Posted Jul 9,2016
by Tamer AlMasri
Although Thaqafeh means culture in Arabic, There is a huge mismatch in expectations on what constitutes culture between generations. Street culture for instance was once frowned upon by many in Amman up until 2006 / 2007.
Ironically, this chasm in the definition of culture was most evident on “Al-Thaqafeh Street. “ A street envisioned by officials to become the hub for culture in Jordan’s capital Amman.
On Al-Thaqafeh Street a long paved public area with benches, fountains and stairways that doubled as bleachers was meant to be the gathering place for intellectuals be it poets or fine artists who embodied the traditional definition of culture. However, youth of all walks of life were attracted to the space instead.
Among the first were the graffiti artists who made canvases out of the walls that surrounded the glass enclosed art exhibition areas of the space. Skateboarders shredded the rails and the benches which made for a perfect street skating practice arena. Shortly after, aspiring hip hop singers started meeting up at Al-Thaqafeh Street to freestyle.
The authorities were not thrilled at all. Day after day they busted and kicked them out of the street. This obviously wasn't the intended culture for the street. But that didn't stop the creative youth from coming back and expressing themselves on culture street.
Dozens of kids joined their peers as the youth street culture grew. They’re culture got the audience. Whether the authorities liked it or not, the youth spoke. This is the culture they intend to build.
From Al-Thaqafeh Street’s grassroots beginning came the biggest names in Amman and the region’s contemporary culture: Mohammad Zakaria and Philadelphia Skateboards, Amer Al Taher and Al Mukhtar, Zukka and the Middle Beast Dance crew and many more with them went to the streets daily believing in their art and in the processes created a movement many followed.
In July 2017, Jobedu is honoring and commemorating their efforts and dedication to boundlessly express themselves creatively by showcasing the different faces of Thaqafa Street. Thank you to everyone who bled sweat to make our culture echo beyond the street.