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TRAVEL > Old Amman street abuzz after facelift

AMMAN - Agence France-Presse

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Jordanian youths play their guitars at Rainbow Street, where renovation work was completed two years ago by city planners keen on bolstering tourism. AFP photo

Jordanian youths play their guitars at Rainbow Street, where renovation work was completed two years ago by city planners keen on bolstering tourism. AFP photo

Rainbow Street in Amman’s heart is abuzz again after posh 1920s-era homes were turned into restaurants, galleries and libraries, drawing hipsters, bohemians, intellectuals and hordes of tourists.
 
After decades of oblivion, the street in the historic area of Jabal Amman has undergone a facelift, rejuvenating the once sleepy neighborhood.
 
Tucked away along a kilometer-long cobblestone street flanked by the former homes of Jordan’s old aristocratic families, Rainbow Street is now one of Amman’s trendiest nightspots.
 
It sits atop one of Amman’s seven hills and boasts majestic views from the shisha bars and cafes of terraced houses overlooking the Old City below and the ancient Citadel on Jabal al-Qala’a across.
 
Renovation work was completed two years ago by city planners keen on bolstering tourism and Rainbow Street has since found its way into tourist guide books and travel websites.
 
With more and more new eateries and art galleries opening up, it has attracted the likes of Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who once treated themselves and their children to ice cream from a local shop.
 
Even King Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania once took time off to dine at the trendy Sufra restaurant, which boasts “home-made” Jordanian cuisine served in traditional pottery ware.

Attractive for tourists
“Rainbow Street has become an attractive destination, particularly for tourists, thanks mainly to its historic buildings,” said Haitham Goussous, whose family owns and runs Sufra among other restaurants.

Casually dressed youths mingle alongside more conservative couples and young veiled women to explore the dozens of shops, shisha bars and the weekly arts and crafts market.
 
“We hold concerts, art exhibitions and play silent black-and-white movies and offer Internet services,” said Mustafa Abdel Fattah, the manager of Cafe des Artistes, which, decades ago, used to be a music shop.

Named after an old cinema theater, Rainbow Street was the pet project of the Greater Amman Municipality which spent $7 million to inject new life there.

May/18/2012

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