(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The difficult financial situation that many Jordanians are going through has led traders at a popular seasonal market in Jabal Amman to expect very little revenues.
Merchants offering their goods at the Jabal Amman Residents Association's (JARA) annual outdoor souk told The Jordan Times on Friday, when the market officially opened, that they don't expect good business this year.
Boutros Backal, a handicraft trader who is taking part in the souk for the second consecutive year, said the difficult financial situation in the Kingdom determines whether Souk JARA or any other project is successful or not.
"Last year, the situation was much better than this year. Let's see how it will go this year," he told The Jordan Times outside his stall.
But some merchants said the outdoor market is useful in finding new customers.
Omar Hijjawi, who annually participates in the Friday souk, noted that he only benefits from Souk JARA by promoting his products to potential clients.
"I don't make much profit. The only thing I get is new customers," added Hijjawi, who sells house decorations.
Um Ali Atoum, the oldest merchant at the souk, agreed with Hijjawi.
"Most traders in Souk JARA mainly use it to promote their products and gain new customers," the 67-year-old said while decorating her stall.
Hijjawi told The Jordan Times that the annual market attracts foreigners more than Jordanians.
"Handmade items usually appeal more to tourists," he noted.
Organised by JARA in cooperation with the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), Souk JARA, which is being held for the eighth consecutive year, is organised with the aim of providing women and men who work at home, as well as local charities, with a chance to showcase their products.
The souk, located on Fawzi Malouf Street (off Rainbow Street) in Jabal Amman, opens to the public every Friday from 10:00am until 10:00pm. It continues until September 30.
In addition to 110 booths showcasing handicrafts and handmade items, the market also includes several restaurants, play areas for children, and a stage that will host shows and concerts performed by Jordanian artists.
But for some customers like Amal Ahmad, the souk is expensive despite its attractive products.
"There are rings or necklaces that cost around JD8 or JD10, which is not affordable for everyone," she said.
On the other hand, the souk also provides an opportunity for young Jordanians to earn their pocket money.
Twelve-year-olds Kareem Masri and Subhi Qabbani said that their families encouraged them to take part in this year's souk by selling sweets.
"I wanted to earn my own pocket money to buy a cell phone," Masri said.
"In one hour, we earned JD28, something we did not expect. I helped my mother make the sweets on Thursday," Qabbani told The Jordan Times while serving coffee to customers.
But Souk JARA remains a success story that GAM seeks to emulate to revive other old neighbourhoods in Amman, according to Mohammad Annab, vice president of GAM's committee.
Describing the idea as brilliant, Annab said the souk contributed to boosting tourism in Amman and the Kingdom.
"I have been meeting with members of the Friends of Al Waibdeh Society in Jabal Luweibdeh, and we are planning to implement projects and learn from JARA's experience to boost tourism in the area," he told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of Souk JARA's opening ceremony on Friday.
Meanwhile, JARA also opened its new visitors information centre, which is financially and technically supported by the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project (Siyaha), according to a USAID statement.
The centre provides visitors with information on the range of attractions and services available in Jabal Amman, the statement said.
The Jabal Amman walking trail, which begins at the centre and guides visitors through the area, passing key historical and cultural attractions, was also launched.
"The project will contribute to increasing the number of individual travellers to Jordan," Tourism Minister Nayef Al Fayez told The Jordan Times.