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May 19 2022 1:00 PM ˚
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‘I will be a guardian of every stone, every word in Jordan’ — Mamdouh Bisharat

Mamdouh Bisharat is an art collector, and antique preserver. (Photo: Heba Elayyan/Jordan News)
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Mamdouh Bisharat, also known as the Duke of Mukheibeh, art collector and more, was born in Amman in 1938; he spent most of his early life abroad and came back to Jordan, which he loves deeply, in 1961.اضافة اعلان

“Throughout my life, I will be a guardian of every stone, every word, and every soil in Jordan,” he said.

A stone at Mamdouh Bisharat’s home with his fathers name, Shibl Bisharat engraved.(Photo: Heba Elayyan/Jordan News)

“I have been a farmer for the last 60 years, but at the same time, in parallel with my agriculture activities, I have been interested in ecology, heritage, architecture, and in preserving old houses,” Bisharat said.

Diwan Al-Duke, which HRH Prince Hassan inaugurated in 2001, is one such preservation and transformation endeavor Bisharat undertook. It is housed in “the oldest building in the capital Amman”; it was built in 1921, when the Emirate of Transjordan was established, to be used as Amman’s first post office before being turned into Haifa Hotel, and, later on, rented by Bisharat.

Art and Antiques from Mamdouh Bisharats home.(Photo: Heba Elayyan/Jordan News)

“Throughout my life, I strove to preserve antiquities; I always used to buy pieces that were exported and register them in the Department of Antiquities.”

Besides the Diwan, Bisharat has many other achievements in the art field, including establishing the national art gallery with HRH Princess Wijdan Ali, a dress museum by the Roman Theater with Widad Kawar and Saadia Al-Tal, and restored present-time mosaics in the arcade down below the roman theater with Nuha Batshon and Widad Kawar.

“I also worked with the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative Association for three years. I supported and encouraged them to continue their paper and ceramics making,” he said, adding that “I also have a mosaic center on King Hussain Street, where we teach mosaic to people with disabilities.”

Art and Antiques from Mamdouh Bisharats home.(Photo: Heba Elayyan/Jordan News)

Together with artist and gallery owner Suha Shoman, Bisharat converted a house in Jabal Al Jofah, making it Bait Al Shaer (poetry house).

He not only restores and collects, but also helps as much as he can: “Wherever I have a chance to help anyone who has talent or ambition in the arts, world heritage, handicrafts, I always help, and that is how it has been going on for many years.”

Land is precious to Bisharat who “was also interested in buying agricultural lands because they are all blessed lands, and I did not believe in housing construction and malls that change the features of our city”.

Bisharat established a farm in the Jordan Valley to grow wheat and vegetables; in Umm al Kundum, he is preserving his grandparents’ house, which “is the oldest house in Jordan”.

Art and Antiques from Mamdouh Bisharats home.(Photo: Heba Elayyan/Jordan News)

Nuha Batshon, first news anchor on Jordan TV, from 1967 10 1977, said: “What made my friendship and brotherly tie with Bisharat is the fact that we have the same interests in art and agriculture; moreover, he is so humble and does not brag about his achievements.”

“I was so impressed by the way he was planting and harvesting, and encouraging those who had talent in local crafts, such as carpet, bamboo or palm tree basket making, which was introduced in our culture by him,” Batshon added.

Art and Antiques from Mamdouh Bisharats home.(Photo: Heba Elayyan/Jordan News)

Fond of preserving old houses Bisharat did not overlook his family house that “my father built in 1932 when Amman became the capital, and chose Jabal Al-Jofah, to be close to King Abdullah’s palace. I kept my father’s house as I have been living in it since then.”

Bisharat’s house, which overlooks the Roman theater, is a place full of Roman and Jordanian antiquities, paintings and sculptures, which summarize the history of Jordan. According to him “the most important piece of art in my house is the painting of Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid, who draw me when she was 88”. He said that “Prince Raad is one of my best friends and I am always proud that his mother is the one who drew me.”

Art and Antiques from Mamdouh Bisharats home.(Photo: Heba Elayyan/Jordan News)

Bisharat and his family had connections with the Royal family; when he was nine, he “sat on the lap of Prince Abdullah the founder”.

Why he came to be known as the Duke?

“King Hussein bestowed upon me the title when he visited my apartment in 1974 and saw how concerned I was with agriculture and compared it to medieval times. He was so kind to give me that title and I am very proud of it.”

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