International Writers Magazine:
Amman is our
pride-of-place, it is a local city yet so cosmopolitan in character.
We need to make it greener in the next decade to streamline it with
the cities of the world which are increasingly becoming more environment-friendly.
Despite its urbanization and population growth that is set to increase
to six million inhabitants by 2025, environmentalists, city officials,
and representatives of the tourist industry should get together
and hammer out a plan that would make Amman a vibrant metropolis.
We owe it to our
inhabitants, daily commuters who come from all regions of the Kingdom,
and international guests frequently visiting the capital to get to other
tourist sites of which there are a great many in Jordan.
While the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) is presently amidst plans
to change the city through alternating the infrastructure of the downtown
area, and making it more pleasing, livable and exiting to the eye, one
should be aware the capital is developing far too quickly as a result
of natural growth and economic development.
The city's ancient sites like the Roman Amphitheatre, Citadel, Jabal
Luweibdeh, the old area of Jabal Amman and the different museums exuberating
a rich culture, tradition and diversity, radiate a strong aura intermingled
with, to use a trendy phrase, hip-hop development of high-towers, high
rise office blocks and urban sprawls.
These are the costs of modernity, urban living and indeed urban architecture.
In themselves, they produce the flash in our different neighbourhoods,
but unfortunately they are accompanied by traffic congestion, pollution,
smog and harmful emissions that would start effecting the environmental
terrain if they are not controlled.
Admittedly GAM is trying to put the environmental breaks on by creating
greener zones, and establishing public gardens and parksthere
are 128 of these as of 2006 scattered over Ammanin many spatial
areas, and in some cases over a number of hills, more ground work needs
to be done to make the Jordanian metropolis green with a ''green economy''
to safeguard future generations and allow people circumvent the "green
house" effect and the different gases that are slowly changing
global weather systems.
While the Jordanian Ministry of Energy is to be congratulated for converting
to unleaded petrol, away from harmful diesel which the government embarked
on since 2006, the measure itself needs to be accompanied by other on-the-ground
include instituting more effective green legislations and better
green zoning with tougher penalties for breaking the law, becoming
more transparent and guarding against wasta (favouritism) practices
that may be used to build on lands and roads which are not allowed
under normal circumstances.
going on at rapid rates in the light of the demographic changes in the
region characterized by the movement of Iraqis into Jordanup to
1 million unofficially, although government figures put the number at
The construction may eat away pockets of green, if we dont watch
out, although the present skyscrapers is also the result of more international
investments coming into Jordan which must be regarded good for the economy
but nevertheless, better planning is required.
With all this going on we must be more aware of the need to do all we
can to protect the environment through for instance banning the use
of plastic bags, moving towards the recycling of rubbish and institution
of wider re-cycling programs and consciously-adopting alternative sources
of energy, like solar, and energy saving lights in our streets, offices,
homes and public places.
All these help to create a better environment and safeguard our future.
Quite frequently many of these measures are awareness-related and involve
the public. Together with government action, it is up to the public,
ordinary people like you and me, to adopt more environmentally-friendly
life styles, change our habits and have a more positive approach to
These can be as simple as turning the light off when one leaves the
room, taking care not to over-hose our garden and car with unnecessary
water, not throw litter in the streets except in allocated places, recycled
bins and become more health-conscious in our eating habits by reverting
to more organic products and home-grown produce from the garden.
These apply not just to Amman, which is seen as a very clean city, but
all over the world, however, for the Jordanian capital, more green measures
have to be adopted to be established as a green city in line with other
In 2007, the capital of Iceland ( Reykjavik), Portland ( Oregon, USA)
Curitiba (Brazil), Malmo (Sweden) and Vancover(Canada), were chosen
as the first five among what qualified as the 15 greenest cities in
the world by a respected US eco-friendly Grist Magazine looking
for measures taken by officials in these cities that contribute to saving
the environment. Amman should be among them when the next vote take
As tour operators and those involved in the revamping of the tourist
industry in Jordan, a move towards green would vastly increase the input
of our sector some of whose hotels and restaurants are already adopting
nature-friendly practices like towel recycling and the installation
of energy-saving bulbs. But we can do much more, in fact switch to bio-diesel
in the hotel kitchens and restaurants with other eco-friendly techniques.
It is essential to accomplish that as the tourist sector is already
a rising star in Jordan, contributing over 13 percent of the kingdom's
Gross Domestic Product in 2007 and set to grow further by the influx
of international tourists forecasted for the kingdom in the coming years,
especially from Europe and America, guests who are themselves green,
environmentally-conscious and would much like to see a country like
Jordan paying greater attention to nature protection.
The writer is the General Manager of the Petra Travel and Tourism
Company, a local company in Amman that has been in the tourism business
since 1965 and specializes in providing different packages to Jordan.
He is the outgoing Chairman of the Jordan Inbound Tourism Association
of tour operators that bring international tourists to the Kingdom.
He frequently attends travel and tourism expos in the world and writes
frequently on tourism and the environment and can be reached at email:
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