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Queen visits cultural, social impact projects in Salt

By JT - Feb 06,2017 - Last updated at Feb 06,2017

Her Majesty meets with the founders and beneficiaries of community empowerment initiatives in Salt, around 35km northwest of Amman, on Monday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — Her Majesty Queen Rania on Monday visited some of Salt’s heritage and tourism initiatives, dropping by Beit Aziz’s bed and breakfast, and the oldest Arabic sweet shop in the heart of the city, 35km northwest of Amman, to support the success of grassroots development projects.

The Queen started her visit at Beit Aziz, the first bed and breakfast in Balqa’s Salt, where she met with the founders of Hadab Initiative Mohamad Jenini, Lana Maani, and Laith Abu Al Samen, as well as a number of its female beneficiaries from Zarqa and Madaba, according to a statement from Her Majesty’s office.

The founders explained how the initiatives of Beit Aziz and Hadab have brought together tourism and community empowerment, creating livelihoods for dozens of local families, while introducing tourists to authentic Jordanian heritage and culture.

The Hadab initiative preserves the traditional hand-sewn art of “hadab” by hiring about 40 local women to weave elaborate white hems onto the Jordanian shmagh (traditional headdress), a process which takes several days to complete.

This old hemming tradition has been passed down through generations of women by their mothers, and Hadab aims to preserve this practice by extending its outreach using social media and attractive packaging to market the hemmed shmaghs as original gifts.

The Queen also joined a group of women at a training workshop teaching Hadab and participated in hemming a shmagh.

She also toured Beit Aziz lodging, which was built in the early 1900s and recently restored to become the first bed and breakfast in Salt, overlooking panoramic views and important mosques and churches in the old city.

Abul Samen, who manages Beit Aziz, explained that tourists are able to learn about Salt’s heritage while staying at the hotel by participating in Hadab and other workshops, and learning to make crafts and homemade delicacies from local women.

Queen Rania told the women she met and the founders of the initiatives that she takes pride in their efforts to preserve Jordanian culture while helping women contribute to this process by working from their homes. 

She added that initiatives like these reinforce the role of women in society and enable them to support their families.

Following the tour, Her Majesty stopped by Beit Aziz’s terrace, where the Al Balqa Orchestra and Choir were performing, while founder of local initiative “Ruaq Al Urdon for Arts and Culture” Bilal Hiyari briefed her on efforts to raise artistic and cultural awareness across Jordan, and renounce violence and extremism by creating a space for Jordanian artists to showcase their work.

Her Majesty then made her way to Mattal Al Jadaa, where she met with youth from Salt Film Centre participating in the Royal Film Commission’s “My City” competition by producing short documentaries about tourist attractions in Salt. 

She also dropped by Al Hanbali Arabic sweets shop, one of the oldest sweets shops in Salt, established in 1953.

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