Aiayu in Amman, Jordan
Aiayu
Aiayu

Aiayu in Amman, Jordan

Aiayu has collaborated with Anna and Ditte, two master students from Copenhagen University to research new materials and communities. The research led the two girls to Amman, Jordan where they have met a community of artisans and possible products to begin a relationship with.

Read more about their journey and findings. Also, enjoy their travel guide on must do’s in Greater Amman. Thank you Anna and Ditte for your knowledge and curiosity!

Tell us about yourself and the project

We are Anna and Ditte – two masters students studying Global Development from Copenhagen University. We are currently in Amman, Jordan conducting research for our masters’ thesis on how the private sector can play a role in creating sustainable development around the world in collaboration with Aiayu. We approached Aiayu because we were interested in their commitment to supporting indigenous materials, crafts, and communities in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

After discussing possibilities Aiayu gave us the opportunity to help them discover a new community of artisans and a possible product. As Global Development students, it is within our expertise to help evaluate which communities could most benefit from combining their craftsmanship with Aiayu’s investment and international platform.

 

What led you to Jordan?

From our previous work and study experiences, we have learned the great impact migration and displacement has on the world we see today. This interest led us to Jordan, which has a long history of hosting refugees from neighboring countries. Over time, this has led to an incredibly diverse culture and rich tradition of craftsmanship.

Since the recent influx of Syrian refugees, Jordan proportionally hosts one of the largest refugee populations worldwide. Given a lack of international support, this steep rise in population has put a strain on the Jordanian economy, infrastructure, and social services.

Job creation and economic investment are critical components to creating healthy communities for Jordan and its people. Because of this, we are here in Amman searching for products and people Aiayu could begin a relationship with.

Can you elaborate on the project and your findings?

We have decided to focus on refugees who are single mothers, as their economic opportunities are often more limited yet we have been struck by their impressive skill sets and entrepreneurial drive.

We have been interviewing these women to understand how they make a living and overcome the many obstacles they encounter. Being primary caregivers of their families many struggle with working full time, and face numerous constraints and uncertainty. We’ve seen them create natural olive-oil soaps, highly detailed embroidery, beautiful ceramics, and intricate handwoven wool rugs. We see many possibilities to combine these beautiful techniques and materials with Aiayu’s design to create products customers around the world will love.

Anna and Ditte’s travel tips and must do’s to Amman

Where to eat? 

  • You must eat Iraqi food. The flatbread is handmade and cooked to perfection in a stone oven – it is an absolute must and will become an obsession for the rest of your trip. We recommend checking out Fallujah in Gardens. The English translation of the menu is an experience in itself, but trust the waiter to help you out.
  • If you’re hungry and vegetarian (and are sick of hummus and falafel), Yemeni food is not something to miss. With a lot of Indian influences, the chai is delicious and the flatbread is equally amazing.
  • For an endless stream of falafel and hummus, check out Hashem, a well-known culinary institution in Amman’s vibrant downtown. Also, for cheap and high quality falafel wraps (referred to as sandwiches) on the go, Abu Jbara is a good option.
  • Dishes local won’t let you leave Jordan without trying; Maqloubeh – a meat and rice dish that, when served, is flipped dramatically upside down. Mansaf – a lamb dish cooked in a yogurt and ghee sauce. Knafeh – a sweet, crispy, cheese dessert (in what can best be described as a calorie bomb)

What to take home? 

  • Woven Rugs/Pillowcases/Blankets: We encountered two places that are still making these items the old way. In Amman, in downtown, there is Essa Ahmad Farrah gallery and bazaar. For a quieter shopping experience and lower prices, check out Wadee Maia’ah Carpets in the old center of Madaba, about 45 minutes outside of Amman.
  • Syrian Soap: You can purchase traditional Syrian style soap in downtown Amman in most of the tourist shops. However, be mindful of the quality by asking how much laurel oil is in the product – more is better generally! The real deal won’t have any added perfume or colorants
  • For other handmade products with a social impact, check out handcraft bazaars where local NGO’s with livelihood and vocational training programs will often sell their products.
  • In your hand luggage we recommend leaving space for good dates, date syrup, and real high-quality olive oil.

What to see? 

  • If you are craving some greenery, we recommend heading north towards the city of Ajloun. There is a forest preserve near there which is great for hiking and enjoying nature. We have also heard that this is where the best olive oil and soap producers in Jordan are.
  • If you’re in Amman and want a day trip, Madaba is a great place to have a quiet shopping trip and look at beautiful historical churches
  • In Amman, if you are wanting something a bit more familiar, check out the neighborhood of Jebal Al Weibdeh (just called Weibdeh usually) for cafes and restaurants with a more international feel.
  • A great activity in Amman is to check out the Citadel, big ancient ruins on a hill overlooking the city. Nearby the Citadel is the Roman Amphitheater, another ancient site, which is an impressive experience.