When a group of artists in Jordan approached Jabal Qalaa resident Firas Zawaneh to give them permission to paint a mural on the wall of his house, he agreed at once.
Zawaneh said he decided to allow these artists to implement their initiative in the hope that adding colour to his neighbourhood would attract more visitors.
“Most of the area’s visitors believe that Jabal Qalaa is all about the Amman Citadel, so they only pass by our neighbourhood on their way to the historical site and never stop to have a look at the old houses or interact with local inhabitants,” the 30-year-old told The Jordan Times.
Dubbed “Art for All”, the initiative was organised by Jordanian Zaid Derbi and Peter Claesson from Spain with the aim of promoting the locality and encouraging people to stop for awhile when they head to the Amman Citadel.
“I work at a tourism company, and I learned about similar projects from my partner in Spain. This concept has been implemented in several countries to attract people to visit areas that are unnoticed,” Derbi told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.
Around eight artists, two of whom are from Jordan, took part in the 10-day activity, which recently concluded.
Derbi noted that it took him six months to make all the preparations.
“The number of foreign artists was higher because there is a limited number of artists in Jordan that can do murals,” he added.
After completing all the murals around the old downtown neighbourhood, Derbi worked with the private and public sectors to create a map guiding visitors to the location of the murals.
“I hope that from now on, these murals will be a reason for more tourists to visit this neighbourhood in the future,” he said, noting that they were not only painted for the sake of art, but also to convey a message.
“We also wanted to illustrate the issue of scarce water in Jordan. We did not want to show any political issues, and we did not want to offend any individual or group.”
Suhaib Attar, one of the local artists who took part in the activity, said he focused more on the artistic side of the project.
“It was a good opportunity for me to learn more from experienced foreign artists,” the 22-year-old University of Jordan student told The Jordan Times over the phone.
He noted that this kind of art is not common in Jordan.
“These initiatives can promote this genre. A good number of Jordanians volunteered to help us on the project.”
Attar said Jordanians who are interested in learning this kind of art can look up online videos and articles about it. ___