Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

Rural day in Zai, As-Salt generates sizeable revenues for local vendors

21 Sep 2018
Fatmeh Zoubi
Zai, As-Salt

Eager groups of friends and families headed to Yawm Al Reef, an event at Al Sindian Village in Zai on Friday, September 21, 2018, to spend a day in the Jordanian countryside, listening to live music, enjoying traditional dishes such as knafeh and mshakhan, and filling their bags with goods, local produce and crafts.

The event was organized by the Salt Development Corporation and USAID BEST to support vendors from As-Salt and Amman to showcase their products to a larger audience. The venue was contributed by the Basheer family. Forty vendors took part in the market, most of them women, selling fresh grapes, labaneh, makdoos, jams, accessories, ceramics, banana leaf baskets, and much more.

“This is the first time I participate in such an amazing and well-organized event!” said one vendor who has been taking part in bazaars for 10 years. On Friday, she gathered a small crowd as she stood before a table carrying bowls filled with spices and dried herbs to demonstrate how za’tar is made. This event was a great success for her, as it helped cover the costs of her daughter’s university dorm and household bills. “I made triple what I usually make in other events in Amman and Salt!” she exclaimed. “I was very grateful to be able to give my daughter the money and pay the bill only by participating in this great event!”

Others echoed her sentiment. “I was recently forced to move my son from a private to a public school,” another woman said. “I owed the private school money and I was worried where I would get it from. My participation in this bazar helped me pay the school and even left extra cash for myself!”

Mohammad Bakeer of Iskandarani Café, a local coffee spot in Hammam Street in As Salt, also took part and said, “It was a great opportunity and I will definitely participate again.”

Activities at the event included pottery painting, henna art, dying textiles using natural dyes, and dressing up in traditional clothing. Visitors kept streaming in throughout the day.

“It was nice to see all of these people gathered in one place,” said Mohammad Khraisat, who made fresh knafeh at the event. “They all wanted to try the knafeh I make!”

“This is the first time I sell everything I take with me to an event!” said Fatmeh Zoubi, who was selling freshly-baked pastries. Everybody passed by her booth for a bite, including H.E. Lina Annab, the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities.

Overall, the event drew in more than 1,500 visitors and generated thousands of dinars in revenue for the participating vendors. Many vendors were featured on television and received phone calls from  people wanting to place orders for their products. The Rural Day in Zai was filled with high-spirits all around, from the vendors and shoppers to families and children who enjoyed a great activity-laden day out.

The event was part of wider efforts by the Salt Development Corporation and USAID BEST to establish As-Salt and its rural areas as an attractive tourism destination and encourage visitation, both domestic and international, to the area.