Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan was in Al Salt on Monday to visit local heritage and touristic initiatives. Her Majesty showed her support for grassroots development projects in the city when she stopped in at the oldest Arabic sweet shop in the city centre and Beit Aziz’s bed and breakfast, where she started her tour.
Queen Rania met with Hadab Initiative founders Mr Mohammad Jenini, Mrs Lana Ma’ani, and Mr Laith Abu Al Samen at the B&B along with a number of women who have benefited from the initiative, most hailing from Madaba and Al Zarqa.
The founders spoke with Her Majesty about how the Hadab and Beit Aziz initiatives have created livelihoods for dozens of local families. The programs bring tourism and community empowerment together by creating an opportunity to introduce tourists to authentic Jordanian heritage and culture.
The Queen toured Beit Aziz, which was recently restored after more than a hundred years in operation. It is not the first bed and breakfast in Al Salt and enjoys panoramic views of the mosques and churches in the old city. Beit Aziz promotes the preservation of local heritage by offering tourists Hadab and other workshops that are led by local women.
The Hadab initiative employs a number of local women to weave elaborate white hems for the Jordanian shemagh, preserving the traditional hand-sewn art which has been passed down through generations of women. The hemmed shemaghs are marketed as original gifts in attractive packaging through social media outreach. During her visit, Queen Rania sat in on a Hadab training workshop and took part in the hemming of a shemagh.
The Al Balqa Orchestra and Choir performed for the Queen on Beit Aziz’s terrace before she was briefed on the efforts of the Ruaq Al Urdon for Arts and Culture initiative to raise artistic and cultural awareness across Jordan.
Her Majesty spoke of the pride she takes in the efforts of the women and initiative founders she met to preserve Jordanian culture and help women contribute to the process while simultaneously giving them the means to help support their families.
Following her visit to the B&B Queen Rania travelled to Mattal Al Jad’aa to meet with youth from the Al Salt Film Centre who has participated in the ‘My City’ competition run by the Royal Film Commission. Participants produced short documentaries about tourist sites in Al Salt.
The visit concluded on a sweet note with a trip to the city’s oldest sweet shop – Al Hanbali Arabic sweets shop – which was established in 1953.