The Taj Mall

Abdoun, Amman, Jordan

Abdoun is the hip, new, rich area of Amman. It is the home of the expansive American embassy, it is the home of the new Taj Mall and the drive-thru Starbucks. The interesting thing about Abdoun is, like any sprawling expanse, it is the new and modern encroaching on the old and traditional. Just outside the mall is a rocky field where goats and cows graze, occassionally running into the streets and causing traffic jams. An area of old rundown multi-family buildings is literally a stones throw from the mall's loading dock. Maybe even more like a hopscotch away. And so it is in Jordan, the very very old mingles with the very very new.

This was the first mall I visited in the Middle East. I went on my second day in Jordan, and I was really shocked by how at home it made me feel. Malls anywhere seem to feel the same (American? Or are malls an international language?). I am now familiar with the love for mega-fancy-malls in this region of the world, but perhaps this is your first look at one. Having just a few days earlier not had any idea of what to expect in Jordan, this was a real primer for me on the existence of the middle class, the urge for and importance of being fashionable and relevant to world trends. A mall full of American stores and other brands I was used to seeing in the malls back in my native California. Teen girls giggling, popping into shops, walking around arm in arm. This was a familiar place for me.

And as I have been in and out of Amman a lot now, I still return here when I need a little hit of home. A movie, a burger from McDonald's, a Starbucks latte. Guilty pleasure? It seems I am not the only one.