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Jordan: Film Festivals, Citizenship Law and More

From a film festival in Dubai, a Jordanian film maker is making his debut at Sundance.

Amin Matalqa, shares his experience participating in the Dubai International Film Festival, and talks about his film Captain Abu-Ra'ed , which has been selected for the World Cinema Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

The festival was a lot of fun. I didn't get to see many films, but I got to meet a bunch of exciting people with a lot of enthusiasm. The organizers of the festival have really put an effort to make you feel welcome. First class treatment and a great place to motivate the future of Arabic cinema and cross-cultural diversity.

We premiered Captain Abu Raed at the festival, and the crowd was fantastic. We had a full house of 400 people, with a mixture of people who'd heard about the film and some who knew nothing about it. I was really pleased at the laughter and the tears that resulted in a beautiful finale and a long standing ovation. A very special moment and the first sign of success for our special little film.

And we picked up the Best Actor Award for our fantastic Nadim Sawalha (Abu Raed) at the end of the festival. I think this is just the beginning for things to come. The buzz around the festival was circulating about Abu Raed, and that makes me smile. Next stop… Sundance!!!

Read more about it here, and also view the trailer of Captain Abu Ra'ed from You Tube here.

Lina Ejeilat brings up, the story of a newly born baby, that was abandoned by both his parents, after he came to life at Al-Basheer hospital in Amman.

It’s becoming old news; another newborn was found in a pool of her blood, in the WC of Al Basheer Hospital. Apparently her mother came to the hospital seeking pain killers for cramps. Doctors suspected she was pregnant and she denied it, so they asked her to take a urine test. She went to the toilets, delivered the baby, cut the umbilical cord with some sharp device, left the baby there, and escaped.

The baby is recovering in hospital before being handed over to the Ministry of Social Development. The 24-year-old mother was found an hour after the baby was discovered, and she admitted that she was pregnant out of wedlock. The newspaper report says she is now being hospitalized for excessive blood loss, and will be later handed over to police for further investigation.

In another post, she talks about used book stores in the Netherlands, and she shares memories of trips she made to the Netherlands and Turkey.

In August of 2006, I was in Muenster/Germany, and we made a quick trip across the border into the Netherlands, stopping in one tiny village. We were told it’s known for being a “Book Village” (I can’t for the life of me remember its actual name). Everything about it was tiny, except perhaps the windmills, and the number of small family-owned used book stores. Most book stores were part of some house – practically the family library compiled over the years and opened to the public. The one I entered had a small wooden door that opened to the kitchen, where a dog stood barking and an old woman was baking. The great thing about the Dutch is that they, unlike the German and French, take pride in their fluency in other languages. I bought about eight English and French books for only 20 Euros.

A few months later I visited Istanbul – and although I was there for only two days, I fell head over heels in love with that magical city. It’s so hard to explain what’s so captivating about Istanbul. I promised to blog about it last year but never did. Yesterday, I had a very interesting conversation with someone who has been living there, and after discussing the great contradictions of the city, Turkish nationalism, cultural identity crisis, visual richness, the Bosphorous, and the mystical air of all the elements the city brings together, I found myself deeply longing for Istanbul.

Read more here and here.

Naseem Tarawneh ( Black-Iris), expresses his disagreement with the citizenship law in Jodan which deprives women married to foreign men from passing citizenships to their children and husbands.

There is an absurd law – the Citizenship law – in Jordan that women who marry foreigners cannot pass the Jordanian citizenship on to their children. Most reside in Jordan, these are Jordanian women, with, for all intents and purposes, Jordanian kids who were born on this soil and have probably lived here their entire lives. Yet, just like a foreigner, they need to renew their residency permits every year.

He also brings up a pressing issue for Jordan these days, and that's the rising fuel prices, and how this will affect the pocket of the Jordanian citizen.

The new economy-minded government is going to help us all out by telling us how much more we’ll be spending on filling our gas tanks every month. It’s part of a new initiative to let us all know how broke we’ll be in advance. Meanwhile, every time a new Minister of Energy comes on to the scene, we always seem to be filled with renewed promises of energy relief. Oil shale, wind, solar, nuclear. Jordan will be producing all of it in just a few more years. So, you know, hang in there.

More on that here and here.

Liana, an American living in Amman, talks about what she found Jordanians’ love for mobiles, and how the use of mobiles differs in Jordan from her own country.

Cell phones in Amman are often people's main source of communication for both business and personal matters. Business cards often just have a cell phone number, and it is not uncommon for people to have two or three mobiles. (This is not to separate parts of their lives, work and home, for example, but to save money.) “What company do you have?” someone will ask when getting your phone number. The choices are basically Zain, Umnia, or Orange. Based on your response, your friend will pull out a different phone, since it is much less expensive to call within in a company (from a Zain phone to a Zain phone, for example.)

In the States, not putting your phone on silent, even during an informal social gathering, will earn you a sneer and a major faux pas. Here it is a normal part of daily life, and many adults have Arabic pop songs or even religious chants as their ringtones – another element not relegated to the “youth” here in Jordan.

In another post she expresses her dissatisfaction with graduate classes she is taking at the University of Jordan.

This class, Theories of Conflict and War, has been essentially empty academically for me. We cursorily discussed how the major theories of International Relations (Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, and Critical Theories) view conflict. There was less material than I am used to seeing covered in one undergraduate class (maybe this is because we ended the three hour lectures two hours early on most days?) and there was one book that was suggested reading, which we never discussed.

More on that here and here.

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