Thursday, September 08, 2005

Car License Mania

Schiavoni ( started the thought process off in terms of a post, her post about the spotting of a Missouri plate in Amman got me thinking.

You see a lot of Iraqi cars in Amman, they are quite easily spotted, white numbers on a black background and all in Arabic. They are the complete opposite of the Saudi plates so easy to recognise in the Ammani traffic jams.

The variety and type of cars is immense, from 10 year old plus Mercedes and Daewoos and brand spanking new top of the range Mercedes and BMW's. The owners of the newer cars generally look well groomed and dripping in designer wear, I understand that there has been an influx of wealthy Iraqis into Jordan as the country is a relatively safe haven in a region of instability.

The thing I can't understand is that large parts of Iraq are in near anarchy with the rule of law being challenged by a variety of terrorist and criminal organisations, they seem to have a fully functioning new vehicle licensing department that registers all these new cars in good time.

I think not...

So who is registering these cars and whats stopping the country becoming a haven for stolen cars where you can simply disappear a car with minimal trouble?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mecca Mall

Mecca Mall is yet another amazing example of life in Amman, my wife is here and wanted to visit Mecca Mall to "have a look at the shops". As usual, she picks the worst time to visit, 8:30pm on a weekday night.

We approached from Mecca Street, a fatal mistake in its own right with traffic queuing back onto the main road. Every single (yes, every couple of hundred) parking spaces were full. The photo below gives a rough idea of the style of parking.

One of the bloggers on Jordan Planet ( noted that no word for selfish exists in the arabic language, this photo kind of sums that up, especially when 40+% of the cars are parked like this.

Anyway, another observation from the wonderous Mecca Mall is that no one buys anything!!!! Packed mall and less than 10% of people carrying bags with purchases - people go to walk, talk and drink coffee!

I heard a story from a friend here that the average life of a shop in Mecca Mall is 20 months, hardly surprising when 90% of the footfall invest in food and drink only.

Anyway, after several rounds of shouting f**king donkeys at the stupid driving and parking, we managed to get home in one piece.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Jordanian Mobile Phones

Its time again for my periodic rant on all things Jordanian, my pet subject today is all things mobile (phone that is), I'll start with the unique (in my opinion) culture of mobile phones in Amman.

Jordanians pride themselves on the latest, greatest, best mobile phones they can lay their hands on, what I want to know, is how the hell they can afford it, the phones are expensive by UK standards, even on contract deals, this must be a significant expense for most Jordanians? Even our office driver has a better mobile than me!

Also, why two mobile phones, a lot of people have two mobile phones usually obviously on display on the belt holsters. Is this a status system, do their phones feel lonely and need company, is it buy one get one free?

Most Jordanians are glued to the phones, while driving, smoking Sheesha, drinking coffee, while meeting with their friends, a truly obsessed nation.

As a statement of how popular mobiles are here, there are currently four providers, Mobile Com, Fast Link, X press and Umniah, all for a population of six million people!!! There are only (I think) eight providers in the UK with nearly 56 million people!!! I heard a rumour that a 3G network will also be starting up here in the near future, yet more choice for the Jordanian consumer.

End of rant.....glad I got that off my chest!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Back In Jordan

Arrived back in Jordan from the UK on Friday night. It was great to be back home for a week, one long week of meetings, socialising and drinking :) Nothing can quite beat Sunday afternoon drinking especially when the weather is nice. In one way, its nice to be back but it ain't home.

On the positive side, I'm now on Planet Jordan as a "Jordan Planet Friend" - kewl! Just means that I have to write some more insightful posts on life in Jordan........



Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Revised Jordanian Highway Code

I would propose a new Jordanian Highway code based on reality, my new rules are as follows:-

Indicator lights are an optional extra in a car - who needs them, everyone knows what you are going to do, don't they?

If in doubt, stick your hand out of the drivers side windows - a slight hand gesture expresses a multitude of complex maneuvers

Feel free to stop anywhere, it doesn't matter where you are as long as you put your "park anywhere" hazard indicators on

All mandatory signs are guidance only - you don't need to adhere to them if you don't want to

If your mobile phone rings while driving, you must answer it! Hands free kits are for wimps!

Sending SMS messages is acceptable while driving, the other drivers will notice your staring at the phone screen and make allowances accordingly.

If there is a large queue of traffic at the traffic lights, just short cut the queue by using the opposing lane and go to the front of the queue.

If you can save 30 seconds by chopping lanes in stationary traffic, do so.

Don't bother looking when merging in traffic, the other drivers will make high speed evasive maneuvers if they need to

If traffic wants to merge from side roads, don’t let them, even if it means blocking them in when you could have let them go.

If you want to move against opposing traffic, just nudge out, somebody will stop

Servicing your car is important but why bother with the proper service intervals or schedules for European cars, your local non specialized mechanic will do a great job.

Its myth that new cars need super or unleaded fuel, normal petrol is perfectly fine

Treat the road like a race track, weaving in and out of traffic at speed is acceptable if its saves time in your journey

When traffic lights switch to amber before green, beep your horn just in case the driver at the front of the queue has died.

Overloading your vehicle is fine, just remember that that extra down force traction on the tires means you can go even faster!

When driving on the motorway, if the car in front is obstructing your journey, either flash your lights several times or overtake on the narrow section between the car and crash barrier, there's always plenty of room.

Published clearances for braking distances are always over estimated, one metre is more than adequate

Double parking on streets is okay as long as the “park anywhere” lights are on and you’ll only be 30 minutes minimum

If you are a pedestrian, don’t bother looking for traffic before crossing, it always stops for you

Sidewalks are not for pedestrians, just walk in the middle of the road and don’t look around to see if traffic is coming.

Accessorising your car is essential, always spend as much as you can on meaningless English sticker slogans – they do make your car go faster!

If you own a BMW, you must obtain a “M” motor sport badge to signify your desire to better your mode of transportation

Remember, you are god’s gift to driving.

Friday, July 01, 2005

War of the Worlds

Okay, I've just got back from watching War of the Worlds at the (on first impressions) rather nice Century cinema complex at the Zara Centre. Special effects great, acting great, plot line ok, finish - weak. But the reason for my rant is about 50 minutes into the film, two men arrive and sit down, now, will somebody please tell what is the point of that? You've missed nearly half the film, whats the point of going? Is this a Jordanian/Arabic thing or am I missing the point?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Independent Local Radio - Now in Jordan

Chris Evans ( a famous UK ex celebrity and DJ) once commented that human cloning is possible and the evidence is the plethora of local radio stations in the UK. Independent local radio has virtually the same format where ever you go, even down to the promotions, feature spots, news format, station logos etc etc, its not independent and vaguely local.

Now imagine my amazement when listening to Play 106 FM, its the same features and format as I was listening to nearly 8 years ago when I was studying at University!!!!! The thing I want to know is did they market it as a unique solution for the Amman marketplace......