Against the backdrop of the city’s Roman ruins, Jordan’s cultural festival is back for the first time in four years. The festival, which used to take place annually, was cancelled in 2008 after it failed to attract enough visitors.
The Jordanian government agreed to fund the event this year in a bid to boost tourism and attract people back to the region, which has been suffering from ongoing political turmoil. Jerash’s festival organizers said they hope to draw local audiences, as well as visitors from oil rich Gulf States and Arab Israelis.
“We are proud of this national, cultural achievement. Proud that Jordan brings joy to the Arab world in the light of an absence of joy across the entire Arab world. Jordan is a model of political, secure, economic and social stability. Jordan is home to all those seeking freedom and creativity and joy. Jordan is a mecca for tourists,” said Mohammad Abu Sumaka, director of the King Hussein Cultural Center, which manages the festival.
The line-up of acts includes a host of popular performers from the region, including singers Melhem Barakat and Najwa Karam, from Lebanon, George Wassouf, from Syria, Nabeel Shail, from Kuwait, and a number of local acts.
Dance and music bands from several countries are also set to perform, including Jordanian group, Al-Jeel Al-Jadeed Club for Circassian Folklore, the Galata Mevlevi Ensemble, from Turkey and the Alashekeen Band, from the Palestinian territories.
Jordan has been a site of regular protests over the past few months, with activists calling for political reform.
However, the kingdom has not experienced the intense political turmoil that has spread across much of the Arab world since January, leading to the overthrow of long-time regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as protesting and unrest in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.
The festival continues until August 8.
(Nadia Idriss Mayen, Executive Producer of Web TV at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: email@example.com)