Posts tagged “Intercontinental


Posted on January 31, 2012

I first visited Amman in the winter of 1980.  It was cold, wet and windy and the capital’s 500,000 inhabitants retreated behind the stark concrete walls of their houses and apartments that stretched over the hills surrounding the city. It was relatively small compared with bustling Cairo or Damascus and appeared to have little of their charm, intimate architecture or extensive historical heritage. There were just two international hotels, the Intercontinental and the Holiday Inn, and these were packed with consultants, businessmen and the occasional traveller. Returning there in 2010, I was shocked by the scale and density of the city with its population now standing at over 2.4 million – almost half that of Jordan.  High-rise tower blocks dominate the horizon, a testimony to Amman’s new status as…

Aqaba, Jordan

Posted on January 31, 2012

Think Aqaba. Think Lawrence of Arabia and that wonderful scene in David Lean’s iconic film with Peter O’Toole, in full Arab regalia, astride his camel, shouting ‘tut, tut, tut’ as the Arab tribesmen gallop across the desert toward the unsuspecting Turks, holed up in their impregnable fortress, overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba. Or Omar Sharif, making his screen debut, emerging from the shimmering mirage and shooting Lawrence’s manservant dead for daring to take water from his tribe’s well. Shooting a man dead for simply filling his satchel with water would appear abhorrent to the average Westerner, regardless of the time setting. But venture out into the desert around Aqaba at the height of summer when temperatures exceed 122°F (50°C),  and you will understand that water is…