Abdoun Travel Guide. Amman, Jordan
Urban guide to Amman, Jordan by Roba Al-Assi, as published in Gulf Life. A part of a series of three, covering three areas: Jabal Amman, Abdoun, and Weibdeh.
ABDOUN Its star may have faded, but Abdoun is still the ideal spot for a bit of retro chic There was a time when driving round and round Abdoun Circle in Amman was the coolest thing ever. So what if there wasn't an awful lot to do if you pulled over and got out of the car, except perhaps look in at the Prana nightclub or hang out at the then-hippest branch of McDonald's? It was the 90s, after all. More than ten years on and Abdoun is still cool, with new attractions including, just down from the Circle, the superilluminated Abdoun Bridge, referred to locally as Jisr AlNogeifeh (Slingshot Bridge) because of its uncanny resemblance to a rubber catapult. The centre of attraction has shifted though, and the BMWs and other smart kids' cars now cruise down the road in New Abdoun. One of the first draws at this end of town was the restaurant Blue Fig  (Al-Ameer Hashem Bin Al-Hussein St, +962 6 592 8800), renowned for its striking post-modernist architecture (it is designed by one of Jordan's top architects, Khalid Nahhas) as well as for its chic and sophisticated ambience: work by local artists on the walls, fusion and world music on the decks. The place is still hugely popular, with a menu that is sufficiently accomplished and inventive to invite repeat visits. Shame the chairs are so uncomfortable. The trail blazed into New Abdoun by Blue Fig has since become well trodden. Bunzy Buns  (off Al-Ameer Hashim Cai 5 7 6 Hish am Al-H ajaw yS t ro S t reet Abdoun Circle Abdoun Bridge 8 Queen Z e in 9 10 C airo S Abou Nile St t agheb St Al -R Has san St ash im B Maje d Al- Hajj in H Str ee t uss ein S AlSha raf t Dama scus S t Dama scus S Prin t ce A l i Bi n Hus sein S 3 4 Saed A b do S Prin ce H 1 ham out S t t 200m 2 Pan-Arab brand Tch� Tch� (below) opened its first branch in Abdoun () Bin Hussein St), which opened a few blocks down, staked its claim with plush purple couches and a serve-everything-in-a bun-including-soup food menu � gimmicky to be sure, but it works. American restaurant Bennigan's  (Abdo Shammoot St, +962 6 592 0769), a popular tavern-themed diner back in the US, quickly filled up with Abdounis drinking mocktails and eating burgers. Aping real-world geopolitics, the Canadians Hip restaurant Blue Fig was one of the first businesses to open in New Abdoun bruno morandi 88 GULFLIFE GULFLIFE 89 With its legendary falafels and tasty hummus, Al-Osra is the place to go for a midnight snack Q&A Ameen Malhas Ameen Malhas is the owner of Champions, a popular clothing store that first opened its doors in 1992, right beside Abdoun Circle. soon moved in next door in the form of Java U  (Saed Abdo Shammoot St, +962 6 592 0716), a Canuck coffeeshop serving both hazelnut Americanas and cherry sheesha. Cultural assimilation at its best. A more traditional face of Abdoun can be seen at a tiny intersection right off Cairo Street, a five-minute walk west of Abdoun Circle. This is where you'll find Al-Osra  (Hisham Al-Hajawy St), a falafel shop that stays open late feeding hungry crowds well into the night. The staff serve their offerings so mechanically that they would put a factory line to shame, but the food still tastes great. Along the same street, the college students gather in their cars sipping hot coffee from Cups & Kilos , while the school kids cluster round Frankfurter  for hotdogs. And what of Abdoun Circle itself? Well, it remains an essential stop-off for a blast of retro cool. Gerard's , many people's favorite ice cream store, still serves the city's best cold refreshments, as well as deliciously hot sahlab during the chill winter months. Tch� Tch�  also thrives; the caf� chain is now 20 branches ( ) ]3[ . ( ) ]4[ . ( ) ]5[ . . . ]6[ . ]7[ . ]8[ ]9[ . 20 . . . Abdoun was literally a village in 1992. How did you know it would become so popular? The decision to open here was based on my mother's gut feeling that the kids walking to the Orthodox Club would need something to do beyond burn in the sun. Those kids in white shorts with tennis racquets were the original Abdounis. What makes Abdoun special? It's a commercial heaven, and that draws Amman's youth and nouveau riche. What's your favourite thing about it? It's the only place in the city that's got a proper network of pavements. What are the things in Abdoun that you just can't do without? I love Noodasia because it's got great sushi and a wide variety of Asian food. And of course the ever-popular Gibraltar Bookshop, which is where I feed my literary and media addiction. GULFLIFE 91 1992 . 1992 . . . . . . Abdoun is the place to sample Amman's caf� culture, and there's nowhere better than Bunzy Buns (top) and Java U (bottom) () ) ( strong, stretching from Bahrain to Egypt, but here on Abdoun Circle is where it began, and the original is just as packed and hazy with sheesha smoke as it has always been. There's even a new generation of trendy kids making the McDonald's fashionable all over again. So, give Abdoun a look; it really does have something for all tastes. . �� . . . Y �� . . �� ( ) ]1[ . . . . "" ( ) ]2[ � � . . 92 GULFLIFE