Crown Prince Hussein's wedding could give Jordan crucial tourism bump

Ceremony brought international fanfare to the kingdom

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Flowers lined Amman's normally bare streets a day after the royal wedding that brought global attention to Jordan.

Crown Prince Hussein, the son of King Abdullah, married Saudi citizen Rajwa Al Saif in a ceremony attended by royalty from Europe, Asia and Arab states.

The flowers were planted as part of the preparations for the wedding, which included deploying rubbish collectors on the route of the convoy in west Amman, a slightly more affluent area of the capital.

Jordanians celebrate the royal wedding

Jordanians celebrate the royal wedding

The marriage took place amid difficult economic conditions in Jordan, an aid-dependent country of 10 million with an economy that has been stagnant for more than a decade, with an average income per resident of $4,000.

Tourism, however, has been growing following the Covid pandemic and restrictions that followed.

Khader Salem, head of Travel Harmony agency in Amman, said coverage of the wedding, which showed manicured and colourful streets, could help bring in more tourists into the country.

“The pictures of the convoy and the palaces were so fancy,” says Mr Salem. “I expect a bump in reservations.”

He added that the earthquake in Turkey in February and continued upheaval in Syria and Lebanon have contributed to noticeably more visitors to Jordan since the beginning of the year and was hopeful of a boom in visitors, particularly from Europe, where several budget airlines operate more than 70 flights a week to the nation.

European arrivals rose to 304,000 in the first nine months of last year, from 142,000 in 2021, according to the central bank.

Taline, owner of a cosmetics shop in Beirut, said watching the wedding on TV changed her ambivalent impression of Jordan.

“Amman looked less bare than when I visited 20 years ago,” she said.

Asked if the wedding would make her think of going to Jordan again, she said: “Why not?”

Jordan contains some of the most important Roman ruins in the Middle East, such as the cities of Jerash and Gadara (modern day Umm Qais), which were part of the Decapolis, a league of ten Roman-controlled cities in the Levant.

Mass tourism, however, is concentrated on the Nabataean city of Petra and the desert valley of Wadi Rum, where parts of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in the 1960s. Government data shows that the number of foreign visitors to Petra quadrupled last year to 670,000, compared with 2021.

The authorities declared Thursday a holiday for wedding, but Abu Radi, a veteran mechanic opened his shop in the Mahata area in the centre of the capital.

“I got no business because the streets were closed,” he said, pointing out that the majority of his customers lived in the western part of the city.

Traffic on Friday was normal after the authorities reopened the streets

The wedding proceedings started on Thursday afternoon with an Islamic signing ceremony for the wedding in Zahran Palace in west Amman.

The palace is located near Rujm Al Malfouf watch tower, one of the unheralded archaeological sites in the capital, compared with the more known Roman theatre downtown and hill temple.

The stone tower edifice dates back to the Ammonite kingdom in the first millennium BC.

Updated: June 02, 2023, 1:08 PM