The Duke's Diwan

Location:  

31.95187, 35.9334

External Id: SPT012

The Duke’s Diwan is one of the oldest, well preserved stone buildings you can find in the heart of Amman. Occupying the second floor at 12 King Faisal Street, next to the Arab Bank, it stands as a highly visible reminder of the beautiful architectural heritage of the Jordanian capital. Built in 1924, by the late Abdul Rahman Madi, the premise was leased to the newly established Emirate of Trans-Jordan’s government as the Central Post Office until the late forties. In 1948, and for the following 50 years, it became the venue of Haifa Hotel. The property consists of fiver high-ceiling rooms of different sizes connected to a centra salon. The floor is tiled with chequered black and green 20x20 ceramics. Large arched windows occupy much of the half-meter wide walls to usher in light and breeze. The façade from the busy street is constructed of typical Ammani white carved stones with top of the columns elaborately chiselled. In the middle of the façade, a lone balcony with a grid leads to and from the salon through similarly high arched glassed doors. To the left and right, the balcony is flanked by four large wood windows, two on each side. Arched stones top each window. The main entrance on the western sidewalk of King Faisal Street carries the number 12, where a steep staircase of 28 steps of yellow ceramic into the property. In 2001, it caught the attention of Mamdouh Bisharat, the “Duke of Mukheibeh” who envisaged a new role for the premise> He immediately leased it from the Madi family and named it the “Duke’s Diwan”. By taking charge of the place, the Duke wanted to set it as an example and pioneer project to stand up to the onslaught of concrete and aluminium “culture” sweeping on of the oldest metropoles in history, the ancient Greco-Roman city of Philadelphia (Amman today), with the aim of keeping the city’s authenticity and character alive in the collective memory of its inhabitant. A parallel purpose initiative to raise awareness among the public on the importance of keeping the old part of Amman beyond the reach of the arms and cranes in the name of modernity and entrepreneurship. The Duke’s view on the subject is simple and straightforward as his words: “We cannot enjoy modernity, if we neglect our past and heritage”. On the practical level the Diwan’s doors are always open for talents, new and old, whether its music, writing, painting, poetry, drama and so forth. Thus far, numerous literary and artistic activities were held in the Diwan, to the delight of both the handpicked audience and performers. Casual discussions on the history of Amman regularly take place within the walls of the premise. Guests and participants include Royalties, intellectuals, writers, poets, historians, academics and almost anyone with a taste for history and art in general and of old Amman in particular. N.B. Diwan in Arabic means the section of the house whose doors are always open to guests. The title “Duke” was bestowed on Mr. Bisharat by the late King Hussein in recognition of his various services to the community.