Monday, June 30, 2008

Who needs culture?

When Mullah Nader canceled the Jarash festival, it seemed to me like any other fundamentalist ruse to stifle culture and art, with an added bonus of saving money (even though we just created a new tax specifically to support culture a few months ago. I wonder what that was for). Of course, canceling a festival that has been going on for over 25 years and is well known across the Arab world is somewhat complex. The festival is a money loser, but is also gives people visiting Jordan something to do during the summer. Without the festival, Jordanian nightlife in the summer is more than a tad boring. Tourists don’t come to be bored.

So, the festival was canceled and replaced with the “Jordan Festival”. What followed was quite amazing. I wouldn’t call it a fiasco because it seemed well planned out.

First, word was let out that a French public relations firm called Publicis was organizing the event. It turns out that Publicis organized Israel’s 60th anniversary celebration. The Jordan tourism board has denied that Publices has anything to do with the organization, but not everybody is convinced. Nasim has a good account of what happened next. It looks like the whole thing will be a flop.

Now, this whole thing stinks because the government changed the Jarash festival formula for no obvious financial, artistic or organizational reason that anybody is convinced of. Then they gave it to a foreign company to put together (with the Jordan tourism board as a cover, even though they have no experience in such events). Then, after the stink came out, they stood by and let the whole thing implode. Some reports even suggest that they purposely sat by passively as the controversy raged.

So, as far as I can tell, we are looking at a purposeful sabotage of a successful Jordanian tradition committed by the professional unions and aided and abetted by our own wise government.

Nice job, guys. Maybe now you can sell Jarash.


At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you're saying that the government willfully sabotaged the Jerash festival and purposefully sat by and didn't do anything to ensure the success of the bigger Jordan festival? Why exactly do you think they did this?

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hi Hamzeh. They certainly are not acting like they care. I agree that it doesn't make sense, but nothing they have done about this from the begining makes any sense either. I really can't understand their motives; I'm just reading their deeds.

At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that anyone will disagree that our government will not be able to accomplish what you can call a success even with the most sincere of intentions regarding a certain project.

I say it's not because of unexplained malicious intentions, but because simply we don't have enough people who know how to get things done and to get them done the right way. Mind you this doesn't exclude people whose job is to only make decisions at the top most level, such as those who thought that canceling the Jerash festival in favor of holding a bigger "Jordan" festival was a good idea. I think these will be more open to criticism and more likely to change and correct if this criticism came in the form of pointing out mistakes and errors in judgment instead of talking about a native desire to sabotage things in the country.

Is there no longer any room in Jordan to at least assume good faith even though that doesn't prevent us from talking about any sort of mistake no matter how big it is?

At 5:36 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hamzeh: They took something successful and ruined it. It was either stupidity, incopmpetence or ill intent. Choose your pick.

At 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf, I'm curious as to whether you still stand by your opinions after the King's statements.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Ali Dahmash said...

Mullah Nader is such a funny Phrase, I like it! I wonder how many Mullahs we have in Jordan?

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Farah: I admire what the king said, and I don't see that any of my previous opinions are out of line with what he said. As for the Jarash festival mess up, he did the best he could with a bad situation.

Ali: Stay tuned :)

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: I wonder what you admired about what the king said, he just made it clear that he will sell Jordanian property without consulting the people...I see the king as any ruler in the middle east...he has no regard to the Jordanian people you think the Jordanian festival is something that important for a king to worry about...shouldn�t he be working on something more important like fighting corruption in Jordan that drained the economy and ended us in the bad situation we are in now, maybe he can�t do it because he is part of that corruption so I'm really surprised what did you like the king position

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khaled: Such a cynical approach! Instead of saying that the king stepped in to stop this Jordanian Festival PR insanity, you criticize his involvement! A successful festival would at least bring in some money into the country for the summer and his involvement was much needed.

The current situation of the Jordanian economy has come about mostly from external influences like oil shooting from $70 last year to $140, regional instability, and world prices. The overall Jordanian situation is much better than all our non-oil exporting neighbors. Which rule do you prefer to live under, the Syrian? Palestinian? or Iraqi? So please spare us the hypocrisy.
Yes, we do have corruption in Jordan, but the random accusations that you throw around about the king should be backed by more than what you think

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nadeem you didn’t have to attack me personally to make a point, any way I respect your right to your opinion and hope you do the same, my opinion is that the king should be involved in more important things than a festival, he is a head of state for god sakes not a stage manger, buy the way the money that this festival will bring will do nothing to the average Jordanians, my friend you build a country by building institutions and by creating a fair market and equal opportunity for all people, buy giving personal freedoms and building a middle class, this is what will improve the country and improve the economy not a festival!!!, by the way the king who is the absolute ruler of Jordan failed to do that, actually if you study the situation carefully in Jordan you will see that the king doesn’t believe in democracy if he did he wouldn’t order the Jordanian intelligence to forge the elections, he is part of the corruption because he is the one that hires and fires all the Jordanian governments that brought Jordan to the bad situation it’s in now, Nadeem with all respect you were short sited when you asked me if I prefer to live in Syria, Iraq or palatine, mater of facts I prefer to live in a place where we as people count and we as people don’t count in either Jordan or any of these countries ( do you think you count, if your not happy with this government can you vote them out of office Nadeem…you can’t, we deserve better than this and we deserve better than this king, I believe that I and my children should have the right to choose who runs our country….why not Nadeem

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Khaled and ask where on earth Nadeem and any one who is happy with King's remarks live?


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