Traditional sharing in Jordan's modern capital

A forum launched in Amman to overcome the city's social divisions draws inspiration from the country's Bedouin past.

• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

A two-year-old initiative in Jordan is targeting entrenched social divisions. Ta3leeleh, pronounced taa-lee-la, is an open social forum for poetry and musical performances akin to the traditional Bedouin tribal gathering.

Once a month, eight “sharers” take to the stage in the courtyard of an artists’ collective in Amman. Each chooses what to present. It could be a song, poetry, artwork, or a speech. Audience members must refrain from asking questions or making comments, and each sharing session is filmed and uploaded to Ta3leeleh’s YouTube channel, whose 167 videos have received more than 135,000 views.

“Right now, the people in East Amman don’t really communicate with those in West Amman,” says Rawan Zeine, who founded Ta3leeleh after returning to Jordan from education in the United States and Britain. As protests have occurred regularly during the past seven months and political discontent persists on account of allegations of corruption, Ms. Zeine nevertheless says that speakers offer “no clear political alignment.” The initiative has spread beyond Amman, with gatherings regularly held in Ghor al Mazra, a poor farming region southwest of Amman.

Participants and organizers hope that the sharing sessions will foster a healthy civic life toward “a new type of unity among the Jordanian people,” says Zeine.

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