Jordan's Jerash Festival challenges regional turmoil with art

Jordan's Jerash Festival challenges regional turmoil with art
An impressive lineup of local, Arab, and international acts are performing at Jordan's Jerash festival this year. The ancient Roman city will also host side exhibitions and a crafts bazaar.
2 min read
30 July, 2015
Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts, ancient Roman city of Jerash, 2015 [AFP/Getty Image]
Amid a backdrop of regional conflict and a slump in tourist activity in Jordan, the 30th edition of Jordan's Jerash Festival kicked off on July 23 with a remarkable opening ceremony attended by the prime minister and foreign diplomats.

Thousands of Jordanians and Arab tourists came to see the opening weekend events, and organisers say there has been a high demand for tickets including from Arab tourists.

The festival opened with Jordanian singer Omar Abdallat, who performed traditional Bedouin music in the South Theatre, and the Jordanian Musical Night, another traditional performance, in the North Theatre.

Among the notable performances were the Palestinian group Le Trio Joubran, Jazz Night with Jasser Haj Youssef, poetry night by the Hashemite Recital Group, and a Flamenco Performance from Spain.

This year's festival will see many popular Lebanese pop stars perform, including Nancy Ajram on Wednesday, Wael Kfouri on Thursday, and Maya Diab on Saturday.

In addition to performances from Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon, Mauritanian, Chinese, Turkish and Egyptian acts are set to perform. The festival will conclude with a performance by Jordanian singer Abdallah Al Rowaished at the South Theatre.
The event is the embodiment of the Jordanian government's cultural message to the world.
Executive director of Jerash Festival

In addition to music, dance, drama and poetry performances, there are arts exhibitions and a hand-made crafts and embroideries bazaar showcasing the work of local artisans. Many of the proceeds will go to local charities. The festival runs until Saturday August 1.

Jerash is an ancient Greco-Roman city 48 km north of Amman. Its Roman ruins, which date back to 63 BC, are an ideal venue for the country's flagship annual festival of arts, culture and entertainment, founded by Queen Noor al-Hussein in 1981. The festival was revived in 2011 after a four-year hiatus.

Muhammad Abu Summaqa, executive director of the Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts, told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service that the event is the embodiment of the Jordanian government's cultural message to the world.

Jerash Festival is part of the nationwide Jordan Festival, which will later see events held elsewhere in the kingdom, including in the capital Amman.

Recently, however, the director of the Fuheis Festival in Jordan criticised the Jordanian government for what he said was its preferential support for the Jerash Festival.