Friday, July 25, 2008

Wandering Amman on Holy Friday

Mohammed my new friend offered to drive me around Amman, and try finally to get my bearings. He took me to his neighborhood where thousands of Palestinians have lived since their diaspora.

Driving past another Palestinian refugee camp near the center of Amman, Jordan.

The amount of construction going on in Amman amazed me. I have been staying in the old city so a drive into the rich area made me question whether the real estate business in Jordan has benefited by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees.

This is the construction site of the new super mall financed by the brother of Queen Noor.

Friday is the Holy and holiday in all Muslim countries. Many though not all stores are closed, government offices are closed, it’s the weekend. So today I thought I would drive around Amman with a friend of mine, Mohammed who is a Palestinian born in Qatar but is not allowed citizenship, instead he holds a Jordanian passport. He was in Qatar during the 1st Gulf War and told me how for a year most residents were not able to leave their homes. The Iraqi soldiers were brutal, they stole, they imprisoned and they terrorized the people of Qatar. He told me of how to make ends meet he would drive over 1000 km to Baghdad to buy cigarettes. On one of these trips he was stopped by Iraqi soldiers who made him give them 3 of the 10 boxes of cigarettes, it was that or come back empty handed. Finally, his family moved to Amman, Jordan where he got a job as a taxi driver and later as a bus driver for the tourism board of Jordan. He now lives alone in Qatar managing 3 restaurants, his family lives in Jordan because Qatar is too expensive.

While driving around the “new city of Amman” I noticed the amazing amount of building that is going on. It reminded me of Dubai. I asked Mohammed about this, he says that many investors do come of the Emirates.

I started thinking that it may have more to do with the influx of Iraqi refugees, the amount of money the UNHCR and other organizations have invested in the government structures such as schools, hospitals and yes housing. The amount of Iraqis renting homes fuels the real estate market here. Though yes the rent the Iraqis pay is cheap, it fuel the economy because all cheap housing is full! I will start asking around about this.

No comments: