Syrian refugees in Jordan bolster income, preserve culture through dance


AMMAN, Jordan (AFP) – Singing joyfully to beating drums, Syrian refugees who fled brutal civil war execute regular “Arada” dances in neighboring Jordan, honoring their home tradition and earning extra earnings.

Their performances, that includes traditional robes and whirling swords, have come to be progressively well known in Jordan for marking festivities like weddings and events.

“They include an atmosphere of joy to our celebration,” said Fahed Shehadeh, who employed the Bab al-Hara dance troupe in the money Amman to mark the graduation of his two sons from college.

“I am Jordanian but of Syrian origin, and I introduced the group because I admire their dancing techniques, new music, outfits and their tracks,” explained 55-yr-aged Shehadeh, celebrating with family members, mates and neighbors.

Traditionally noticed at weddings, the attractiveness of Arada — rooted in the Arabic for a “performance” — has had its tunes modified to healthy several celebrations.

A troupe usually consists of 10 to 20 dancers, putting on loose-fitting black trousers, white cotton shirts, embroidered vests, white skullcaps and a shawl wrapped about the midsection.

Moutaz Boulad (L), chief of the “Bab al-Hara” common Syrian “Arada” dance troupe, assists associates as they gear up to execute in a celebration for the graduation of two of the sons of a single of their members, Fahed Shehadeh, from universities, in Jordan’s money Amman on June 24, 2022. (Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)

Swords and ornamental shields are worn, and the dance culminates in users spinning their blades in the air, before partaking in ceremonial battling.

The troupe leader, Moutaz Boulad, 60, said Arada experienced developed in attractiveness in Amman, with daily events in the summer months months and numerous engagements each individual week in winter.

Boulad, who remaining Syria in 1988, says the reveals have become an critical usually means to receive funds for some of those who fled the war that erupted in 2011.

“Some of the dancers had been not very good when they very first came to us, but they learned from my sons and I in buy to enhance their money problem,” he said.

Syrian “Arada” folklore dancers of the “Bab al-Hara” troupe complete whilst in classic garb all through a celebration for the graduation of two of the sons of 1 of their members, Fahed Shehadeh, from universities, in Jordan’s capital Amman on June 24, 2022. (Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)

Syria’s war is approximated to have killed approximately half a million people and displaced thousands and thousands extra than 6.6 million fled to neighboring Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

Jordan hosts almost 650,000 Syrians registered with the United Nations, but Amman estimates near to 1.3 million Syrians have arrived given that 2011.

The UN has stated that close to 80 per cent of Syrians in Jordan live beneath the countrywide poverty line, surviving on three dollars for each day or less.

Boulad said his dancers arrived from many skilled backgrounds.

Moutaz Boulad (L), leader of the “Bab al-Hara” traditional Syrian “Arada” dance troupe, helps members as they equipment up to complete in a celebration for the graduation of two of the sons of a single of their members, Fahed Shehadeh, from universities, in Jordan’s money Amman on June 24, 2022. (Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)

“Most dancers have unique jobs in addition to the Arada,” Boulad reported. “Some are university pupils, accountants, cafe staff, tailors and electricians — but this is a thing that presents an amount of money of cash to aid cope with everyday living.”

For dancers like Ahmed Abu Shadi, 43, who fled Syria in 2013 and is effective as a plumber, performing the Arada can help him elevate his three children.

“With plumbing, there are days when I function, and days with no clients,” he reported. “For Arada, they pay back me 15 dinars ($20) each individual time I go out to dance.  Although it is a compact total, it will help in my everyday living.”

A different member, who labored in a health-related laboratory and requested for his title to be withheld, fled the Syrian town of Homs in 2018.

The dancing can help include some $300 just about every thirty day period to his regular $700 salary from the laboratory to assistance his loved ones, although they wait for applications by the UN refugee company to be processed.

“I have utilized for asylum via the UNHCR and hope we can begin a new lifestyle overseas,” he mentioned.

Inspite of displacement and economic worries, dancing the Arada continues to be a key element of Ahmed Abu Shadi’s lifetime.

Syrian “Arada” folklore dancers of the “Bab al-Hara” troupe carry out whilst in regular garb all through a celebration for the graduation of two of the sons of a single of their associates, Fahed Shehadeh, from universities, in Jordan’s funds Amman on June 24, 2022. (Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)

“This dance is a pretty essential element of our Syrian id, heritage, lifestyle and our everyday lifestyle — we have to maintain and teach it to our children and grandchildren,” he explained.

“This artwork is in my blood, I enjoy it, I cannot imagine myself, my lifetime without the need of this.”

He desires of just one day dancing all over again on his house soil.

“I will go on to dance wherever I go,” he said.

“But of course, I favor that the circumstance enhances one day so that we can all return to our region, Syria.”

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