Art, cinema, museums and music in Jordan
Many institutions in Jordan aim to raise cultural awareness of Jordanian art and represent Jordan’s artistic movements in fields such as painting, sculpture, graffiti and photography. The art scene has developed in recent years and Jordan has become a haven for artists from surrounding countries. In January 2016, a Jordanian film called Theeb was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards for the first time.
The largest museum in Jordan is the Jordan Museum. It contains much of the country’s valuable archaeological finds, including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of ‘Ain Ghazal and a copy of the Mesha Stele. Most museums in Jordan are located in Amman, including The Children’s Museum Jordan, The Martyr’s Memorial and Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum. Museums outside Amman include the Aqaba Archaeological Museum. The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is a major contemporary art museum in Amman.
Music in Jordan is now developing with many new bands and artists now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music. The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers. The pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained great international popularity. There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arab music bands that dominate the scene in the Arab world, including El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Ayloul.
Sport in Jordan
Football is the most popular sport in Jordan. The national football team has improved in recent years, although they have not yet qualified for the World Cup. In 2013, Jordan lost the chance to play in the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Uruguay in the inter-association playoffs. This was Jordan’s highest advancement in World Cup qualifying rounds since 1986.The women’s football team is also gaining prestige and was ranked 58th in the world in March 2016. Jordan hosted the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2016, the first sports tournament for women in the Middle East.
Lesser-known sports are gaining popularity. Rugby is becoming more popular, with a rugby union recognised by the Jordanian Olympic Committee, which oversees three national teams. Although cycling is not widespread in Jordan, the sport is developing rapidly as a lifestyle and new way of getting around, especially among the youth. In 2014, the NGO Make Life Skate Life completed the construction of the 7Hills Skatepark, the first skatepark in the country, located in downtown Amman. The Jordanian national basketball team participates in various international and Middle Eastern tournaments. Local basketball teams include: Al-Orthodoxi Club, Al-Riyadi, Zain, Al-Hussein and Al-Jazeera.
Cuisine in Jordan
As the eighth largest producer of olives in the world, olive oil is the most important cooking oil in Jordan. A common appetiser is hummus, a puree of chickpeas mixed with tahini, lemon and garlic. Ful medames is another well-known starter. It is a typical workers’ meal and has now also found its way onto the tables of the upper classes. A typical Jordanian meze often includes koubba maqliya, labaneh, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, olives and pickles. Meze is generally accompanied by the Levantine alcoholic drink arak, which is made from grapes and aniseed and resembles ouzo, rakı and pastis. Sometimes Jordanian wine and beer are also used. The same dishes served without alcoholic beverages can also be called “muqabbilat” (appetisers) in Arabic.
The most distinctive Jordanian dish is mansaf, the national dish of Jordan. The dish is a symbol of Jordanian hospitality and is influenced by Bedouin culture. Mansaf is eaten on various occasions such as funerals, weddings and religious holidays. It consists of a plate of rice with meat cooked in thick yoghurt and sprinkled with nuts and sometimes herbs. According to an old tradition, the dish is eaten with the hands, but this tradition is not always used. Simple fresh fruit is often served towards the end of a Jordanian meal, but there are also desserts such as baklava, hareeseh, knafeh, halva and qatayef, a dish made especially for Ramadan. In Jordanian cuisine, drinking coffee and tea flavoured with na’na or meramiyyeh is almost a ritual.