Thoughts on Amman

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Thoughts on Amman

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Amman the capital of Jordan is a modern progressive Arab city. It is a city of contrasts. There is an older part of the city on the east side where the Palestinian refugee camp sits like a crowded ant hill. The west side of the city is where the money lives. Modern restaurants and shops. Gleaming car showrooms offer the latest European and Japanese imports.

On a tour of the city our bus drove by the American Embassy. We were told to take no pictures and that if we did the embassy would know because of the sensitive surveillance technology built into the structure. The embassy building is a large squat building occupying a large plot of land. The Marine guards have mounted machine guns on vehicles and stand looking at every vehicle that passes. America has a large presence in this part of the world, but its interests have to be vigilantly protected from those who wish her harm. I could not help thinking the high security surrounding the embassy represents America's embattled position in some parts of today's world.

The late King Hussein is still much loved here in the Hashemite kingdom. His picture is seen in many public areas. Hussein was an enlightened Middle Eastern monarch who lived to serve his people. Over a long reign he improved the lot of the average Jordanian many fold. Our bus driver talks affectionately of the King Hussein with tears in his eyes. Hussein's son King Abdullah may still be finding his own role as he tries to fill the shoes of a legend. You see many pictures of both father and son together.  You wonder how much the son needs the memory of the father to establish his rule.

Amman has doubled its population in the past ten years and continues to sprawl in all directions. If it doubles again in the same time it will be over four million inhabitants. The same is happening in other Arab countries. Israel, on th other hand, is not seeing growth but is on the edge of population decline. At that rate they will see themselves out manned by the Arab world within twenty five years. These power shifts could lead to dramatic changes, with Israel finding it difficult to maintain a hold in the region.

The dateline on an article in this morning's Jordan Times was from "Occupied Jerusalem". It is all a matter of perspective.

We leave Amman today bound for Egypt. Blogging to continue from there.