Will one of Jordan’s oldest districts lose its cultural charms?

Many of Weibdeh’s frequent visitors are concerned about it becoming overly commercial due to the growing number of new venues. (Photo courtesy: http://wikitravel.org)

One of Jordan’s most famous and oldest districts, Jabal Al-Weibdeh, is a prime spot for flourishing art and culture, attracting a number of locals and tourists. Located in the capital Amman, it is home to some of the trendiest, local cafes, restaurants, and art galleries.

Many of Weibdeh’s frequent visitors, however, are concerned about it becoming overly commercial due to the growing number of new venues, hoping the area can withhold its original charm.

Situated among ancient homes and pine trees, Jabal Al-Weibdeh attracts many. There are coffee houses, teashops, restaurants, and art galleries. All spots are tightly packed onto narrow, one-way streets, encouraging visitors to park their cars and stroll through the capital’s historic neighborhood.

Jabal Al-Weibdeh

Jabal Al-Weibdeh

Some of Jabal Al-Weibdeh’s most favored attractions include Darat Al Funun, Rakwet Arab, and Beit Sitti.

Launched in 1988, Darat al-Funun is a space for the arts and artists of Jordan and the Arab world. They aim to provide a platform for contemporary Arab artists, support art practices and artistic exchange, stimulate critical discourse, and research, document, and archive Arab art. The Darat al Funun team also organizes various projects including, exhibitions, talks, films, and workshops, as well as offer a PhD fellowship and artist residencies.

Some of Jabal Al-Weibdeh’s most favored attractions include Darat Al Funun, Rakwet Arab, and Beit Sitti.

Some of Jabal Al-Weibdeh’s most favored attractions include Darat Al Funun, Rakwet Arab, and Beit Sitti.

Rakwet Arab is a traditional restaurant popular for its delicious Arab cuisine and shishas. Its warm, cozy atmosphere, complemented with its decorative tiles and colorful terrace offers an ideal ambiance for friendly gatherings and extended conversations.

Established in 2010, Beit Sitti first began when three sisters collaborated to keep their grandmothers’ legacy alive by passing on the recipes she taught them to others. It offers a cook and dine experience where customers learn to cook a four-course Arabic meal which they later eat and enjoy.

Beit Sitti is renowned for hiring local women to help teach patrons how to cock traditional dishes, while in return helping them become part of the workforce in order to support themselves and their families financially.

Jabal Al-Weibdeh

Jabal Al-Weibdeh

Last August, Jordan’s Queen Rania joined a group of orphans in a group cooking class at Beit Sitti restaurant. Her Majesty posted on her Instagram account: “Great fun this afternoon with some lovely children from the King Hussein Charity Society for Orphans at Beit Sitti, as they cooked maqloubeh: a wonderful Arab dish of eggplants, meat, and rice.”

Some of Jabal Al Weibdeh’s residents and visitors, however, are worried about the growing number of new venues.

Mais Salhi, a former owner of a restaurant in Jabal Al-Weibdeh said: “Weibdeh is becoming more and more commercial. I had a business there in 2006 and the change is quite obvious, and I believe that this is only the beginning. It always starts with the artsy crowd, the locals, and the expats living and hanging out in a quiet, old and authentic area. Then, these areas capture the eyes of the investors and the mainstream crowd.”

“Over the past few years, Jabal Al-Weibdeh has gotten much busier than before- there are many new restaurants and cafes that have opened in the area, which has caused a lot more traffic. Weibdeh has always been recognized and loved by many people for being the quiet, chill area, but it has gotten a lot more commercial now with all these new places, which really worries me,” Jabal Al-Weibdeh resident Norma Matalka said.

For many years, Amman’s historic Jabal Al-Weibdeh neighborhood has garnered widespread popularity for its art and culture scene, uniting locals and foreigners in the heart of Jordan’s capital. Concerned about commercial expansion in the area, many of its goers are hoping that it can safeguard its unique charm.
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51
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