AMMAN — Craftspeople in Ajloun are pinning their hopes on the progress of a rural tourist market project, eager for a fixed and reliable space to market and sell their products in the governorate.

Mayor of the Greater Ajloun Municipality Hamzeh Zghoul said that the project is 30 per cent complete, the Jordan News Agency, Petra reported on Saturday.

The market will be established on a 10-dunum piece of land allocated by the Ministry of Agriculture, according to Zghoul.

He noted that it will include 27 storerooms and seasonal spaces for rural products, in addition to a restaurant, a coffee shop and a panoramic viewpoint overlooking Ajloun Castle.

Anoud Al Zghoul makes and sells handmade shemaghs, or red-and-white checkered Jordanian headdresses.

Zghoul, who learned the craft from her mother-in-law, began her venture 16 years ago with only JD3 that she used to buy some thread and a needle.

Making her first shemagh, which she sold for JD30, took a whole month. Her capital currently stands at around JD3,000 and she can now make a shemagh in three days.

“I love my work, and I put in my heart and soul into every item I make,” the mother of five told The Jordan Times.

“This has allowed me to help my husband give our children a better life. My oldest son is an army man, and my daughter is studying pharmacy,” she added.

However, many challenges remain, especially when it comes to marketing, Zghoul noted.

“I don’t have a car and I have to travel very long distances to participate in bazaars, which are seasonal and mostly outside of Ajloun,” she said.

Zghoul added that establishing a fixed market in Ajloun that may become an attraction for both tourists and locals could save her many “costly” and “tiring” trips.

Samer Freihat, a woodworker in Ajloun, agreed that establishing a fixed market in Ajloun is a “great step”, so long as it prioritises supporting small local businesses.

“This craft has been my primary source of income for 20 years, but I don’t own a fixed space to sell my products because my profit margin is low and rent costs are too high,” he told The Jordan Times.

Farouq Al Syouf, also a woodworker from Ajloun, told The Jordan Times that he had to move to Amman to sell his products due to the scarcity of bazaars and exhibitions in Ajloun.

He expressed his hope that the market would help boost the businesses of local craftspeople, whose main challenge is finding reliable spaces to market their products.

Mayor Zghoul said that this project costs roughly one million dollars, which the Greater Ajloun Municipality won after competing with a number of municipalities through the Services and Social Resilience Project (MSSRP).

The MSSRP is managed by the Ministry of Local Administration and is funded by Canada, the Netherlands, the UK and the US Agency For International Development (USAID), under the supervision of the World Bank.

The mayor noted that the project will provide 27 permanent and 50 seasonal job opportunities for locals, which will help address the governorate’s high unemployment rate. The space is also expected to increase the municipality’s revenue, which will improve the quality of the services it provides for Ajloun’s citizens.


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