Armagan: Gift of the traveler, from Amman to the world

(Photos: Safad Al Safadi/Jordan News)
A staircase in Amman bridges two worlds — the market-vendors and shop employees working busily in the downtown “Al-Balad” area, and the student and professional café-dwellers perched on Jabal Luweibdeh. اضافة اعلان

Along the Al-Kalha staircase, whose steps link the two diverse urban spaces, a new storefront might catch the notice of passersby as the climb or descend. Armagan, a small shop, offers a variety of heritage products: accessories, clothes, cards, bags, and souvenirs, among others.

Preserving identity
The concept for Armagan was the brainchild of two young men, Mokhled Weshah and Ahmed Hassnat, both 25 years old. They opened the space to provide artisans and creators with an “open, tolerant, and creative environment” in which to present and market their products, said Weshah, who explained that many people in Amman “have not been able to find a place to display and sell their creations”.

Ahmed Hassnat (left) and Mokhled Weshah at their new shop, Armagan.

This new, youth-focused store allows vendors to sell their goods “without the monopoly of big companies and major stores”, he said.

Weshah, an Amman resident, works in the field of youth and community work. With his professional background, he is especially excited to give creators the opportunity to showcase their Arab heritage and identity in a modern way.

“We see this project as an economic empowerment institution that provides tools and training materials for anyone who is trying to start up a small business,” the young entrepreneur said.

“We are here encouraging everyone to be productive and self-sufficient.”

Weshah also expressed a personal message for Jordan’s youth: “It is time to preserve what is left of our identity.”

Creating space
Hassanat, who works for an aircraft maintenance company in Jordan, explained that the name, Armagan, is deeply rooted in Levant history, with the word used in the Aleppo region of Syria to mean “the gift of the traveler”.

The name hints at the traditional character of the store, and its focus on Arab heritage. 

“We work in Armagan to help Jordanian and Palestinian youth to transform their dreams and businesses into commodities available in the Jordanian market,” said Hassanat.

The two young men are working to incubate a large number of youth projects from Jordan and Palestine at Armagan, to help emerging entrepreneurs. A customer, Bilal Hajir, believes that such shops “create a space for those who are not capable of opening up a business”.

“It contributes to preserving our Arab and Middle Eastern heritage,” he added.

Another customer, Mara Kessler, said: “It represents a modern mix of old with new, which is appealing to people.” Kessler also commented on the inviting atmosphere of the space, because it is very “open” for everyone, whether they are Jordanians or foreigners.

Armagan is indeed aptly named, with items from all over the Middle East, from Morocco to Levantine countries. A wide range of prices also make the shop appealing for customers with different budgets.

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