A tip by her sister encouraging her to visit Amman triggered in curiosity in Palestinian Ashgan Borjas about the nearby capital.
Before visiting Jordan, she was not aware of the local art scene hosted in the city. “Once I discovered the number of graffiti, [work] around Amman, it became a major reason for my trips, as I like this kind of painting a lot,” she told The Jordan Times.
Graffiti has become a “new product” officials can rely on to promote tourism and transform the Kingdom into a chosen destination for tourists all over the world.
Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, managing director of Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), said Jordan has been growing as an art destination. “We added a new product to the country's attractions which is art. We want to promote all kind of art experiences including graffiti for tourists and artists alike,” he told The Jordan Times.
JTB has recently announced the launch of “Art Destination Jordan”, a website offering a glimpse into the modern and traditional art scene in the Kingdom, in partnership with Universes in Universe-Worlds of Art.
Art Destination Jordan is "a unique web product and a sustainable resource for cultural tourism combining contemporary and modern arts and architecture with historical treasures, traditions and cultural heritage of the country", a JTB statement recently e-mailed to The Jordan Times said.
For Shatha Al Majali, a Jordanian graffiti artist, graffiti can be a magnet to attract people to new places and discover their hidden beauty.
“Graffiti art creates a different environment and gives a spirit to the place hosting it. The art of graffiti is very important as it reflects what’s happening in the street. Graffiti can change an ordinary wall to a special place with an identity and possibly a message that can give you inspiration, hope or even love,” she said.
In October 2016, Leena Haddad and Dina Toukan teamed up to create an Instagram account dubbed “Amman Street Art”, where they promote local graffiti paintings and artists, without realising they were also being part of the cultural tourism promotional process.
“We were approached by a Palestinian girl who said she likes to come to Jabal Luweibdeh because of the colours all over the walls,” Toukan told The Jordan Times, while Haddad stressed that the beauty of street art encourages people to head to new locations as they stop by the painting to take photos of it.
“This is the purpose of the page, to create a link between the painting and its artist and the general public,” she added, noting "I believe these paintings existing in the old part of Amman play a role in linking old with modernity."
“When you go to Jabal Amman you can see paintings on the door of an old grocery story, which perfectly illustrates the modernity living side by side with old venues,” Toukan said, adding, “when going to a gallery, you might pay less attention to paintings, while when you see such huge paintings on a wall, it will attract you to the area and make you visit it many times just to enjoy watching this masterpiece.”
Jovana Kvrzic, a tourist from Serbia, said graffiti did help her discover new areas in Amman and meet new people as she was exploring the city's new landmarks.
“Graffitis have their own story to tell. They are very important especially if they are made by local artists. Sometimes, I just go to some places because I heard they have cool street art,” she told The Jordan Times.
Palestinian Borjas echoed the idea, saying, “I support graffiti art because it beautifies the city and can help boost tourism by motivating people to learn more about their heritage. This is especially true if these works of art highlight the area’s peace, love and human values.”
Al Majali noted that officials can invest in the art of graffiti through supported programmes that highlight and promote specific places. This can improve the environment not only for tourists but also for local residents, she stressed.
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