Cultural and creative industries

While the overall climate in Jordan is very conducive to the development of cultural and creative industries, their average weight in the economy is still small. Some fields are well developed and benefit from an international reputation, such as architecture or publishing, while other segments, such as visual arts, performing arts, audiovisual and music, are less dynamic and have a lower critical mass. Cultural and creative industries also lack the presence of a complete value chain and a supportive network of services. Furthermore, traditional skills and know-how have largely disappeared, with present handicrafts being the result of efforts to revitalize certain objects, patterns, or skills. Throughout Jordan, artisans and cooperatives tend to produce the same products and use similar designs, which lack a unique association to a region or other elements of cultural heritage and diversity. Over 25,000 micro businesses — 98 per cent of which are informal — produce all the Jordanian goods with a focus on textiles (including embroidery and weaving), ceramics and pottery, mosaic, jewellery and olive wood products.


Existing cluster framework and cluster programmes

While Jordan does not currently have a national cluster policy, several initiatives have been undertaken lately to create one. The most recent one by the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, but no actual implementation has taken place. For example, the Jordan Enterprise Development Corporation (JEDCO) is elaborating, in collaboration with the Jordan Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Jordanian Geographic Centre, a mapping of the whole economy. With regards to cultural and creative industries, the Jordan Handicrafts Traders Association (JHTA) and the Jordan Handicrafts Producers Association (JHPA) are working to establish horizontal linkages within the sector. Mostly under the patronage of the royal Hashemite family, larger NGOs also play a major role in developing and reviving crafts.


Potential clusters in cultural and creative industries

The lack of geographical specialization of the handicraft production, together with an early state of development for most cultural and creative industries, resulted in the identification of clusters mostly in Amman. Economic realities outside the capital are much smaller and do not fulfil the five cluster criteria.

The clusters are:

  • Advertising in Amman
  • Architecture in Amman
  • Clothing in Amman and Irbid
  • Decorative pottery and ceramics in Amman
  • Filming in Amman
  • Furniture in Amman
  • Habitat high-end designers in Amman
  • Mosaic and crafts in Madaba and Amman
  • Publishing in Amman
  • Stones in Amman
  • Weaving and embroidery in Amman


Other economic realities in cultural and creative industries

These economic concentrations do not fulfil the five cluster criteria but are important for further development assistance:

  • Crafts in Jerash, Aqaba and Petra: most cities are developing crafts but are too small and not sufficiently specialized to work as clusters
  • Performing arts and music: Jordanian performing arts do not have the sufficient critical mass to be considered a cluster
  • Videogames: this is a young and promising sector with strong growth potential but currently without sufficient critical mass to work as a cluster
  • Online media: this too is a young and promising sector with strong growth potential but currently without sufficient critical mass to work as a cluster
  • Digital arts: another young and promising sector with strong growth potential but currently without sufficient critical mass to work as a cluster
  • Shoes and leather: there are only few small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the sector and they do not have the sufficient critical mass to operate as a cluster
  • Gold and jewellery: there is neither a geographical concentration nor the necessary amount of companies to operate as a cluster


The two selected clusters

Fashion cluster in Amman:

  • Sector: training and development of the fashion sector and clothing industry, with a focus on design and brand development
  • Strengths: the cluster is in one of the country’ strongest existing industries. It has a good critical mass of companies (some of them are very consolidated groups), a training centre, high exports, and its own brands. It is also aligned with previous programmes of the Italian Development Cooperation. Overall, the cluster has great potential at both the national and international level
  • Weaknesses: the cluster has a weak link to heritage and a lack of contact with local embroidery skills


Ceramics cluster in Amman:

  • Sector: ceramics cluster in Amman
  • Strengths: the cluster has a clear vision and a strategic plan, good development potential, already-exporting signing companies, and a good level of technique control. It also contemplates social inclusiveness (i.e. providing jobs for woman) and is linked to the local heritage (ceramics and mosaic)
  • Weaknesses: the cluster’s weakness lie in its few companies and in some difficulties in the supply process as a result of the high price of the raw material, which is partially imported



For more information, please contact:

Omar Al-Fanek
National Project Coordinator