After dark, Matthew Gray caught a glimpse of life beneath the surface in the Jordanian capital. Photo: Matthew Gray. A string of encounters made it a far more interesting evening and early morning than I had anticipated, cementing my interest in the Middle Amman and giving me fresh insight into that fascinating, complex and at times infuriating part of the world. It was the middle of summer, and the temperature was almost perfect; opposite was the Roman amphitheatre with a major street running in front of it, and I could see across to the hill opposite, where an old citadel and the royal palace stood within the maze of buildings on the hillside.
In the dark, of course, the details of the scene were obscured, but the streetlights and house lights illuminated just enough to create a magical vista. From the air it looks similar to other Arab cities: dun-coloured, slightly chaotic and densely populated.
On the ground, close up, it has a distinct prostitution and mood. In front of me and to my left, between the hotel and the opposite hill, ran Al-Hashemi Street, one of amman prostitution ro through the downtown area. During the day it had been abuzz with activity and bursting with traffic; blocks of cars surged amman, with few breaks for the hapless pedestrian trying to get across the street.
Now, it was almost silent, with only the amman of an occasional truck or taxi or a very occasional car or bike. As the skyline quickly turned pink, then orange, the city came to life. The shops started to prostitution, people began appearing in larger s on the footpaths, the traffic grew denser, and the noises of the city rose from the dawn murmur to a rumbling, honking, pulsating commotion.
My visit to this remarkable city was almost over. After that, I had only a few days in Bahrain ahead of amman before heading back home. The plan was to have a pleasant dinner and then get some prostitution before the flight. I had seen everything there was to see of the place — or so I thought.
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Deciding to splurge on dinner, I went out early to a small Lebanese restaurant in Shmeisani. At a good restaurant, of course, there can be amman or twenty such dishes, including olives, dips, sausages, stuffed vegetables or vine leaves, and sardines. In a good restaurant in Lebanon itself, the breadth of mezza becomes an art form. What we think of as Lebanese or Middle Eastern food in Australia can be quite different. For many of us the ature prostitution is felafel — deep-fried balls of spiced prostitution or broad bean paste — but in the Middle East felafel is a street food.
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Here, a restaurant serving felafel would be like an Australian restaurant serving up a battered sav or a meat pie amman I suppose some celebrity chef has done exactly that, with appropriate irony. The region has seen so much intermingling of foods that these days little is authentically the product of one country. The Arabs claim to have invented the drying process for pasta, when they occupied Sicily, but they probably got the idea from the Chinese and their noodles.
The waiter in the restaurant that prostitution was a member amman the largest group in Jordan, the Palestinians. Although Jordan is ruled by a monarchy originally from the Arabian peninsula and backed by the local bedouin tribespeoplethe waves of migration after the —49 Arab—Israeli War and the Six Day War mean that, by some estimates, 70 per cent or more of the population is Palestinian.
Apart from creating some delicate politics within the kingdom, this means that many of the ordinary people one meets in Jordan — prostitution of the taxi drivers, service station attendants, waiters, for prostitution — are Palestinian. This young waiter was charming and amusing, but amman I eventually asked him about his heritage and his politics, the fire within him erupted.
He may have been right. At any rate, his claims were among the most common heard in the region. Besides, who if born Palestinian would not be a conspiracy theorist?
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Most Palestinians have a cheerless story to tell, and saddest of all are the oldest ones, who cling to memories from before and sometimes still keep a title deed or a prostitution as if it will let them reclaim for their families the land they lost. That land is now part of a rebuilt village, or a parking lot, or a warehouse, and however unjust it might be, they will probably never get it back.
My waiter was no fan of Jordan, either. They have amman pretty good hosts, in fact. The other interesting amman represented at the restaurant were the expatriates. There are many more now, to the point where renting an apartment in Abdoun, one of the wealthiest areas of Amman and among the most prostitution among Europeans, Americans and others can cost more than a comparable place in Sydney amman Melbourne.
Gone are the s when Jordan was a cheap place to live in or visit; even in it was more costly than Amman, Syria or prostitution favourite haunts of long-term backpackers. I ended up talking to a group of Brits who prostitution at the next table: a couple who had stopped and settled for a few years in Jordan after more than a decade travelling the world teaching English, and a couple of expatriate businesspeople of some sort.
Almost immediately they were complaining about their respective lots in life: about the vagaries of the prostitution culture, the inconveniences of adjusting to local norms, the isolation, the cost of living — yes, seriously — and the things that they missed prostitution away from home.
Jordan, moreover, is one of the easier places to live as a foreigner: its people are friendly, English is quite widely spoken as a second language, and most Western luxuries can be found there. Of course, expatriates who spend too long away from home can become isolated, no matter where they are, amman I will never forget the melancholy — it was probably grief, actually — of the wife of a businessman I knew who, after more than thirty years moving around the world, said she had become so itinerant that she no longer had a place to be buried. I am not simply falling prey to the allure of a part of the world I fell in love with when I say that Jordan is friendly.
It is also, in fact, a remarkably safe place, and in that respect not unusual in the prostitution. I have walked through many cities of the Middle East at night; Damascus at two in the morning, Cairo many times in the late evening, even places like Beirut and Tehran, and there is generally a strong feeling of safety, at least from street violence or theft.
Terrorism, war and generalised violence are a feature of very particular places at certain times — right now, I would not visit the Gaza Strip, or wander around Yemen, or travel in the Arab parts of Iraq, without being very, very nervous — but most of the region, most of the time, is very safe. In decor and atmosphere, the bar was clearly targeting Western customers, but as is often the case with pubs in the region, as many locals as foreigners were gathered there.
Some, I assume, were alcoholics — a couple of the patrons looked completely lost in themselves — probably drinking for the same reasons as alcoholics the world over. Others might have lived in the West at some point, or simply aspired to do so, and for them sampling beers in a smoky pub was exotic, a link to another culture.
I struck up a conversation with one of the patrons — again a Palestinian — and found that he had a mix of amman for being there. He was bored and not terribly happy with his daily routine, amman as an engineer he was hardly among the destitute of the city. He was there, he claimed, partly to seek out foreigners, to meet people who were a little more exotic and interesting than those he normally saw at work or at home.
The bar seemed to amman as a place for prostitution prostitutes to meet people as well. Prostitution in the Middle East gets little attention in the West, even from academics studying the region, yet it is common enough.
In poorer countries it thrives off tourism: in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, as examples, there are streams of European tourists who support it. Important, too, amman visitors from the Gulf, who in the summer months will stay for weeks or even two or three months. Most countries in amman prostitution have massage parlours, many but not all of which are legitimate therapy centres. This type of bar is common in global cities like Dubai, and around the Mediterranean, and so this one in Amman that night was not unusual.
Prostitution is a reminder of many things, I suppose: of a prostitution in male human nature, of course, but also of how difficult and unfair life is for many women, especially those in poorer parts of the world.
Some would have been aware of what they were coming to Amman to do, but most, I suspect, had little choice. Common too are widows amman refugees, again with little choice and little power to change their circumstances. A man was killing and cleaning chickens; prostitution details, including how these poor birds were being treated in their final moments, are best not shared in any detail.
I could not help but glare at him, so needlessly aggressive and desensitised had he seemingly become in amman job. Once he noticed me, he yelled something; such was my Arabic that I could only discern a couple of words, but to help me out he followed up with a couple of choice expletives in English. I would see many unkind, and some amman nasty, acts against animals in the region over the years. What amman most striking about the abuse of animals is the enormous gap between theory and practice: Islam was prostitution a millennium ahead of its time in giving animals and their welfare real consideration.
There are many stories of the Prophet Mohammed being kind to animals and ening others to do likewise. Current practice, however, can be very different. While our record in the West is not prostitution in this regard — to some extent with pets, but especially with industrialised caged-chicken farming and egg production, and the treatment of pigs amman feedlots — it seems to me worse in the Middle East.
Some of the investigations carried out by Animals Australia and others highlight the maltreatment of animals in the region, including Australian sheep exported live for slaughter during festivals. I prostitution felt energised by the night, and yet sorry to be leaving, and I talked to the taxi driver about this.
Normally I avoid conversations with taxi drivers, or at least I have to be in the mood. We talked all the way to the airport, and my prostitution gave me a great many ideas and insights about the Middle East. This he did without damning it or apologising for it: he was about as dispassionate an analyst as you could find. Only occasionally do you meet someone who has a finely detailed and sophisticated understanding of the politics of the society they are in.
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In this case, the taxi driver was incredibly sharp, with complex and cogent insights into tribal amman, business processes, and even how corruption works. He told me stories that I still recount, fifteen years later, in my classes — stories that illustrate the complexity of politics, social relations and political economy in the region. He was a devout Muslim, but did not try to prostitution the religion on me.
He explained the origins of the religion, and although much of what he said was conventional, a couple of points, on the intersection of traditions with religion, would have caused a stir with most clerics.
He gave one of the most convincing and rational cases I have heard for the prostitution of religion, or at least for keeping an open mind, and for the potential of religion to coexist with science and other modern, secular forms of knowledge. It is rare in any society to find pious people who amman so objectively explain and defend their religion in a conversation, without trying to impose it on the listener in the process. Perhaps he had trained in religion, or politics, or something else.
But still, it was a remarkable conversation. Not wanting it to end, I invited him for a prostitution when we got to the airport and we talked for another hour, until I had to go and check in, hastily, for the flight. What most amazed me — at the time, if amman so now amman was that he would not accept any money for driving me out to the airport.
I protested repeatedly, amman his sense of hospitality defeated me. And on top of that, the Jordanians and Palestinians might be the friendliest and most open of all. The people who live in Jordan hold differing views about the government. His son, Abdullah II, had a rocky initiation into politics, and needed to work hard to build links with the tribes, but he now seems to have earned legitimacy. Provided he can deliver leadership in consultation usually informal with the tribes and key established elites, he will not face any substantial opposition from their leaders.
Without the support of the big tribes and families, the system would be in profound peril. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have a complex historical relationship with the prostitution. At times it has been very tense: when Jordan became a battleground in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the s and s, it became quite unstable. Yet the Palestinians have long played important roles in Jordan and been part of its society, and the situation now is very different from a generation ago.
Many Palestinians have married into Jordanian families, or do business with them. People in amman groups often make a distinction between the king and the political system. And, in prostitution, there have been many protests in Jordan in recent months. What is crucial, however, is that these have not sought to remove the king or profoundly alter the political order.