Jordanians have high hopes, low expectations for 2011
With the turn of the calendar year, hope is in the air in Jordan, with people holding out for better fortunes personally, regionally and across the world.
Ibrahim Hiasat, 25, who has fallen on tough financial times and currently works at a nut roaster in Amman, said he hopes to earn enough money in 2011 to pursue a BA degree in tourism and take his first steps towards "seeing the world".
"I had the opportunity to travel for a scholarship in the US when I was 15, but I couldn't because of financial reasons. Since then, I have always wanted a career that involves a lot of travelling," Hiasat said.
Many said they held similar hopes for a new year with new destinations and opportunities.
Accountant Maysoun Ismael said she was eager to put 2010 in the rear view mirror in order to improve her own personal success by launching her own business.
"This year was no big deal. There was nothing to celebrate, except maybe the fact that it's over," she said.
Biaf Khietani, a pharmacist in her mid-20s who was laid off in 2010, said she hopes the new year brings her badly needed employment.
"All I want this year is a job," Khietani said.
Fortune and travel were also on the New Year's wish-list of Xenia Khoury, a Russian-born Jordanian pharmacology student.
"I hope I'll be able to leave the country this year, maybe study and work at the same time."
Moutaz, who works at a west Amman gym, said that he too hopes to leave the country to find work, and possibly save enough money to get married.
"It is time for a change of scenery. Anywhere but here," said the 26-year-old.
Some had more romantic adventures in mind for this year.
Jamal Ansar, a Jabal Amman coffee shop worker, said that this year he plans to return to his home village in Egypt to finally wed his childhood sweetheart.
"I have been waiting for this for two years," he said.
With the start of the new calendar year, some Jordanians are making wishes which they admitted, may be difficult to come true.
Zainab Qieshawi, a marketing student at Petra University, said she has a practical, if far-fetched hope for 2011.
"This might be a long shot, but I hope traffic in Jordan gets better in 2011, and I hope people think the best of themselves and others."
For more selfish reasons, investment banker Amjad Hussein said he wishes the new year brings with it wider profit margins.
"I hope we can finally declare the global financial crisis over and get back to making money," he said.
Meanwhile, homemaker Stella Gnnastase said she hopes for something money and fortune can't buy: health.
"This year wasn't good for my family. My mother had a stroke and my daughter was extremely nervous about her exams," the housewife said.
"Health is more important than money," she said.
Going into 2011, many people in the Kingdom said they took their hopes and aspirations to a regional level.
Assem Omair, a grocery store clerk, said that he hopes for security and safety abroad and financial stability at home.
"I hope the Palestinian people find peace and stability in 2011, and that economic difficulties in Jordan lessen," he said.
Nancy, a 32-year-old communications assistant who did not wish to use her full name, expressed concern about the potential for violence in her home country of Lebanon this year.
"I hope we don't slide into a war or violence like people have been saying. It's in all our interests to have peace," she said.
Yasmin Adnan, a flower shop worker, said she hopes for 365 days free of conflict for the region.
"This year I hope that we have no wars, no disasters, no terrorism, no corruption. It's a lot to ask for, but can't we have this just for one year?"
Back at home, many remained pessimistic in their new year forecasts. Raafat Saber, a sweets salesman in Amman, had a gloomy outlook for 2011.
"Each year in Jordan is worse than the one before it. There is nothing to hope for."
But in the eyes of the youth, hope still springs eternal, particularly for 12-year-old Ahmad Mohammed, who said 2011 will mark the start of his path to football superstardom.
"I am going to make sure this will be a year to remember."
By Taylor Luck and Rand Dalgamouni