Day 4: Foundations, Finance, and Films
I was quite excited for Day 4 to begin as we were visiting one of the people I had originally requested to see. The rest of the day, however, was quite daunting as it was our first full day of briefings without much tourism.
We started the day at the Ministry of Environment, speaking to Khaled Irani, the Minister of Environment. He began by giving us an overview of the current state of Jordan’s environment and its challenges. The main challenge to Jordan’s environment are its water s supply, as we had heard from EDAMA the day before. In addition, Irani spoke about the problems with energy and waste management. The main solutions being looked at today were about a part of the national water strategy and relate to replenishing the continually sinking Dead Sea.
The ministry, which is quite new, has set some goals for themselves, including working towards less air pollution, which it has managed to partly accomplish with the lowering of carbon emissions.
Irani also spoke about the nature reserves, eco-tourism and conservation projects of the ministry as well as the work of the environmental police, which has been enforcing environmental issues and consciousness.
On a less regulatory way, the ministry has also promoted environmental consciousness through marketing strategies and by bringing nature to the Jordanians.
Our next step was a walking tour of the city, where we walked through old markets and shops. We saw spice shops and walked among grocers hollering out their prices and products. We even managed to incite competition between two adjacent juice shops, which were trying to invite our group as customers by shouting out various juice names in our direction.
After a dose of reality, we drove to the Jordan River Foundation’s Queen Rania Family Center, where we were shown how Queen Rania and those who work for the foundation have found a way to deal with some of Jordan’s not so pleasant realities.
At the center, we visited a puppet-making workshop, where Jordanian and Iraqi women were making puppets for their children, who were at school. The center promotes families and has exercise courses for women and girls, as well as theatre workshops where children are able to talk about themselves. The center is working towards lowering abuse cases as well as simply for helping families deal with any issues they might come up, through a phone service as well as workshops and preventative measures. The foundation itself also works on community empowerment projects, empowering citizens to lead a development process in their areas as well as creating more jobs.
Our next visit of the day was to the Jordan Investment Board , where Dr. Maen Nsour spoke to us about the region’s economic problems, as well as more specifically about Jordan. He spoke about Jordan’s necessity to concentrate on its human capitol, due to its lack of oil and other resources. In addition, he gave an overview of the region, saying that the Arab world needs to work on the creation of more jobs in order to prevent poverty from causing the region to become even more unstable. Nsour also mentioned the negative effects of the political instability of the region on the investment necessary for its future success.
The evening ended at The Royal Film Commission, where we were given a tour of the beautiful building and met some of the students and mentors who are working with the center on making and promoting Jordan a center of film production as well as a place where films can be made.
After the site visit, we continued onto dinner, which was hosted by Royal Film Commission at Wild Jordan, which is a restaurant within the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. The Society has been given the responsibility by the Jordanian Government to protect the country’s wildlife and natural habitat places. The food was delicious and we exhaustedly returned to our hotel to sleep and pack for our departure the next day to Mt. Nebo and Madaba.