Souk Jara reopens after two-year hiatus

(Photos: Heba Elayyan/Jordan News)
On Friday, the long-awaited Souk Jara opened its doors once again, welcoming handicraft vendors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and excited customers to the iconic packed alleyway. اضافة اعلان

Souk Jara is considered an annual, traditional summer destination for many locals and tourists.

Established by the Jabal Amman Residents Association (JARA) and in cooperation with the Greater Amman Municipality in 2005, the Souk aims to bring the heritage back to Jabal Amman, one of the oldest areas of Amman, according to JARA Vice President Khader Qawas.

By supporting the vendors and giving them a space to present their products, Qawas stated that the Souk could improve the vendors’ financial status.

Souk Jara is a place that provides people opportunities to sell their products, regardless of nationality, Yara Hassouneh, a vendor, said. She added that Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian vendors are present; thus, “support is not limited to Jordanians, but anyone who wants to sell handmade products.”

The market offers both experienced and emerging creators a chance to showcase their merchandise, from handmade diaries, embroidery products, pottery, clothing, and jewelry to homemade food, jams, oils, and other foodstuffs.

“It is a lovely and cool place, and it represents Jordanian’s heritage crafts,” said Georgia Stone, a new customer of Souk Jara. “I got a lot of souvenirs to bring them with me back to the UK,” she added.

Before this year’s opening, the market was closed for two years due to the pandemic, which negatively impacted about 120 vendors working between 140 to 150 booths, which is why “this year the association decided to reopen it (Souk Jara) to restore pre-COVID life that people missed,” said Qawas.

Numerous vendors felt the effect of closures. For example, Jamellah Melhem, an embroideries vendor, told Jordan News: “Considering I don’t have a physical shop, COVID-19 affected me. I usually rely on bazaars to showcase my products and gain a reputation that can help me sell them outside (the bazaars).” But, “in these two years, we developed our products, and they became better and of higher quality,” she said.
‘Despite the difficulties of the past two years, ... people are excited to re-experience life as it was before COVID.’
Adeeb Salah, a seasoned Souk Jara vendor, said: “This is my 16 year selling my jewelry in Souk Jara. I have a shop, but I come to the market to present and market my products.” Salah also shared the experience of decreased sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, organizers remained optimistic for this year. “Despite the difficulties of the past two years, I expect that the situation will be better this year because people are excited to re-experience life as it was before COVID,” said one organizer.

Some vendors and visitors were less expectant as they experienced an opening day at the Souk, noting that it was not the same as in past years. However, they expect and hope for better days on the following weekends.

Maxim Abdilcareema, a first-time Souk Jara vendor, highlighted the hope, saying, “I think my participation in the market will rebuild my financial status that the pandemic has ruined.”

“The market helped me showcase my products, and I consider it a link between me and new customers every Friday,” said Aseel Jaradat, another vendor, agreeing. “Being here always reminds me of the old days, such as Al-Hamidiyah Souq in Syria,” she said,

In addition to vendor booths, the market also has musicians, artists, a photo booth, and home-cooked food for visitors to enjoy while strolling. Juices, snacks, and some food booths are also available.

Diana Sammour, a Souk Jara frequenter, said, “I visit Souk Jara every year, but this year, I came with my family to the opening day … because we missed it and its vibes.”

“Many products here (Souk Jara) are not easy to find in local markets and malls because mostly online vendors have a booth in the bazaar.”

She added that Souk Jara offers “everything you want” all in one place instead of going to different places.

According to the organizers, the market opens every summer (except during COVID-19 restrictions) on Fridays from 10am to 10pm, as visitors range from 8,000 to 12,000 every week.

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