I have an affinity for free spaces, places where for creatives can come together at this particular time in the world. A thing I like to explore around the world as we go. A place that isn’t bound by religion, politics or consumerism. A place, preferably with some reminders of the countries past, where people can collaborate, create goodness and release it back into the world. A place where we can discuss our differences and move forward in spite of them. For other Creative Community Spaces in this series, please link up here.
I was fortunate enough to discover the Duke’s Diwan on a food tour of the neighborhood during the 2017 Amman Design Week, shortly after I arrived here in Amman.This space has been many iterations of itself since it was built in 1944, I am told, including a post office, the Ministry of Finance and a twelve room hotel. In 2001, a local businessman rescued it from the city’s burgeoning development, by buying it and simply letting it be. The space is held as a faction for artists, and creatives and as an unchanging piece of history. When I visited the space, tea was served by the building’s caretaker. We’d brought in kanafeh from around the corner and while we ate, we sat in rectangles of light with a lone child who had popped in off the street, drawing little maps of our tour, while she colored alongside us. At some point, the caretaker pulled out a karaoke microphone and began to sing traditional songs. Those who knew them joined in, those who didn’t, clapped along to the beat. The warm breeze blew in the scents of all the thousand lives the building had lived before us. It was perhaps one of the most beautiful moments I have experienced here in Amman, one I wish I’d had more of, but that I’ll take just one of if that’s all that I’m allowed.
There was no design week last year, but if you’re planning a visit in the fall of 2019, it’s in the planning phases now. Don’t miss out on one of the many tours that were led by knowledgable residents of the city and well attended by current and returning residents who added so many wonderful stories and dimensions to the tour.