The quiet kingdom's hidden pulse: Jordan’s vibrant street arts scene!

Published March 29th, 2016 - 06:37 GMT

Are you plugged in to a new cultural revolution, where underground Arab artists are keeping it street?

The sleepy kingdom of Jordan is rich in ancient heritage, spectacular eco-tourism, and swimmable seas with Biblical roots. But let's change the channel to contemporary arts, and check out an under-reported grassroots movement that's raising the profile of Amman's simmering streetscene.

Find out more about Studio 8 - a creative hub for art, dance and musical innovation is working to change the perception of beatbox as well as dance and art with special events, workshops and classes. Special thought for the talented photographer Sami Haven, may he RIP.  

 
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Art and dance collective Studio 8

Palestinians Abdul Hadi and Anas Nahleh founded Studio 8, a vibrant art collective which provides classes (hip-hop, break and even African dance!) in Jordan's capital city. These two talented, breakdancing brothers are at the heart of Amman's ‘support independent arts movement’. (Sami Haven)

Breakdancer Anas Nahleh

Breakdancer Anas Nahleh has fought tirelessly to keep Studio 8’s doors open. Following two evictions by skeptical landlords, he led a successful fundraising campaign to save the studio. Its doors reopened in March 2016 where Anas personally instructs breakdance classes to the new Bboy generation of Jordan. (Courtesy photo)

Breakdancer Abdul Hadi Nahleh

Breakdancer Abdul Hadi Nahleh moved to Norway to study performing arts, after a successful local breakdance career, but his heart remains in Studio 8. “My dream was to see Studio 8 be the heart for young artists”, he said. His vision materialized, as Studio 8 is now a key hub for community engagement for marginalized youth. (Sami Haven)

Graffiti artist Yara Hindawi

Graffitist, illustrator, and street artist Yara Hindawi currently works and lives between Amman and Dubai. "I like to paint the visual likeness of the ghosts that haunt me, in what I feel is their most natural habitats. They're a little sad because perhaps, I'm a little sad," she said. Spot her art all over Amman. (Amer Sweidan)

Breakdancer Somar Jafari

Bboy Somar Jafari, an established and well known Jordanian breakdancer, said, “Dancing is my life and I could not live a day without it. I want to gain respect as a dancer but I want to be known for who I am, not just Somar the breakdancer.” Somar Jafari started dancing in 2008 and now he teaches the new generation of dancers. (Nika Kramer)

Hip Hop Dance Competition Battlefront

Hip hop dance competition Battlefront was founded by Bboy Somar Jafari in 2014. Initially, the competition was exclusively for breakdancers, but now it caters to all hip hop dance styles such as popping, break, crunk, etc. Somar wants to promote the expansion of the dance scene in Amman and Jordan. (Rami Ilcappo)

Beatboxer Abood Aladham

Beatboxer Abood Aladham taught himself beatbox in 2010. Four years later he founded “The King of the Beat”, the first beatbox battle competition in Jordan. He is currently working with Studio 8 to challenge Jordanian society’s perceptions of beatbox and have it recognized as an art form. (Lindsey Leger)

Beatbox Battle The King of the Beat

The King of the Beat was founded by Abood Aladham and brought together dozens of young, aspiring beatboxers. It is an annual competition which selects Jordan’s beat talent. This year, Abood is fundraising to invite internationally acclaimed beatboxers to raise the profile of the competition. (Ren Shallman)

Graffiti artist Laila Ajjawi

Laila Ajjawi was born into a Palestinian refugee camp near Irbid. “Graffiti is a creation of an image, and an image is worth a thousand words” she says, as she uses her art to positively impact her community. “Creating a public work involves responsibility, as it belongs to the wider community.” (Courtesy photo)

Graffiti artist Laila Ajjawi

“Whenever I create graffiti, I do my best to create a graffiti that belongs to the local community, represent their identity and speak to them more closely, tell them the idea and force them to stop by the art and consider its concept and how it is relevant to society.” (Courtesy photo)

Beatboxer Sara Alsheikhly

Only 13, Sara Alsheikhly is already a talented beatboxer. After starting to teach herself beatbox in 2013, Sara eventually met beatboxer Abood Aladham who invited her to participate in the King of the Beat. Sara says she wishes there were more female beatboxers in Jordan & teaches her friends in school to try promote the art. (Afeef Qawasmi)

Popper Yaser Qader

Yaser Qader is an Iraqi refugee who began dancing in 2008 when he moved to Jordan. “When I first started dancing it was just for fun but now it has become my life. I saw dance as a refuge and a healing process, it helped me to connect with more people around the world. In the end, all of us dancers we speak the same language”. (Courtesy photo)

Parkour runner Burhan Kuca Oğlan

Born to a Syrian family in Amman, Burhan Kuca Oğlan is the parkour pioneer of Jordan. The street sport which sees “freerunners” move fluidly and quickly through urban areas, is new to the Hashemite Kingdom. Self-taught, Oglan began coaching aspiring freerunners in Amman, bringing together a new parkour community. (Joel Eggimann)

Parkour and Freerun community Black Iris

Self-taught, Oglan began coaching aspiring freerunners in Amman, bringing together a new parkour community. He teaches moves and techniques, such as the “Human Flag” and the “Corkscrew 360”. (Odai Zeitawi)

Parkour runner Burhan Kuca Oğlan

Burhan’s skills and talent had him reach the World Parkour Final eliminations round held in Athens, Greece in 2013. He was unable to attend as a result of his Syrian nationality. Burhan says however that he has no regrets and continues to work to promote parkour and freerunning in the region. (Odai Zeitawi)

Art and dance collective Studio 8
Breakdancer Anas Nahleh
Breakdancer Abdul Hadi Nahleh
Graffiti artist Yara Hindawi
Breakdancer Somar Jafari
Hip Hop Dance Competition Battlefront
Beatboxer Abood Aladham
Beatbox Battle The King of the Beat
Graffiti artist Laila Ajjawi
Graffiti artist Laila Ajjawi
Beatboxer Sara Alsheikhly
Popper Yaser Qader
Parkour runner Burhan Kuca Oğlan
Parkour and Freerun community Black Iris
Parkour runner Burhan Kuca Oğlan
Art and dance collective Studio 8
Palestinians Abdul Hadi and Anas Nahleh founded Studio 8, a vibrant art collective which provides classes (hip-hop, break and even African dance!) in Jordan's capital city. These two talented, breakdancing brothers are at the heart of Amman's ‘support independent arts movement’. (Sami Haven)
Breakdancer Anas Nahleh
Breakdancer Anas Nahleh has fought tirelessly to keep Studio 8’s doors open. Following two evictions by skeptical landlords, he led a successful fundraising campaign to save the studio. Its doors reopened in March 2016 where Anas personally instructs breakdance classes to the new Bboy generation of Jordan. (Courtesy photo)
Breakdancer Abdul Hadi Nahleh
Breakdancer Abdul Hadi Nahleh moved to Norway to study performing arts, after a successful local breakdance career, but his heart remains in Studio 8. “My dream was to see Studio 8 be the heart for young artists”, he said. His vision materialized, as Studio 8 is now a key hub for community engagement for marginalized youth. (Sami Haven)
Graffiti artist Yara Hindawi
Graffitist, illustrator, and street artist Yara Hindawi currently works and lives between Amman and Dubai. "I like to paint the visual likeness of the ghosts that haunt me, in what I feel is their most natural habitats. They're a little sad because perhaps, I'm a little sad," she said. Spot her art all over Amman. (Amer Sweidan)
Breakdancer Somar Jafari
Bboy Somar Jafari, an established and well known Jordanian breakdancer, said, “Dancing is my life and I could not live a day without it. I want to gain respect as a dancer but I want to be known for who I am, not just Somar the breakdancer.” Somar Jafari started dancing in 2008 and now he teaches the new generation of dancers. (Nika Kramer)
Hip Hop Dance Competition Battlefront
Hip hop dance competition Battlefront was founded by Bboy Somar Jafari in 2014. Initially, the competition was exclusively for breakdancers, but now it caters to all hip hop dance styles such as popping, break, crunk, etc. Somar wants to promote the expansion of the dance scene in Amman and Jordan. (Rami Ilcappo)
Beatboxer Abood Aladham
Beatboxer Abood Aladham taught himself beatbox in 2010. Four years later he founded “The King of the Beat”, the first beatbox battle competition in Jordan. He is currently working with Studio 8 to challenge Jordanian society’s perceptions of beatbox and have it recognized as an art form. (Lindsey Leger)
Beatbox Battle The King of the Beat
The King of the Beat was founded by Abood Aladham and brought together dozens of young, aspiring beatboxers. It is an annual competition which selects Jordan’s beat talent. This year, Abood is fundraising to invite internationally acclaimed beatboxers to raise the profile of the competition. (Ren Shallman)
Graffiti artist Laila Ajjawi
Laila Ajjawi was born into a Palestinian refugee camp near Irbid. “Graffiti is a creation of an image, and an image is worth a thousand words” she says, as she uses her art to positively impact her community. “Creating a public work involves responsibility, as it belongs to the wider community.” (Courtesy photo)
Graffiti artist Laila Ajjawi
“Whenever I create graffiti, I do my best to create a graffiti that belongs to the local community, represent their identity and speak to them more closely, tell them the idea and force them to stop by the art and consider its concept and how it is relevant to society.” (Courtesy photo)
Beatboxer Sara Alsheikhly
Only 13, Sara Alsheikhly is already a talented beatboxer. After starting to teach herself beatbox in 2013, Sara eventually met beatboxer Abood Aladham who invited her to participate in the King of the Beat. Sara says she wishes there were more female beatboxers in Jordan & teaches her friends in school to try promote the art. (Afeef Qawasmi)
Popper Yaser Qader
Yaser Qader is an Iraqi refugee who began dancing in 2008 when he moved to Jordan. “When I first started dancing it was just for fun but now it has become my life. I saw dance as a refuge and a healing process, it helped me to connect with more people around the world. In the end, all of us dancers we speak the same language”. (Courtesy photo)
Parkour runner Burhan Kuca Oğlan
Born to a Syrian family in Amman, Burhan Kuca Oğlan is the parkour pioneer of Jordan. The street sport which sees “freerunners” move fluidly and quickly through urban areas, is new to the Hashemite Kingdom. Self-taught, Oglan began coaching aspiring freerunners in Amman, bringing together a new parkour community. (Joel Eggimann)
Parkour and Freerun community Black Iris
Self-taught, Oglan began coaching aspiring freerunners in Amman, bringing together a new parkour community. He teaches moves and techniques, such as the “Human Flag” and the “Corkscrew 360”. (Odai Zeitawi)
Parkour runner Burhan Kuca Oğlan
Burhan’s skills and talent had him reach the World Parkour Final eliminations round held in Athens, Greece in 2013. He was unable to attend as a result of his Syrian nationality. Burhan says however that he has no regrets and continues to work to promote parkour and freerunning in the region. (Odai Zeitawi)