maandag 31 augustus 2015

'Ahl al Kitaab'

Salaam ailekum!

My whole life I have been greeting people with these words: Salaam ailekum, peace be with you.
In Israel they say: Shalom, peace. A wonderful way to great the other! In Europe and America we say: Hello.. If we even say it.. Jordan is an Islamic/Arabic country in which the people greet each other the same way I opened my blog. Our tour guide for the week (Omar A'lamet, a Christian Jordanian) told me that not all the people in Jordan use the greeting salam ailekum. Why is that?

According to the US department of state,roughly about 95% of the inhabitants people is Islamic and 6% is Christian, the remaining 1% is Jewish.This fact immediately grabbed my attention. Can the 'people of the book' or 'Ahl al Kitaab' live next to each other without issues?2. I was wondering about this before I even came to Jordan but on the second day of my stay in Amman I all ready knew the answer: of course!

But still I was surprised to find a giant (Coptic)church next to the biggest mosque in Amman! I was also happy to learn from the Islamic people in the streets that they don't find the presence of the churches and Christians offensive and that they welcome everyone! Nevertheless, the Christian population in Jordan (and other Arabic countries) often do not reply with Ailekum Salem ("and peace be upon you") to the greeting but just with ahlan bikoem ("welcome to you") and greet with Kief Ah-lek (how are you). A nice fact to share with my followers.

What I actually want to share with you today is that after this trip I realized again how 'narrow minded' the people are whom are not able to 'accept' other people from other religions or descent (especially in Europe).  Even though only 6% of the Jordanian people are Christian, the Christian people still live in peace, in a country surrounded by chaos and ruin. Something that WE in Europe actually can learn from! As the assistent-director of the Baptism site (Rustum Mkhjian) said: Forget all the hate and spread the message of love and peace!

Salam ailekom!

2. Quran (3:110)

woensdag 26 augustus 2015

Scammers and screaming drivers

And then we finally, after months of preparation, arrived at Queen Alia airport in Amman, Jordan.
Of course most of my dear readers have been on an airport before. Airports are actually always quite similar. The same grumpy customs officers, multiple shops to buy souvenirs and the eternal struggle with your luggage. But at my arrival in Amman there was an instant, unpleasant, encounter with the selling agents of an exchange office (for money). Let me share my first experiences and impressions in Jordan with you!

After Sophie and I got swindled by this salesman we went to the customs office to get an entry visa for Jordan. The strange thing is, that you actually need Jordanian Dinars (the local currency) to buy this entry visa. After the usual questions about our reason of visit and places we will stay, our passports got, the so much valued (40 JOD = approx. 63 Eu!), stamp for the entry visa and we continued our way in to Jordan. It immediately struck me that everything looked very 'Middle-East'. Then I mean Middle-East from a western point of view. Because of my father I have watched a lot of Al Jazeera (the news channel) in my life, so I was not surprised by the chaotic traffic and the amount of Asian cars. Nevertheless I was surprised by the bad road from the airport to Amman. I expected this road to be a good one since the floor at the Queen Alia airport, at which we arrived, was literary shining from the amount cleaning products they use.

I could not help but smile when I heard people shouting at each other in Arabic in the Ammanni traffic. All this shouting and swearing in Arabic can sound a bit scary for someone who visits an Arabic country for the first time, but for me it actually felt like coming home. I could already hear my friends back home compare the streets of Amman with a map from the popular shooter game call of duty: modern warfare.  After we checked in at our hostel in the downtown of Amman,it was all ready 00.30 a.m. and everything around our hostel was closed. But of course in a Capital of a nation there is always someplace where there is life. I only had to walk about 3 blocks to run in to a lively street: King Hussein 1 avenue. There were a lot of children and woman in the streets on that hour, but of course the bars and shops were manned by men. I chose a nice restaurant typical Middle-Eastern restaurant to have dinner and got served with an excellent meal of falafel and humus with olive oil and bread. I only payed around 3 JOD for the meal, and cheap food is the ideal way to make a dutchie happy ;). The people in the restaurant were really nice and asked me several times if the food was good enough and where I am from after the notice the Moroccan accent. They all like the fact that a Moroccan brother is visiting their country and all wished me a pleasant stay in Jordan.

After the meal it was time to get back to the hostel and get some sleep. When I eventually was laying in bed I could not help again to smile and think "This is going to be a great week!"

Ma'a Salam!

dinsdag 25 augustus 2015

Who's world is this?

Salam ailekum!

"The older you get, the wiser you become", I believe that starting my blog with this sentence is the proper way to express my feelings at this moment. Some people, unfortunately, don't get wiser the older they become. I have always said that one of the best ways to give people more 'acknowledgment' to the world and its people is to book them a flight to an unknown destination and wish them good luck. Travelling opens the mind and forces people to communicate with each other, and therefore makes them understand each other more and more.

But of course I know that not everyone is able to travel around the world or to travel to an unfamiliar country.1 Therefore I am grateful that I am granted an opportunity to participate in the summer school 'passions of tourism' in Jordan from the Honours College of the University of Groningen, led by dr. Dorina Buda. As the name already states, the summer school is about tourism. I know what people are thinking right now: "what is there to teach on tourism?". Well, enough! Tourism has a huge impact on the social and economical aspects of a region and maybe even a whole country.2 You can ask yourself for example what the difference is between begin a tourist and being a traveler.

As part of the summer school program I will write a blog about my tourist encounters and some aspects of tourism connected to the taught theories. The focus of this particular blog is actually on something else: the difference and equality between Morocco and Jordan. "Why Morocco?" Al tough I have lived in the Netherlands my whole live my roots lay in Morocco and I have been there many many times. I find my current trip to Jordan the ideal opportunity to lay down the differences and similarities between these two countries. Especially because there was just a week between my trips. Therefore I chose 'difference in equality' as my blog title. The title may sound a bit strange but I translated it directly from Arabic. A language these two countries share.

I hope that you will enjoy reading my short blog posts on this subject that I will try to post trough out my journey in Jordan. I am actually writing this post in Jordan and after my first day in this lovely country I am realizing (again) how important and fun travelling to an 'unknown' destination can be. Want to know more about my adventures in the Levant? Then follow my blog and let me reveal to you the beauty of Morocco and Jordan.

"Who's world is this? it's yours, the world is yours!"  - N.A.S.

a typical "I have been to Jordan" picture

1. Edenstor, T. (2009). Tourism. Elsevierp.301-303
2. Idem, p.303