AMMAN — Armed with a map and a yen to explore the art and creativity in their beloved city, some 35 young Ammanis embarked on a “Creative Trail” earlier this week to get a closer look at the capital’s cultural initiatives.

As part of the activities of “Creative Jordan”, which concluded on Saturday, entrepreneurs and artists opened their studios in Jabal Amman, Jabal Luweibdeh and Jabal Qalaa neighbourhoods for the general public to give them an idea about their activities.

“Events like this help break the barrier between fellow Ammanis,” said Omar Azzeh, who participated in the trail.

The 23-year-old added that some creative businesses in Amman work “within their own world”, arguing that not many of the capital’s residents know about them.

“By giving others the chance to see their world, this distance becomes less,” the electrical engineer told The Jordan Times, noting that participating in the trail showed him “the beautiful side of Amman”.

“Before coming here, I thought I knew Amman well, but I was surprised to find new places that I have never seen before,” Azzeh said.

Stops on the trail included Al Balad Theatre, Darat Al Funun, Dar Al Anda, Institut Français, Makan, the National Gallery of Fine Arts, Rainbow Theatre, JoBedu, Mlabbas and the Royal Film Commission (RFC).

Tawjihi student Yazan Orabi said the trek also showed him Amman’s history, stressing that the capital’s residents should know more about its heritage.

“I’ve been interested in filmmaking, but I have never been to the Royal Film Commission,” he said, adding that he was impressed by the RFC’s Film Library collection.

The trail was organised by the EU National Institute for Culture (EUNIC) Cluster Jordan in cooperation with Hamzet Wasel, a local community support organisation seeking to unite Amman residents from different backgrounds and neighbourhoods.

The EUNIC cluster in the Kingdom comprises the British Council, Institut Français, Goethe Institute and Instituto Cervantes. Società Dante Alighieri was also among the organisers of “Creative Jordan”.

For teacher Haya Odeh, stops on the trail showed her the creativity in Amman.

“I found out that there are some really creative people in Jordan,” she said.

“Creative Jordan”, which opened last Thursday, featured a “multi-faceted” programme of exhibitions, project presentations, film screenings, workshops and panel discussions at the Hangar in Ras Al Ain.

But the turnout was substantially low and some activities were cancelled due to the protests witnessed since last Tuesday over a government decision to lift fuel subsidies, according to Renata Papsch, EUNIC Creative Industries project coordinator.

“This is not what we expected at all… this is very disappointing for us,” Papsch told The Jordan Times.

“People would either go themselves to the demos or stay at home,” she said.

But Papsch stressed that there are plans to organise such an event regularly to support creative industries in Jordan which include advertising, architecture, crafts, cultural heritage, design, fashion, film, literature, publishing, music, performing arts and entertainment, television, radio and Internet broadcasting, and visual arts.

The EUNIC Creative Industries project in Jordan, which is part of an initiative that includes the Middle East and North Africa, also entails preparing a survey of the sector in the Kingdom.

“The aim is to show the economic value of the industry… and what should be improved to make this industry better,” Papsch said.

The study is expected to be completed by mid-2013.

“The study is not only addressed to governments, but also to the sector itself to show what is needed; for example results so far have shown a lack of collaboration,” Papsch added, noting that there was “a lot of potential” for creative industries in Jordan.

“There are some really good examples of creative industries… they can help the reputation of Jordan, they can help boost tourism. They can help in so many things, not just in job creation,” she noted.

“Creative Jordan” was funded by the EU and EUNIC Cluster Jordan.

Rand Dalgamouni