Written by Mathu Jennings (Kalamazoo College), Student Correspondent CET Jordan: Internship, Fall 2019
If you have not heard of Amman’s Rainbow Street in your preliminary study abroad research, then now is the time to figure out.
A steep walk from Wasat al-Balad, and there it is. The street is crowded at night with foreigners from different stretches of the planet, along with many Ammanis. Grab a brisk beer, splendid salad or one of Mlabbas’ new prints; Rainbow Street seems to be teeming with things to do, or buy at the very least, that you can not find in many parts of the city. After an intensive week of CET shoveling new words and bits of grammar into your cranium, go see what it is all about.
I have been to Rainbow Street many times to check out different restaurants and stores. I will not lie, things can get a bit pricey, but one or two visits will not make or break your budget, especially if you are conscious with your choices. I know that we are supposed to be learning about local culture and cuisine, but when you want a small taste of the US, or a stroll on rare pedestrian friendly sidewalks, this is the place to go. Here is a list of my favorite spots/stores in Amman’s little West:
This store has a funky twist of clothing from the basis to their very own designs. Meme culture is embedded in this store from everything hanging on their wall to their prints which include both western and Arab memes. Walking into the hipster store, you see many options that will catch your eye. But, if none satisfy, you can choose to make your own shirt, three-quarter sleeve or hoodie from their extensive library of over 100 graphics. Prices range from 19.99$ for a custom t-shirt and up.
2. Sekrab Restaurant & Pub RoofTop
Unlike many of the restaurants near Rainbow Street, you can not find that sweet spot of American and European cuisine giving you a fulfilling amount of food. Many pubs only sell horderves, but this place offers full salads and meals complete with sides. Sekrab also has a magnificent view of Gabal al-Qala’a, not to mention there is an old Volkswagen bus that you can eat in on top of the building. The front of it is covered in old pipes and parts giving it a rustic vibe with modern English music.
Contrary to Sekrab, this place offers local cuisine with plentiful alcohol options. You can order huge platters of Middle Eastern food in the form of tapas. The rooftop features another amazing view with cozy French style windows. The music creates a warm buzzing atmosphere sometimes featuring live Arabic Jazz music. It can be a bit expensive, but it is definitely worth going to at least one; you have to reserve your spot a few days ahead of time!
Shadeed literally means intense, strong or powerful, but the vibe is quite the opposite. This is a family restaurant so there is not any loud music, smoking or alcohol, just burgers among other food choices. The front of the restaurant displays a Wild-West graphic with a few cowboys on horses. I guess nothing shouts ‘Merica like that, or at least in the country’s given narrative. Anyway, the burgers are pretty big, tasty with the right amount of grease that will bring you back to your typical US burger joint.
5. Royal Film Commission Building
A royal initiative to increase intercultural dialogue between Jordan and the European Union was enacted in the early 2000s. That included the construction of the Royal Film Commission building which hosts the famous European Film Festival that you can find many diverse people that attend. Entrance to the event has historically been free and features films from Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, among other states, in their native languages (do not worry, there are usually English, Arabic subtitles). Also, many embassies throw parties after the films. This year’s festival ran from September 12-22, so right around when CET students arrive in Amman.