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33rd Jerash festival kicks off, celebrates Karameh Battle

By Ahmed Bani Mustafa - Jul 20,2018 - Last updated at Jul 20,2018

Officials and staff of Jerash festival take to the stage as the 33rd edition of the signature cultural event is inaugurated on Thursday (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

JERASH — The 33rd Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts officially opened on Thursday with the lighting of the torch by Tourism Minister Lina Annab in the Northern Theatre of the historical Greco-Roman city.

The minister deputised for His Majesty King Abdullah at the opening of the signature cultural and art event, whose 33rd edition was titled “Karameh” as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Karameh Battle, in which Jordanian armed forces repelled an Israeli invasion in the Jordan Valley town after which the battle was named. 

It also coincides with the 72nd anniversary of the Kingdom’s independence, noted Aqel Biltaji, head of the festival’s higher committee.

 The “globally renowned” Jerash festival will feature performances by several Arab singers, local, Arab and international troupes and poetry recitals, in addition to exhibitions of arts, handicrafts and local products, according to Biltaji. 

The opening ceremony, attended by EU Ambassador to Jordan Andrea Fontana, Iraqi Ambassador Safia Al Suhail, Jerash Governor Maamoun Lozi  and Jerash Mayor Ali Quqazeh, also included a operetta performed by Jordanian singers accompanied by a band from the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army.  

In an interview following the ceremony, Annab told The Jordan Times that the continuation of the festival over three decades indicates the importance of the event, as well as the stability and security of the Kingdom.

It also highlights the fact that the “festival is successful and has loyal visitors”, she added.

She noted that several governorates, including the capital, Irbid, Karak, Salt, and Zarqa, will also host events as part of the festival, highlighting its socioeconomic importance “as it contributes to attracting foreign and local visitors and helps local communities across Jordan to showcase their products”.

For his part, Fontana expressed his delight over being in Jerash as it reminds him of the long history of relations between Europe and Jordan. 

“We should support anything that would bring people together and encourage cultural exchanging”, Fontana said.

He pointed out that the EU is keen on supporting Jordan in all fields, including culture.

Ambassador Suhail commended the management of the multi-activity event, adding that the Iraqi people have been always keen to visit the festival since its beginnings, including the ambassador herself when she was studying at the University of Jordan.

She said that Jordan is a main destination for Iraqis, expressing hope that the numbers of festival-goers would increase in the future as part of joint efforts to enhance cooperation in various fields.   

The Jerash festival is held in the ancient Greco-Roman town of Jerash, 48km north of Amman, known in the past as Gerasa.

The festival’s administration has released a 3D video that illustrates the location of the festival and how it can be reached from different cities.

Visitors can download the festival’s app at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.imagine_amman.jerashfestival/ 

Information regarding the festival’s programmes is available at www.jerashfestival.jo and www.facebook.com/Festival.Jarash/.

The festival was cancelled three times, in 1982, 2006 and in 2008 for three years. In 2011 it was resumed and since then business has been as usual.

As one of the leading cultural events in Middle East and North Africa, Jerash festival was first held in 1981, established by Her Majesty Queen Noor in coordination with Yarmouk University.

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