman City Council and the Greater Amman municipality buildings
Municipality building
Name Term start Term end
1 Ismael Baboq 1909 1911
2 Ahmad Al-Khatib 1911 1915
3 Asaad Hamdokh 1915 1919
4 Ayoub Fakhri Fakher 1919 1920
5 Saeed Kheir 1920 1925
6 Yousef Asfour 1925 1931
7 Taher Al-Jagga 1931 1933
8 Alaa' Al-Deen Toukan 1933 1937
9 Sameh Hijazi 1937 1938
10 Sa'eed Al-Mufti 1938 1939
11 Hisham Kheir 1939 1942
12 Omar Hikmat 1942 1942
13 Subhi Khaleh 1942 1943
14 Omar Zaki Al-Afyouni 1943 1944
15 Ra'fat Dajani 1944 1945
16 Kamal Al-Jayousi 1945 1945
17 Sameh Hijazi 1945 1948
18 Abd Al-Majeed Al-Adwan 1948 1948
19 Hazaa' Al-Majali 1948 1950
20 Farhan Shbeilat 1953 1955
21 Omar Matar 1955 1957
22 Deif Allah Mahmud 1957 1960
23 Husni Sido Al-Kurdi 1960 1962
24 Basheer Al-Sharbagi 1962 1964
25 Ahmad Fawzi 1964 1973
26 Mohammed Touqan 1973 1976
27 Maen Abu Nowar 1976 1979
28 Isam Al-Ajlouni 1980 1982
29 Abdelraouf Al-Rawabdeh 1983 1989
30 Ali Suheimat 1989 1991
31 Mohammed Al-Basheer 1991 1993
32 Mamdouh Al-Abadi 1993 1998
33 Nidal Al-Hadid 1998 2006
34 Omar Maani 2006 2011
35 Amar Gharaibeh 2011 2012
36 Abd Al-Haleem Al-Kilani 2011 2012
37 Aqel Biltaji 2013 present

[39]

Education[edit]

Building inside University of Jordan campus

In 2015, there are as many as 20 universities in Amman. University of Jordan is the largest public university in Amman,[40] Applied Science University is the largest private university. There are many modern private schools in Amman including; Amman Baccalaureate School, Amman National School, Modern American School, International School of Choueifat, American Community School in Amman, National Orthodox School which is attended by majorly Christians but there are also Muslim students in it and many others.

See Also: List of universities in Jordan

Demographics[edit]

Amman has an estimated population of 4,000,000 [5] and a land area of 1,680 km2 (648.7 sq mi), yielding a population density of about 3,000 inhabitants per square kilometre (7,800/sq mi).[4] According to Jordan Department of Statistics the percentage of unemployment is 12.9% and literacy percentage of 92.6%.[41]

Religion[edit]

Amman has a deeply rooted Christian community making about 6% of population while the other 94% are Sunni Muslim. Christians are well integrated in the Jordanian society and have a high level of freedom, though they are not free to evangelize Muslims.[42] They form a significant part of the kingdom's political and economic elite. Christians enjoy high economic and social opportunities in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan compared to the position of some, but not all, of their co-religionists in the rest of the Middle East. Christians are allotted 9 out of a total of 110 seats in the Jordanian parliament,[43] and also hold important ministerial portfolios, ambassadorial appointments, and positions of high military rank. Jordanian Christians are allowed by the public and private sectors to leave their work to attend mass on Sundays. All Christian religious ceremonies are publicly celebrated in Jordan. Christians have established good relations with the royal family and the various Jordanian government officials, and they have their own ecclesiastical courts for matters of personal status.

During the 2004 Amman Message conference, edicts from various clergy-members afforded the following schools of thought as garnering collective recognition; Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi'i, Ja'fari, Zahiri, Zaydi, Ibadi, tassawuf-related Sufism, and genuine Salafi/Muwahhidism.

Districts[edit]

The city is administered as the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) and covers 27 districts which include:[44]

1 Abdali 4 Qweismeh, Al Juwayyidah, Abu Alanda and Raqim 7 Al Muwaqqar 10 Bader Al Jadida 13 Al Jubayha 16 Marka 19 Ohod 22 Shafa Badran 25 Tlaa’ Al Ali
2 Abu Nser 5 Yarmuk 8 Al Muqabalayn 11 Basman 14 Khraybet Al Souq 17 Medina 20 Ras Al Eyn 23 Sweileh 26 Wadi Al Sir
3 Umm-Uthaina 6 Jizah 9 Bader 12 Husband 15 Marj Al Hamam 18 Naur 21 Sahab 24 Tariq 27 Zahran

Cityscape[edit]

A panoramic view of Amman's skyline in 2003, showing several landmarks from left to right; Al-Iskan Bank Building, King Abdullah I Mosque, Zara Towers, Le Royal Hotel, Raghadan Flagpole and Al Burj.

Architecture[edit]

Residential buildings in Khalda

Residential buildings in Amman are a mixture of old and modern, they are obliged to have 4 stories above street level and if possible another 4 stories below according to the Greater Amman Municipality regulations. The buildings are covered with thick white limestone or sandstone.[45] The buildings usually have balconies on each floor with the exception of ground floor which has a front and back yard. Some buildings make use of Mangalore tiles on the roofs or on the roof of covered porches. Hotels, Towers and commercial buildings are either covered by stone, plastic or glass.

High-rise construction and towers[edit]

Jordan Gate Towers as seen from west.
A prototype of both the first and second phases of the Abdali Project

First high-rise towers were constructed in Zahran district, the Jordan Gate Towers. A high class commercial and residential project currently under construction in west Amman, close to the 6th Circle.[46] The towers are one of the best known skyscrapers in the city.[47] The southern tower will also host the Hilton Hotel while the northern tower will host offices, both towers are separated by a podium that is planned to become a mall. It also contains; bars, swimming pools and conference halls. The developers are Bahrain's Gulf Finance House, the Kuwait Investment and Finance Company (KIFC).[48] DTZ, and Al Hamad Contracting Co.[49]

Abdali Urban Regeneration Project in Abdali district will host a mall, a boulevard along with several hotels, commercial and residential towers. Valued at more than US $5 Billion, the Abdali project create a new visible centre for Amman and act as the major business district for the city.[50] The first phase contains about 10 towers, 5 under-construction to be completed by 2016. Abdali is being developed as a smart city center that enables the deliverance of state-of-the-art technologies to each and every home, office and outlet, while offering district energy solutions and central gas systems to guarantee a safe and friendly environment in addition to the large savings in energy cost.[51] Phase II will feature a central dynamic park across 30,000 square meters of land, serving as a focal theme for mainly residential development as well as office, hotel and retail developments over 800,000 square meters.[52]

The towers in first phase include; Rotana Hotel Amman, W Hotel Amman, The Heights Tower, Clemenceau Medical Center tower, Abdali mall tower, Abdali Gateway tower, K tower, Vertex Tower, Capital tower, Saraya headquarters tower and Hamad tower.[53]

The second phase will feature a central dynamic park across 30,000 square meters of land, serving as a focal theme for mainly residential development as well as office, hotel and retail developments over 800,000 square meters.[52]

Economy[edit]

Arab Bank Headquarters in Amman
Rendered picture of the Al Abdali New Downtown which is currently under construction
One of Amman's new up-scale suburbs

Banking Sector[edit]

The banking sector in Jordan is considered one of the main pillars of the Jordanian economy. In spite of the regional unrest and economical difficulties, the well-capitalized and highly regulated banking sector proved resilient, maintaining its expansion and growth. The sector currently consists of 25 banks, 15 of which are listed on the Amman Stock Exchange.[54] Amman is the base city for the huge international Arab Bank, it is considered to be one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East. It serves clients in more than 600 branches in 30 countries on five continents. Arab Bank is a publicly held shareholding company listed on the Amman Stock Exchange, the bank is the highest-ranked by market capitalization and represents 28% of the Amman Stock Exchange.[54]

Tourism[edit]

Amman is the 8th most visited city by tourists and business travelers in the Middle East and Africa as well as the 9th highest recipient of international visitor spending. 1.8 million tourists visited the Jordanian capital in 2011 and spent over $1.3 billion in the city.[55] If the entire kingdom is taken into account, there were 8 million tourists in 2010 and $4.4 billion in visitor expenditure, including medical tourists.[56]

The Greater Amman Municipality's heavy investment in its infrastructure, such as the expansion of Queen Alia International Airport, the construction of a state of the art public transportation system, a national railway, and expansion of road works, will ease the arrival of millions of new visitors and tonnes of cargo through this soon to be regional hub.

Medical Tourism: Amman, and Jordan as a whole for that matter, is the Middle East's hub for medical tourism as the kingdom receives the most medical tourists in the region and the 5th highest in the world. Amman receives 250,000 foreign patients a year and receives over $1 billion annually.[57]

Business[edit]

Amman is positioning itself as a hub for business, and new projects are continually transforming the city's skyline. Following the 2003 Iraq War, a significant portion of business dealings with Iraq flow through Amman in some way. Its airport, Queen Alia International Airport, is the hub of the national carrier, Royal Jordanian, which is a major airline in the region.[58] The airline is headquartered in central Amman.[59] Rubicon Group Holding and Maktoob, two major regional information technology companies, are based in Amman. Along with major international corporations such as; Hikma Pharmaceuticals one of Middle East's largest pharmaceutical companies and Aramex which is the Middle East's largest logistics and transportation company.[60][61] It is also one of the world's largest logistics and transportation companies in the world alongside DHL, FedEx, and UPS.

In a report by Dunia Frontier Consultants, Amman along with Doha and Dubai are the favored hubs for multinational corporations operating in the Middle East and North Africa region.[9] In FDI magazine, Amman was chosen as the Middle Eastern city with the most potential to be a leader in foreign direct investment in the region, beating Dubai.[60] Furthermore, several of the world's largest investment banks have offices in Amman including Standard Chartered, Societe Generale, and Citibank.[62]

Transportation[edit]

With the exception of a functioning railway system, Amman has a railway station as part of the Hejaz Railway. Amman has a developed public and private transportation system. There are two international airports in Amman.

Air[edit]

New Queen Alia International Airport

The main airport serving Amman is Queen Alia International Airport situated about 30 km (18.64 mi) south of Amman and is much larger than Amman Civil Airport which is a one-terminal airport that serves primarily domestic and nearby international routes and the army. Queen Alia International Airport is the major international airport in Jordan and the hub for Royal Jordanian, the flag carrier. Its expansion was recently done and modified, including the decommissioning of the old terminals and the commissioning of new terminals costing $700M, to handle over 16 million passengers annually.[63] It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was rewarded 'the best airport by region: Middle East' and 'the best improvement by region:Middle East' by 2014 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark program.[64]

Roads[edit]

Abdoun Bridge considered one of Amman's landmarks

Amman has an extensive road system, however due to the mountainous terrain it is impossible to connect some main roads together which results in the use of expensive infrastructure like the use of bridges and tunnels. The Abdoun Bridge spans Wadi Abdoun and connects the 4th Circle to Abdoun Circle. It is considered one of Amman's many landmarks. It is the first curved suspended bridge to be built in the country. [65] There are eight famous circles, or roundabouts, that span and connect west Amman. However, the city lacks an operable railway or metro system which causes severe congestion, especially in old Amman. To add to the congestion, all the Kingdom's highways pass through Amman, further increasing traffic in the capital. [66]

Bus Rapid Transit[edit]

Currently under construction are dedicated lanes for bus services which will operate as part of the new urban rapid transit network (bus rapid transit). The system includes high-quality stations and stops; express buses that can carry more than 120 passengers and will run on a three-minute frequency during peak hours along Amman’s busiest corridors; terminals and park-n-ride facilities, and an integrated fare collection system allowing passengers to pay the fare at stations before embarking on the bus.[67] The BRT is planned to run along three major corridors. The first corridor connects Sweileh with Mahatta via Sport City with major service to the University of Jordan. The second corridor connects Sport City with downtown at Ras El-Ain. The third corridor connects Customs Square with Mahatta.[68]

There are also plans to construct a three-line metro system in Amman. The first phase consists of two lines, the red and green lines, connecting east, central and west Amman with an interchange station (linking the two lines) at Amman Plaza with connections to the northern and southern suburbs. The second phase consists of the yellow line, connecting north and south Amman with an interchange to the red and green lines at the Abdali and City Hall stations.

Bus and Taxi[edit]

Public transport buses in Amman

The city has frequent bus connections to other cities in Jordan, as well as to major cities in neighboring countries; the latter are also served by service taxis. Internal transport is served by a number of bus routes and taxis. Service taxis, which most often operate on fixed routes, are readily available and inexpensive. The two main bus and taxi stations are Abdali (near the King Abdullah Mosque, the Parliament and Palace of Justice) and the newly built Raghadan Central Bus Station near the Roman Amphitheatre in the city centre. Popular Jordanian bus company services include; JETT and Al-Mahatta. Taxis are the most common way to get around in Amman due its high availability and inexpensiveness. [69]

Culture[edit]

City Mall, one of Amman's mega malls

Museums[edit]

Most famous museum in the city is the Jordan Archaeological Museum that contains some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of 'Ain Ghazal and a copy of Mesha Stele. Others include; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, The Children's Museum Jordan, Amman Martyr's Memorial, Jordan Folklore Museum and Museums at the University of Jordan.[70]

Lifestyle[edit]

Amman is considered one of the most westernized and liberal cities in the Arab World. Amman has become one of the most popular destinations for Western expats and college students who seek to live, study, or work in the Middle East or the Arab World in general.[71][72] The city's culinary scene has expanded from its shawerma stands and falafel joints to embrace many popular American restaurants and fast-food outlets like McDonald's and T.G.I. Friday's,[73] Asian fusion restaurants, French bistros such as La Maison Verte and Italian trattorias. The city has become famous for its fine dining scene among Western expats and Persian Gulf tourists. Alcohol is widely available in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and even supermarkets.[74]

There are numerous nightclubs and bars across the city especially in West Amman. As of 2011, there were 77 registered nightclubs in Jordan (excluding bars and pubs), overwhelmingly located in the capital city.[75] There are 222 registered liquor stores in Amman [76]

Souk JARA is one of the most famous outdoor markets managed by the Jabal Amman Residents Association (JARA)

Large malls were built during the 2000s in Amman, including the Mecca Mall, Abdoun Mall, Amman Mall, City Mall, Plaza Mall, Al-Baraka Mall, Istikal Mall, Taj Mall, Zara Shopping Center, Avenue mall, and Mukhtar Mall. Further, Abdali Mall in Al Abdali is under construction. The Wakalat Street ("Agencies Street") is Amman's first pedestrian-only street and carries a lot of label name clothes. The Sweifieh area in general is considered to be the main shopping district of Amman.

Nightlife[edit]

Nightclubs, music bars and shisha lounges have sprouted across Amman, changing the city's old image as the conservative capital of the kingdom. Jordan's young population is helping shape this new burgeoning nightlife scene.[77]

As well as the wide range of drinking and dancing venues on the social circuit of the city's affluent crowd, Amman has much cultural entertainment to indulge in like raves including the annual Amman Summer Festival. Souk Jara is a Jordanian annual weekly flea market event that occurs every Friday throughout Summer.[78] Abdoun Circle (not one of the eight) is a major center of the city’s night life where the chicest clubs maintain a strict “couples only” policy, meaning no un-escorted men. Sweifieh is considered to be the unofficial red-light district of Amman as it holds most of the city's nightclubs, bars, strip-clubs, massage parlors, and other adult entertainment venues. Jabal Amman and Jabal al-Weibdeh are home to many pubs and bars as well making the area popular among bar hoppers.[74]

Cuisine[edit]

Traditional mezzeh

The New York Times praised the cuisine of Amman. "You’ll find the bright vegetables from Lebanon, crunchy falafels from Syria, juicy kebabs from Egypt and, most recently, spicy meat dishes from Jordan’s neighbor, Iraq. It’s known as the food of the Levant — an ancient word for the area bounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian peninsula. But the food here isn’t just the sum of its calories. In this politically, religiously and ethnically fraught corner of the world, it is a symbol of bloodlines and identity."[79]

More recently, there has been growing interest in Organic and 'Natural' food (i.e. hormones and chemical free food). This is due to the growing global and local concerns regarding the use of hormones, chemicals, and GMO seeds in industrial agriculture. One way of accessing Organic and Natural Food is through membership schemes offered by Jabbok Farms.[80] Other ways include seasonal farmers markets and retail sales through high-end supermarkets and health stores.

Music[edit]

Away from mainstream Arabic Pop there is a growing independent music scene in the city, by many bands that have big audiences across the Arab World. Local Ammani bands along with other bands in the Middle East gather up in the Roman Amphitheater during the Al-Balad Music Festival held annually in August. Music genres of the local bands are diverse ranging from Heavy Metal to Arabic Rock, Jazz and Rap. Examples include; JadaL, Torabyeh, Bilocate, Akher Zapheer, Autostrad and El Morabba3.[81]

Sports[edit]

A panoramic view of Amman International Stadium in the Sport City.

Amman-based football clubs Al-Wehdat and Al-Faisaly have won the national football league championship several times.

The 2007 Asian Championships in Athletics and 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships were held in the city.

Amman hosts the Jordan Rally, which form part of the FIA World Rally Championship, becoming the biggest sporting event ever held in Jordan. Amman also hosts the Sama Tournament which is a part of the Trillium Championship.

Amman will host the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup along with Irbid and Zarqa.[82][83]

Amman is home to a growing number of foreign sports like Skateboarding and Rugby which has two teams based in the city; Amman Citadel Rugby Club and Nomads Rugby Club.[84] In 2014, German non-profit organization Make Life Skate Life completed construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, a 650 square meters concrete skatepark located at Samir Rifai park in downtown Amman.[85]

Media[edit]

There are many radio stations in Jordan, mostly based in Amman. The majority of English speaking stations are targeted to suit the younger listeners playing hit music. There are many Arabic speaking stations that cover the Religious, Factual, Arabic music and other general local topics:

Most Jordanian newspapers and news stations are situated in Amman. Most Jordanian daily newspapers are published in Amman such as Alghad,[86] Ad-Dustour,[87] and the The Jordan Times.[86] In 2010, Alghad newspaper was ranked as 10th most popular newspaper in the Arab World by Forbes Middle-East magazine.[88] Al-Arab Al-Yawm is the only daily pan-Arab newspaper in Jordan. The two most popular Jordanian TV channels; Ro'ya TV and JRTV are based in Amman.

Events[edit]

Many famous events take place in Amman like the second part of Jerash festival, Al-Balad Music Festival and New Think Festival. The New Think Festival is a yearly weekend event that is part of NewThink, a non-profit initiative that aims to inspire youth to think about the world in an innovative way. The festival is one of the many events throughout the year to get youth involved. In 2015 the festival hosted 13 different organizations at King Hussein Business Park in Amman that inspired their audience to be visionary and think differently about the world through presentations and workshops. There were a variety of organizations ranging from business, environmental, medical and educational groups.[89]

Main sights [90] [91][edit]

Hand of Hercules at the temple of Hercules in Amman Citadel.

Much of Amman's tourism is focused in the older downtown area, which is centred around the old souk (a colourful traditional market) and the King Hussein Mosque. The main touristic sites in the city are:

Roman theater in Amman at night
  • The city centre area (known locally as Al-Balad) has been completely dwarfed by the sprawling urban area that surrounds it. Despite the changes, much remains of its old character. Jabal Amman is a known touristic attraction in old Amman, the capital's greatest souks, fine museums, ancient constructions, monuments, and cultural sites are found in Jabal Amman. Jabal Amman also contains famous Rainbow street and the cultural Souk Jara market.
  • The Amman Citadel, known as Jabal al-Qal'a, is home to the Temple of Hercules which is said to have been constructed under the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who reigned from 161 to 180 AD, is similar to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. It has been inhabited for centuries, important as a military and religious site. It dates back to Roman and Byzantine times, and later work was carried out in the early Islamic era. Remains unearthed at the northern and eastern ends of the Citadel, possibly date back to the Bronze Age.
  • The Roman theatre — the largest theatre in Jordan — with room for 6,000 spectators, the 500 seat Odeon theater, the Nymphaeum fountain and the Hashemite Plaza that lies in between all three. The theaters are thought to have been built between 138 and 161 AD by the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, the largest was constructed into the side of the mountain and is still used for sports displays, musical concerts and cultural events.
  • The newest of mosques is the enormous King Abdullah I Mosque, built between 1982 and 1989. It is capped by a magnificent blue mosaic dome beneath which 3,000 Muslims may offer prayer. The most unusual mosque in Amman is the Abu Darweesh Mosque atop Jabal Ashrafieh (the highest point in the city). It is covered with black and white checkered pattern and is unique to Jordan. It is visible from quite some distance. In contrast, the interior is totally free of the black and white scheme. Instead, there are light coloured walls and Persian carpets. This religious building was erected by one of Amman's Circassian minority.
Wakalat Street

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Amman is twinned with:[92][93]

Notable people born in Amman[edit]

Journalist Ola Al-Fares
Politician Nasser Judeh
Main category: People from Amman

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]