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Jordan: With green mosques and schools, Amman pushes for zero emissions
30 October 2018 - Poking above the bright pink bougainvillea that spills into the street, the lone minaret of the Ta'la Al-Ali mosque towers over the Khalda neighbourhood of Amman. Aside from its colourful stain-glassed windows and ornate calligraphy, this mosque stands out for another reason: its roof is covered with shining solar panels that make the building's carbon emissions close to zero. (more)

Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor
12 June 2018 - At the end of a lavish Ramadan buffet in the banquet hall of one of Amman's five-star hotels, a young Jordanian charity worker rushes to gather up left-over food that his team of volunteers will package and redistribute to needy families. Bandar Sharif began his 'Family Kitchen' initiative 10 years ago, [distressed by] the amount of food thrown away by hotels during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally a period when consumption levels double across the region. (more)

Japan to finance 200 MW Jordan solar plant
26 January 2018 - Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is set to finance a 200 MW solar PV plant in Jordan after signing a loan agreement this week. The $260m plant, which will be Jordan's largest, is being developed in the Al-Muwaqqar district in Amman governorate by special-purpose firm Baynouna Solar Energy Company (BSEC). . . BSEC will build and operate the plant, which aims to promote the country's diversification of power sources and is expected to generate 563 GWh per year ... the plant will advance Jordan's target of producing 15 per cent of its domestic electricity needs from renewable sources. (more)

Jordan switches on world's largest solar plant in refugee camp
13 November 2017 - Jordan has switched on the world's largest solar plant inside a refugee camp, providing renewable energy to nearly 80,000 Syrians, the United Nations refugee agency said on Monday (13 November). The 12.9 megawatts solar plant at Zaatari refugee camp, on the border of Jordan and Syria, will allow families to run a fridge, TV, fans, and lights in their shelters, and recharge their phones to maintain contact with others abroad, UNHCR said. The 15 million euro ($17.50 million) project, funded by the German government ... (more)

Open SESAME: science centre inaugurated in Jordan
16 May 2017 - Jordan's King Abdullah II on Tuesday (16 May) formally launched an international research centre whose members include experts from around the world including arch-rivals Iran and Israel. The International Centre for Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, known by the acronym SESAME, 'is the first research centre of its kind in the region,' said the royal court. (more)

Open Sesame: Science centre unveiled in Jordan
16 May 2017 - In a rare show of unity in the Middle East, an advanced research centre to be shared by the troubled region has opened in Jordan. Despite political tensions and rows, countries usually hostile to each other are jointly supporting the venture. Its name is SESAME -- Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East. The facility hosts a synchrotron, a particle accelerator that acts as a powerful microscope. Sesame is a play on the famous phrase 'Open Sesame' and is meant to signal a new era of collaborative science. There are some 60 synchrotrons in use around the world but SESAME will be the first in the Middle East. (more)

Open Sesame: particle accelerator project brings Middle East together
30 August 2016 - In a region racked by conflict and tension, an ambitious research centre is fostering cooperation and scientific advancement. In the sleepy hillside town in al-Balqa, not far from the Jordan Valley, a grand project is taking shape. The Middle East's new particle accelerator -- the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications, or Sesame -- is being built. The site is due to be formally inaugurated next spring, with the first experiments taking place as early as this autumn. It's a miracle it got off the ground in the first place. (more)

Jordan: Archaeologists discover massive Petra monument that could be 2,150 years old
9 June 2016 - Archaeologists have found a monumental structure buried under the sands of Petra, according to a new study that drew on satellite imagery to scan the ancient city. Petra was built by Nabateans more than 2,000 years ago. 'To my knowledge, we don't have anything quite like this at Petra,' said Christopher Tuttle, an archaeologist who has worked at Petra for about 15 years and a co-author of the paper [on the discovery]. Tuttle collaborated on the research with Sarah Parcak, a self-described 'space archaeologist' from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who used satellites to survey the site. (more)

UAE's Masdar to invest $300 mln in Jordan solar project
19 January 2016 - Abu Dhabi green energy firm Masdar is investing around $300 million in a solar power project in Jordan, with more investments planned across the Middle East and North Africa, its chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday, 19 January. The company aims to double its total generating capacity in the next five to ten years, Ahmad Belhoul said. (more)

Christmas tree lit up at holy Christian site in Jordan aiming to send message of peace
14 December 2015 - Jordanians celebrated the upcoming Christmas festivities by lighting up a 12-metre tree at the site some Christians believe is the location of Jesus' baptism. The event aimed at sending a message of peace, Bishop Munib A. Younan, the president of the Lutheran World Federation, said. 'It is a national day when we are lighting this tree to tell the world that living together Muslims and Christians is possible,' he said. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Heavy rains, flooding kill 12 people in Jordan: government
10 November 2018 - Twelve people died in heavy rains and flooding in parts of Jordan on Friday and authorities evacuated foreign tourists from the ancient city of Petra and other popular destinations, officials said on Saturday (10 November). The country has recently been hit by flash floods and heavy downpours. In the worst incident, 21 people -- mostly school children on an outing to the Dead Sea -- were killed as torrential rains poured through valleys and deep ravines. (more)

Ancient Petra sees few visitors as Jordan tourism declines
31 March 2015 - It's high season in Petra, the ancient city hewn from rose-colored rock and Jordan's biggest tourist draw. Yet nearby hotels stand virtually empty these days and only a trickle of tourists make their way through a landmark canyon to the Treasury building where scenes of one of the 'Indiana Jones' movies were filmed. Petra's slump is part of a sharp decline in tourism as Jordan's economy pays a price for regional turbulence. A quick recovery appears doubtful as neighboring Syria and Iraq sink deeper into violence and Islamic State militants continue to control large areas of both countries. 'We are not optimistic for 2015,' said Ahmad Amarat, manager of the 95-room Kings' Way Hotel near Petra, which closed four months ago after an average occupancy rate of 28 percent for 2014, compared to 95 percent in 2010. The tourism troubles are just one of a series of challenges Jordan's economy has faced since the outbreak of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, even though the kingdom experienced little unrest. (more)

Deadly Syrian protest in Jordan camp
6 April 2014 - The United Nations said Sunday it is alarmed at the 'violent nature' of a demonstration in a massive Syrian refugee camp in Jordan that killed one person and wounded dozens. Saturday's deadly protest in the sprawling Zaatari camp reverberated around the region as international aid agencies and host governments struggle to cope and manage millions of Syrians who have fled the 3-year-old conflict and sought shelter in neighbouring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. In a statement, the UN refugee agency said a 'heated demonstration' in Zaatari turned to 'a violent one' after possibly thousands of refugees started throwing rocks at a police post inside the camp. The protest started over a refugee family being held there after police detained them and a driver who tried to smuggle them out, the UNHCR said. Police fired tear gas and there were reports of live ammunition being used, the statement said. Three Syrian refugees were sent to hospital with gunshot wounds and one has since died, the UNHCR said. The statement said 28 policemen were wounded in the protest. Nine tents and five mobile homes were burnt, the agency said. (more)

Syrians stuck at Jordanian border
24 May 2013 - Thousands of people are gathering in villages in southern Syria, unable to seek refuge in Jordan because of insecurity along the border or, according to some, new Jordanian security measures. In Nasib village, just 2km from one of four border crossings between Jordan and Syria, there are 10,000 displaced people waiting to leave Syria, according to village imam Abu Omar. He said government security forces abandoned the village 'long ago'. The area surrounding the village is very tense, with the sound of heavy artillery 'louder than ever', according to a local Jordanian newspaper. On several occasions in recent months, the surroundings of the village have been shelled or hit by gunfire. Just yesterday, Abu Omar said, a rocket fell in the village, causing minor injuries. Despite the insecurity, he said, for the last seven days, Syrians attempting to cross the border have been turned back, told by border officials that the Jordanian intelligence services are currently refusing any entry, except emergency medical cases. (more)

Jordan staggers under fallout of Syria conflict
3 February 2013 - Jordan has every reason to worry about the conflict in Syria, its bigger neighbour to the north. A flood of Syrian refugees and disrupted trade due to the 22-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad burden a frail economy that has already had to turn to the IMF. Any emergence of Islamist rule in a post-Assad Syria could embolden Islamists who are the main opposition group in Jordan. And rising Islamist militancy among Syrian insurgents threatens the security of the Western-backed kingdom next door. Jordan also frets that protracted sectarian turmoil might shatter Syria's territorial integrity, with incalculable results for its neighbours in an already volatile Middle East. 'The challenge we have is that the longer this conflict goes on, the more the country will implode,' King Abdullah said last month, describing any fragmentation of Syria as 'catastrophic and something we would be reeling from for decades to come'. (more)

Riot breaks out in Syrian refugee camp in Jordan
8 January 2013 - Syrian refugees in a Jordanian camp attacked aid workers with sticks and stones on Tuesday, frustrated after cold, howling winds swept away their tents, and torrential rains flooded muddy streets overnight. Police said seven aid workers were injured. The refugees may be about to face even deeper misery with warnings of a major snowstorm threatening Jordan and Turkey. The riot broke out after the region's first major winter storm this year hit the Zaatari refugee camp, home to nearly 50,000 refugees in Jordan's northern desert. Inside the camp, pools and lakes surrounded tents, stranding refugees, including pregnant women and infants. Fadi Suleiman, 30, said camp conditions were 'worse than living in Syria,' where rebels are fighting a civil war against authoritarian ruler Bashar Assad that has killed some 60,000 people. 'It's one misery after the other as the international community sits idle, doing nothing to help us get rid of the tyrant Assad,' he said. (more)

Child deaths and bitter cold in Syrian refugee camps
16 December 2012 - Zaatari, a tented refugee camp in north Jordan, houses at least 32,000 refugees who escaped fierce bombardment in Syria's rebellious southern province of Deraa, cradle of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Mirroring Syria's youthful population, almost 65 per cent of Jordan's camp residents are newborns and young children. Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey each host more than 130,000 registered refugees, and relief workers predict the numbers will only increase as violence escalates around Syria's capital Damascus. While aid teams were racing to improve conditions at Zaatari, there were 100,000 other registered refugees living outside the camp and probably another 100,000 unregistered, whose living conditions were not improving. In Lebanon, too, host to 154,000 refugees, many face a bleak winter, and aid workers expect their numbers to more than double by the middle of next year. Across the region, aid workers fear an explosion in violence could leave them seriously overstretched. (more)

Government backers, police, attack Jordan protest, 1 dead
25 March 2011 - Protesters demanding reforms clashed with government supporters in the center of Jordan's capital on Friday, pelting each other with stones until security forces charged in and beat protesters, killing one, as unrest intensified. The clashes, in which more than 100 were injured, were the most violent in more than two months of protests inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and the death was the first of a protester since the unrest began. Noor Smadi, 23, said she was beaten by police until 'I fainted.' 'Our Cabinet is a bunch of criminals,' she said. 'They had policemen beat us savagely, although we insisted that our protest was peaceful.' (more)

Jordanians share Palestinian despondency on peace
29 November 2009 - Outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, despair at the failure of years of US-led Middle East peacemaking is perhaps felt nowhere more keenly than in Jordan. Jordan, a small aid-dependent country with many Palestinians among its 6 million people, has for years hitched itself to Washington in the hope that its U.S. ally would one day cajole Israel into accepting Arab demands for an end to occupation and the emergence of a Palestinian state in exchange for peace. President Barack Obama's failure to secure his own demand that Israel stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is seen here as a humiliating sign that US diplomacy can never achieve the far harder goal of a two-state solution. (more)

Jordan King dissolves Parliament, calls election
24 November 2009 - Jordan's King Abdullah has dissolved Parliament halfway through its four-year term and called for early elections, state television reported Monday. No reason was given for the King's sudden decision, but the Assembly had been accused of inept handling of legislation and there had been speculation it might be dissolved. Liberal politicians say the move could herald a wider government shake-up to ward off popular disenchantment over economic contraction after years of growth, and allegations of official graft. Many politicians have accused Prime Minister Nader Dahabi's government of mismanagement as it grappled with the impact of the global downturn on the aid-dependent economy and a rise in public debt to record levels. (more)


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