There are many common misconceptions about the Middle East. Most are incorrect and hurtful to the reputation of the region, but the Middle East isn’t as bad as the media makes you think.
Not many people have actually heard of Jordan. It’s a small country (around 34,500 km long, with a population of around 10 million) located in the Middle East, surrounded by Saudi Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Israel, and Iraq. It also touches the Dead Sea and the Red Sea.
I lived in the capital of Jordan (Amman) for 13 years. I grew up there, and I have seen everything the country
has to offer. The country has changed in many ways over the years for better, and for worse.
I learned to not take anything for granted, and to appreciate the things I was given. Jordan is still considered a predominantly third-world country, with one of the world’s lowest water supply. Water was distributed by a truck, given in gallons, everyone in Jordan had a boiler which needed to be filled with water every couple days.
The reason for me living in such a unique country was because my father, Omar Shaker, was from here. He was raised in Jordan his whole life. He met my mother at the University of Tennessee whilst trying to obtain a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and decided to move back to Jordan with my mother to continue his father’s steel mesh business.
I lived on a quiet road called Al-Mutanabbi Street, right in between a hospital and a supermarket. Not many people actually came through my street, despite the important surrounding buildings. I lived in an old, two-story house. My family lived in the bottom floor and my grandparents lived on the top floor.
As a child, my parents hid the dangers of the region from me for the sake of my happiness. I had a great childhood, and many lifelong friends. My best friends’ names were Najeeb, Ghassan, Nawaf, Karam, and Eddie. Some of these friends were huge influences in my life, all in good ways.
Growing up in Jordan, you learn a lot of values with everyone who has grown up with you. I went to a British private school called Amman Baccalaureate School, and grew up with the same people since kindergarten.
Najeeb’s father was the prime minister of Jordan, and I used to go over to his house every Friday after school with Eddie and Ghassan. Nawaf was my neighbor, and in Jordan, you usually didn’t know your neighbors too well. Karam also lived close to me, and I went to his house almost every day with Nawaf.
I haven’t been to Jordan since 2013, up until this summer, I visited my country for the first time in five years. The country has changed drastically over this short time period.
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