20. Visiting Amman

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I’ve often heard it said that Amman is one of the most boring cities in the Arab world. That judgement is not altogether untrue, it somewhat lacks the key ingredient that makes the Middle East the richest place in the world: history. Modern-day Amman has barely been around since the 18th century, practically an embryo when compared to Damascus, which is the oldest inhabited city in the world, not to mention Baghdad, Jerusalem, Cairo et al. They also say Amman seems to lacks culture: the markets aren’t as bustling, the mosques aren’t as beautiful and the food (a big part of Arabic society) isn’t as flavoursome and there are malls, MacDonald’s and brands galore.

Having said that, Amman’s young history is precisely why its people are carving out their own. Jordan – especially Amman – is a nation of refugees. Over 60% of the population are Palestinian refugees, be it from the Nakba (1948), 1967 or any of the other contentious points in the demise of Palestine. Since then there has been an influx of Iraqis post-2003 and (of late) Syrians, not to mention the six million economic migrants from Egypt.

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