App maps out Jordan’s street art

Student developer seeks to document culture ‘through eyes of locals’

Ali Baker
Ali Baker poses in front of a mural by artist Suhaib Attar, in Amman. (Photo: Handout from Ali Baker)
AMMAN — From simple phrases to elaborate murals, Jordan’s street art can now be easily found through an interactive map documenting the art pieces and their locations.اضافة اعلان

The website and online application,, is the brainchild of twenty-year-old Ali Baker. He hopes to bring together art and technology and advocate for coding and documenting cultural heritage among Jordan’s younger generation, he told Jordan News.

The web application provides a reliable resource to find the location of each artwork, the artist who created it, along with the context or stories behind murals and graffiti across the Kingdom, said Baker, a third-year computer science student at the University of Michigan in the US.

As an art fan, the project’s designer believes “street art is often overlooked” by locals. He decided that he wanted “to expose the [meaningful aesthetic sides] to Jordanians through showing off locals’ art.”

According to Baker, he hopes “to give recognition to the art community here in Jordan and among wider audience as well.”

Baker came up with the idea for the venture while on a three-week quarantine required during his last university summer vacation, when the country implemented strict regulations for arrivals entering Jordan, he said.

Contacting muralists and presenting “a mockup prototype” of his work, Baker successfully began to get Jordanian artists on board, get their consent, and start learning and building the website in record time.

Baker navigated around Amman to collect data himself and take photographs of locations and murals. He pointed out that his project aids in enhancing electronic maps of the kingdom through the eyes of its locals. He mentioned that Google Maps and Apple Maps do not always succeed in “correctly mapping out our country, lacking accuracy sometimes.”

Combining technology and art is the main goal of the student developer. “In Jordan, the educational system labels and classifies people into either the field of sciences or humanities — interest in both is not an option,” explained Baker. “When people consider a mix of both, great work can be accomplished.” 

Baker used an open-source methodology in his project. As he explained, this technology allows everyone to take part in the launched web application, where contributors can “modify the available code or add new features or data.”

He thinks that his participatory, open-source approach will boost technology development, programming, and coding in the country, as it “creates a community of active contributors to keep the project fresh with new, cooler ideas,” the student said.

In addition to advocating for open-source as a principle, Baker intends also to encourage other students in Jordan “to strive to do their own projects and technological [innovations].” 

Through the visual map application he programed, the student wished to stress the issue of documentation in Jordan. “If we do not document, we might lose crucial information about our country, history, and heritage, so preserving who we are is a must,” he said.

Living in a digital world, where “technology surrounds and is accessible to everyone, we have no excuse for not keeping records of our culture, development as a nation, and identity,” he added.

Thousands of users and artists have visited the application and website, while Baker says he got hundreds of likes on social media and sending “extremely positive and admirable massages expressing love for the project.” 

Baker additionally found that the project helped him to build friendships. “It was truly remarkable that in the year of coronavirus where no one could meet others, I’ve met and known more people than I probably did in my whole life!”

Besides being a valuable addition to his CV and portfolio as an undergraduate, Baker said that “getting closer to his homeland, meeting passionate people, and being confident in what he can achieve” were among the best things gained from his project.

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