art of resistance, Jordan, travel

Women take to the pitch as female footballers wow Jordan.

Author: Raed Omari/ Al Arabiya

It is a conservative Arab state, yet football is increasingly popular among women, who do not see a contradiction between the world’s most popular sport and Islamic values. In Jordan, female footballers love to be referred to as “Nashmiyyat,” or the “brave ones.” That is the official name of the national women’s team.

“If there has ever been an Islamic reason restricting women’s involvement in football, it’s no longer in place, with the international rule-making body FIFA lifting the ban on the use of hijab during football matches,” said Sama Zghayer, a professional footballer and former member of the national women’s team.

fe68c2a8-73df-4ce2-aebe-5137075dbcab_16x9_788x442© Al Arabiya/ Muath Freij

The level of women’s involvement in football has increased “immeasurably,” she told Al Arabiya News. “Here in Jordan, we have the under-15 and under-17 football teams, in addition to the first women’s team.”

Danielle Salton and Mary Harvey, former members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, visited the Jordanian capital last week. The U.S. ambassador to Jordan, Stuart E. Jones, told Al Arabiya News that the visit aimed to enhance women’s empowerment and involvement in sports.

Jones, who joined a workshop held by Salton and Harvey at Al-Hussein Youth City’s Polo Stadium, commended FIFA for lifting the ban on hijab: “Cultural differences have to always be respected and taken into consideration by all international governing bodies.”

The fact that Jordan is hosting the 2016 FIFA under-17 Women’s World Cup is evidence of the sport’s growing popularity among females, the American footballers told Al Arabiya News. “In schools, they have passion for the game,” Harvey said. “In Jordan, the game is massively popular, with female footballers becoming national icons.”

The former international players also visited the kingdom to increase participation in the Jordan Football Association’s Prince Ali Centers, which comprise a new nationwide network of football clubs for adolescent girls, according to a U.S. embassy statement.

In cooperation with the Prince Ali Centers, Salton and Harvey led one workshop with coaches, and three workshops with several of the 15 Prince Ali Centers. The program culminated in a mini-tournament for all the Prince Ali Centers on Friday at the Polo Fields in Amman, with 375 Jordanian girls taking part, according to the U.S. embassy.

Jordan, travel

The other side of Petra, Jordan.

I think there is no need to describe what Petra is, where it is, why it is special, etc.

It’s one of the top tourist destinations, and I think I’ve never met a person who doesn’t know about it.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it less impressive. When I was there, I was pretty much silent all day long. It was like the words were unworthy, unnecessary. I already mentioned in one post how I often associate music with places/buildings. For Petra I couldn’t get Cortez the killer out of my head.

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.

They carried them
To the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up
With their bare hands
What we still can’t do today.

Here are some of my photos. There’s no Treasury and Monastery on them. Not to say those two are not amazing, but Petra is amazing for many other things too. (I personally adore the color of the sand, the subtle sky, images of tiny people sitting/walking by those great rocks).


DSC08410Wadi Musa, on the way to Petra

DSC08421when this is one of the first sights… you know it’s going to be amazing.

DSC08433and soon.. the sunlight crawling and breaking out everywhere.

DSC08440men seem so tiny sitting by the rocks.

DSC08459and women too. rocks know no gender 🙂

DSC08443it’s a town. You usually see just photos of the Treasury or Monastery, but there’s a whole town waiting out there.

DSC08445and amazing gardens. with many stairs.

DSC08444and yeah – donkeys and horses. a lot of tourist use them, but I prefered to walk and just look at the animals (they’re lovely).

DSC08446endless redish rocks, and subtle blue sky.

DSC08462children playing. and small dogs. that’s always a nice sight.

DSC08451somewhere, among all those rocks and sand – a tree grows, green and healthy.

DSC08464I don’t know if it’s the light, or the sky, or just this idea that we’re just passing by and witnessing the (old) greatness.. but this is maybe the favorite moment I’ve captured.

DSC08480the sky again.

DSC08481And the sunset from Wadi Musa, on the way back. Petra in the distance.

art of resistance, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, travel, Tunisia

Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan… All dancing, all happy.

Pharrell’s Happy is a global hit, no news there.

But, you might not know how popular it is all over the Middle East. You might not know that with more than 17 “Happy” versions, Tunisia belongs to the countries with the largest contribution to the worldwide Happy phenomenon.

Pharrell himself tweeted the Tunisian video “Happy – We are from Tatooine”, a version of his smash hit in Star Wars-style.

Egypt will surprise you. Young and old people, dancing, clapping, laughing. And this is not just about the dancing, when we talk about the Middle East.  It’s about re-conquering and re-structuring public space, which is often limited to a repressive ruling elite and social restrictions.

CaptureHappy Lebanon 

It’s about insisting on happiness, no matter what. Let’s clap along and celebrate these moments!

To finish the post, here’s a small snip I made from Happy Jordan video. Enjoy and be happy!

cap4 cap6 Capture2 capture3


art of resistance, Jordan, travel

Middle East – The best of times, the worst of times.

Middle East is – a lot of beauty and happiness, and a lot of wars (inside and outside) and sadness, all in one. Of course, there are huge differences between the countries, but you can’t help but feel great joy and great heart breakes while traveling around there.

This is a photo I took in Petra, Jordan (Petra is out of this world place, really). It was such a beautiful moment.


At the same time, wondering around Jordan, I’ve met so many refugees, people from Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, with their stories told with broken voices, wearing their necklaces full of goodbyes pearls. It reminded me of Neruda’s Adioses –

It’s well known that he who returns never left,
so I traced and retraced my life,
changing clothes and planets,
growing used to the company,
to the great whirl of exile,
to the great solitude of bells tolling.

It’s a great shizoprenic atmosphere I witnessed there. Maybe Dickens can describe it better (good old Charles is perfect to put that in words):

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Jordan, travel

The subtle vibrance of Amman, Jordan.

Three months ago, I was lucky enough to spend some days in Amman. I explored all the small streets seeming to lead nowhere, and realised that there’s no street or road leading nowhere, something’s always waiting out there. Some of the surprises I encountered are on these photos – like the painting in the abandoned building. I found it while walking an alternative route to Amman’s Citadel (a great place, especially if you like history combined with great views).

Amman’s downtown smells like spices and fresh juices (I recommend Palestine juice, close to King Abdullah Mosque – father and a son run the small stand, very kind and welcoming, offering fresh fruit and great juices  for 1JD). The cars are beeping, somebody is randomly selling chickens or pigeons by the road, and man are carrying around falafels and hummus for breakfast (if you want to try the best one – go to Hashem, an iconic downtown restaurant, locals eat there, food is cheap and yummy).

For the rest – I’ll leave you with the photos.




















Jordan, travel

Wadi Rum, Jordan: The Valley of the Moon

Some months ago, I was a little explorer in Jordan.

I discovered many wonders on my way, and one of them is a place where stars come so close to the ground, it seems they are going to break on it. The moon is the king, high above, sunsets are mild and and spreading all over the endless meadows of sand.

People are kind and welcoming, their hands rough and faces patterned by the years of sun and sand.

Breathing is easier out there. There is something particularly powerful about the desert scenery, it extends your horizon endlessly, and cleans your soul like a strong wind, deprives it of everything that’s not important.

There was a lot of magnificent silence while I took these photos.

Enjoy and be sure to put Wadi Rum on the list of your travel wishes.

484788_10202458749008618_1434548075_ncamel ride from the Wadi Rum village to the beduin camp


our beduin guide at Lawrence’s house


just one of the amazing sights


the sand color is amazing – brown/redish


old inscriptions


one of many beautiful canyons


a tent where you can have tea, or “beduin whiskey” as they call it , and some traditional sweets

1422528_10202458774249249_2086583386_n (1)

sun going down, leaving the sky to the moon


little girl in Wadi Rum village


tour jeeps on their way (the area is huge, and if you want to see it all in couple of days you need to use these)


amazing nature – rocks, rocks, and more rocks, and then a tree, blossoming under the dry sun


take it all in, I say.


sand everywhere, so wear proper shoes. or just take them off!


The tree of life



our guide lost in translation


children love their camels, Wadi Rum village


and yeah – there are so many great (free) climbing spots.

P.S. unfortunately, I do not own a good camera, so the photos are not giving this beauty all the credit it deserves.