By Mike V. Derderian
The mild wind breezing through the city caused the new flags adorning the streets of Amman to flutter. With the sky, clouds and sun rays as a backdrop Amman’s new insignia (logo) has finally arrived. It was time to celebrate Amman’s centennial.
Seven hills of seven different colors interconnect within a square surrounded by white space. The upper half of the word Amman, which is white, appears as silhouette at the foot of the hills, whereas its lower half disappears into the white vastness of the fabric. A Shaddah, an Arabic stress punctuation mark, shaped like a bird, hangs over the Arabic “M” in Amman.
“To tell you the truth I can’t see it if it is not blowing against the wind!” a taxi driver,” said, before adding, “It looks rather interesting! I think I like it,” the Jordanian, who was looking at a press dossier with the new logo on its cover that I was given during a press conference, held on February 3, 2009, to celebrate Amman’s 100 years as a municipality.
In addition to being a new year 2009 had another meaning for Jordanians. It was time to blow out Amman’s 100 candles, to wish it a happy birthday.
An hour ago and before we met with the taxi driver over 100 Jordanian journalists were sitting at City Hall’s conference room awaiting the arrival of Mayor Omar Al-Maani. The conference room was packed. Khaled Bourgan, the Mayor’s Tourism and Investment Consultant, started the conference, with Amman’s new logo superimposed, on the wall behind him, through a projector.
“Amman is celebrating the establishment of its first municipal council back in 1909 through a string of events part of its centennial celebrations,” Bourgan announced to the attendants, “we tried as much as we can to hold the majority of the events in public spaces.”
A few minutes later, Maani arrived after attending a meeting with the Prime Minister. “GAM in the past was one of the most successful institutions in the Kingdom. The present policy and methods are aimed at involving its residents in its activities and development,” Maani, explained.
“It is true that the city started on seven hills and has evolved into a budding metropolis spread over 1700 kilometers. It is a mountainous and diverse city built on the religious and cultural coexistence that we incorporated in the present logo,” Ma’ani, answering the question of a journalist, who though the logo restricted Amman to its early beginnings, said, adding, “as you know change is a sign of the future. Many ask why change constants? We believe that the aspirations of the city in 25 years have changed, which necessitated the change in the logo.”
In answer to a question by The Star Al Ma’ani admitted that his outlook at Amman is not objective and is 100 percent biased. “I believe Amman is one of the most beautiful cities. Its uniqueness lies in its rolling hills and stairwells that we ascended on our way to our schools,” Ma’ani, who strives to unify Amman as a single and united city, “There is no East or West Amman…there is Amman and Ammanites.”
Ma’ani believes that the municipality has achieved many things on the cultural and social level. “Historically Amman is nine thousand years old. Its modern history is only a 100 years. Amman’s development as a city since the establishment of Jordan as an emirate was rapid and unlike other Middle Eastern cities it has evolved so much within the span of 100 years.”
Sidewalks, lack of water resources, public transportation, budgets, economy and overall challenges were the topics of the many questions asked. Few of the journalists present were concerned with the cultural, artistic and musical events that are to be held by the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), in celebration of Amman, as much they wanted to know where the city was heading in the future; according to an optimistic Ma’ani it is going many places.
“We knew a year ago of the centennial celebrations, which is why we started working on a musical called Petra was Told. We proposed it to GAM and they liked it,” Lina Attel, the manager of the National Center for Culture and Performing Arts (PAC) King Hussein Foundation, talking to The Star, said, “it will be performed on July.”
Ahmad Humeid, the manager of Syntax, the company that designed the logo and holds the responsibility of re-branding Amman, as a city, told The Star that they have been researching Amman for the past four years. “There is more to what happened than a logo design. It has to be consistent and implemented as a way of life and not just a media junket,” Humeid, who believes the new logo is more about Ammanites, said.
“I don’t think anyone relates to the old logo that was created back in 1983. They’ve incorporated elements inspired from an Ottoman bridge on the fringes of Amman. The new logo is about Amman now…the present,” Humeid explained.
Zeina Darwazeh, whose design that went through different stages of deliberation, re-drawing and later on public voting, said that being part of the new Amman logo was exciting. “Ahmad kept telling me that he wanted a timeless logo. It was a huge responsibility but I am proud that I was part of it. Compared to how it started the current logo has come a long way,” Darwazah, the 24-year old Jordanian, talking to The Star, acknowledged.
According to Humeid between 900-1000 people voted for the present logo from the four that were exhibited at Al Hussein Cultural Center. “Focus groups with officials, thorough historical research and literature readings in addition to public surveys were conducted part of the new branding process,” Humeid elaborated.
Citizens still haven’t noticed the Amman’s new insignia that is receiving mixed reviews. Some even think it is the flag of an event or a festival. “If you haven’t told me that it was the new logo I would have never guessed. I thought they had some new flags, a pedestrian, who did not know that Amman’s Logo as a city was changed, told The Star, “I don’t like. I like the old one more. I think it is because I grew up seeing it.
Source: "The Star", Amman, 09 February 2009