Voices of Jordan is the story of a nation through the eyes and lives of its own people. In the past few months, I have traveled north and south of Jordan to see, hear and experience the lives of different people who will be featured in the book. I have conducted dozens of interviews, visited people in their homes, in their workplace, and neighborhoods. It continues to be an inspiring journey filled with both questions and answers. Meanwhile, the photography work and writing is taking up most of our time for this project but I have also been spending many hours reading transcripts and making sure that both, the voice of the characters and their environment are depicted as accurately as possible.
Ordinary citizens are largely absent from the debate in shaping the current and future of the Middle East. The book gives a voice and contributes to freedom of expression as the Jordanian characters and the Syrian refugee bring insight into politics, religion, society and modernization amid an ancient but urbanizing culture. They speak about the deeper problems of the Middle East, once the current spate of civil conflicts is over. There is little literature that has been published about modern Jordan and its people. Most books published include biographies of high-ranking officials, history, tourism, archeology and novels. The project is a source for those who want to understand the country and its people today.
A project such as this requires team work. A non-fiction book requires many hour of field work, observing and interviewing. I have been lucky to work with some of greatest people to make the vision come true but for some of the people on the team, this is their first time working on such a comprehensive project and it has added insight into the process of writing and producing a book. Others continue to work on website updates, create maps, fact check, translate, take photos. This has created a real sense of team work to produce the best results at the end. As for some of the characters featured in the book, this is the first time they tell their story and it has resulted in increased confidence and knowledge that their story and voice is being heard.
“People perceive freedom as perversion, as rebellion, but on the contrary it could mean the freedom to be more affectionate, the freedom to be more innovative.” Omar Al Abdallat, Jordanian artist and cartoonist for © Voices of Jordan: Arab Lives in Conflict