Jordan: Rumours, Gap Year Foreign Students, and Body of Lies

Ola Oliwat talks on 7iber about a film made by a new youth group in Jordan called Fekra. The 14-minute film talks about rumours that could be deadly weapons killing innocent people. In the post entitled: “Rumors Can Kill“, she writes:

“She was in the car with him when her brother caught her in the act.”

“I’m not assuming anything, but it’s obvious there’s something wrong about her.”

“She had it coming, if you ask me! I always sensed she was hiding something.”

Many times we hear things like this, from neighbors, friends, relatives or even when we overhear two perfect strangers chatting the time away while waiting for a bus. It is established we do hear this all the time, but the question is, how often do we question the source of that gossip, or wonder about its consequences.

The sad fact is, many of us tend to take this lightly. We use gossip as a pastime and think that it’s OK to mention a rumor or too as long as we make it clear that we’re not sure about it and that it’s just a rumor, forgetting the most important feature of rumors: they snowball. So, you hear something, think it could be an interesting material for conversation over a cup of coffee and, after all, what’s the worst that could happen?

The following movie, Dandana, tackles the issue of rumor and gossip in creating such situations and disturb the peace of families. It may start as small as a molehill and end up as huge as a mountain. You never know how it started or how it will end.

Dandana was done by Fekra, a group of Jordanian youth who don’t have much, but are trying to make the best of what they have to carry their ideas to the world. Dandana is the group’s first movie.

This short video, with subtitles in English, is very much worth watching:

This video is posted courtesy of Ikbis

Kinzi talks about foreign students taking a gap year and coming to Jordan whom she refers to as Gap Year Guys/Gals (GYGs). She writes:

Since Nas’ post on foreign language learners and my previous post on Stray American Girls In Amman (SAGA) I have discovered another angle on the curiously increasing number of young foreigners hanging out in our fair city – GYGs: Gap Year Guys/Gals.

The concept of a gap year, a year taken off either while in undergrad studies or after uni graduation, has long been a staple of the British and European ‘youth experience’. It seems now to have caught on in the US as well, and with the increase in the number of Middle Eastern Studies majors in the US, is channeling many young Americans to Amman. They come to learn, and most importantly, they come to serve. Not as in-depth as the Peace Corps, but more than a ‘Middle East Lite Cultural Experience’.

The of course, you get the Just Plain Weirdos. We had a tall, elegant-looking black woman come to church in hijab AND jilbab. Thats not a problem, except she introduced herself as a Christian, called herself “Il Ukht Yasmine”. Folks were their usual welcoming selves, even though it seemed a little strange. She came to Bible study and told a couple ladies off when they called her just ‘Yasmine’, that they weren’t respecting her properly. She would come over for a visit, stay all day, and announce she had no place to live and no money and God told her she would live with you! She did this several times before someone came to the church leaders to complain. When confronted, she said we were all a bunch of racists (even though it was an African family who called her on her game). Had I known the K-Town ladies then, I would’ve warned them! There is a division of American Citizen Services who make sure people like this get on a plane to go back to the US.

More from Kinzi here.

Natasha talks about the latest Ridley Scott film “Body of Lies” which revolves around Jordan and the Jordanian intelligence system, she writes:

As you might guess from the title, I was not a big fan of the film Body of Lies and I regret watching it on our fifth wedding anniversary, of all times! The reason I wanted to see it was because of its depiction of the Jordanian intelligence services as well as the fact that it takes place in Jordan.

What really annoyed me about the whole charade was the director's decision to film in Morocco and pretend it is Jordan. Who did Ridley Scott think he was fooling when he made the decision to film in Morocco and digitally insert the King Abdallah mosque in a number of shots in an attempt to make it look like Jordan? Did he expect Jordanians or people that visited the country not to notice? Or did he just not care? In addition to the fake scenery, all the extras in the movie looked North African rather than Jordanian. And in more than one instance I noticed Saudi car tags in the streets of “Jordan.”

More from Natasha, here.


  • Mohammed, thanks for the mention at Global Voices!! Just so you know, I’m female. :)

  • At least take comfort that the Middle East is not being depicted in the long list of typical stereotypes in this movie. Were there any actors/actresses who are well known in the Middle East other than the American ones? We have to find some replacements for Omar Shariff ;-)

  • God,I’m so sorry Kinzi, I’ll rectify the mistake now!

  • Mohammed, no problem, in this part of the world it is an honor, sa7?

  • Thanks for this, Mohammad! Jordan Days has been updated – sorry it was a few days longer than I thought – but I’m loving the crossover between 7iber and Global Voices, different blogs and this kind of independent media! Three cheers for your work here and thanks always for sharing. The film makes me doubly appreciative of my freedoms here, and reflective about my “double status” as a foreigner and a girl … and how the former identity often completely changes the latter into some weird third “in-between” category. and speaking of gender identity – Kinzi, that last comment made me laugh – thanks to you as well :p

  • Ola

    Mohammad, thanks for featuring Dandana and mentioning Fekra on your post. It’s encouraging to get more messages across, especially that we’re now working on the second movie

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