Ammon News, Culture & Society

Jordanian's copywriting firm is the last word

[3/13/2018 3:43:44 PM]

AMMONNEWS - So in 2008, when she struggled to find decent translators while she was working with an NGO in Jordan, she knew what to do. “We had a lot of documents that needed to be translated from English into Arabic,” says Ms Al Hassan, who originally trained as a lawyer. “The outcome was disappointing, unfortunately, due to a lack of resources and companies which were able to take this [work] on.” So she set up her own copywriting company – Tarjama, to plug the gap. The company, which was initially based in Amman, Jordan, provided website and brochure material in English and Arabic for both local and regional clients. Some of her biggest customers worked in the real estate sector in the UAE, where business was booming at the time. She later moved here, where she expanded the business by acquiring a translation company. But then another problem arose. “Unfortunately a lot of companies need a massive amount of content to be translated all at once. Agencies can’t supply enough [translators] because of a lack of resources,” says Ms Al Hassan, who is from Jordan. “And even if you have enough resources the price will always be high.” Tarjama had a large network of freelancers who had been working for the company for a while. And pretty soon she realised that they could match this supply with the obvious demand. So she did, and the idea for Ureed – a platform which connects businesses to freelance translators – was born. “We thought of the Uber model for cars and we said okay we are going to have Ureed for words,” she says. Ureed has joined a growing industry in the UAE, where it is estimated that 100,000 licensed freelancers operate, according to experts. And business is booming. Some months Ureed records growth of 50 per cent, although on average it is around 30 per cent, Ms Al Hassan says. Other freelancing sites are also growing. “We have noticed that large companies are becoming more interested in hiring freelancers particularly across creative and digital services. The cost savings that can be achieved are too big to ignore,” says Loulou Khazen Baz, the founder of Nabbesh, the region’s first freelancing platform, which launched in 2012. Nabbesh now has almost 120,000 registered freelancers who have a wide spectrum of skills from technology and digital, to design, marketing, photography and animation, translation and writing and more. Ureed currently has 4,500 freelancers registered on the platform – all of whom have been carefully vetted to ensure their quality. Legal translators are asked to take a legal test, and ecommerce translators take an ecommerce test, and so on. Their work is rated by both Ureed and previous clients. And that is no surprise, says Helen McGuire, co-founder and managing director of Hopscotch, a recruitment company for skilled women. “Flexibility is really the key message here,” she says. “Many of our clients work with us as it’s very hard to find talent that can and do work on a freelance basis. And many women are perfectly placed to do just that, but [they are] often not found on traditional networks if they’ve taken a break.” Freelancing offers women the opportunity to work remotely, which is ideal if you have young children and cannot be in the office at times, or have to plan around nursery or school holidays, she says. Leann Mango, 20, who was born in the US but raised in Jordan, is a freelance translator registered with Ureed. She is not a mother, but being a freelancer does give her the flexibility she needs to work while she is studying translation, English, Arabic and German at college in Jordan. “My teacher referred me to one of the employers at Ureed and they decided to take me in,” says Ms Mango. “At first they told me to write a blog and they wanted to see if I could take up the responsibility of being a freelancer. Thankfully I passed the test. Now I’m working as a freelancer.” She says she would not rule out a full-time position after she graduates, if she found the right opportunity, but her goal for now is to remain a freelancer because of the flexibility it offers. Translation, English literature and content all appeal to women, which may explain why Ureed has so many female freelancers, says Ms Al Hassan. Because not all freelance platforms have had the same success. Ms Baz says that it has always surprised her how few female freelancers are listed on Nabbesh. Around 35 per cent of the platform’s freelancers are women. “This number has been very consistent across the years,” she says. “It is always surprising that the number is not bigger considering that women would benefit tremendously from the gig economy. But I suppose it is a reflection of the current status of the workforce where men outnumber women and women’s participation rates in this region are among the lowest in the world.” But experts say that could change if women are offered more flexible ways of working. Research by Hopscotch found that 98 per cent of women would go back to work tomorrow, if they were offered more flexible working hours, says Ms McGuire. “And freelancing is really the absolute epitome of that kind of flexibility, allowing you to pick and choose where, when and how you work,” she adds. *The National

Read Comments

Winning national robot competition, Jordanian young people eying Egypt for pan-Arab championship

[3/13/2018 10:00:41 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Jordanian team "RoboIbdaa" will take part in the 11th Arab Robotics Championship (ARC) in Egypt after winning the first place at the robot performance track of the 13th National Robotics Competition on Sunday. The 11th ARC will be held in Egypt's South Sinai governorate of Sharm El Sheikh from March 23 to 26. The competition, open to all Arab states, was launched in 2008 with the aim of arousing participants' interest in technologies, maths, science and engineering, according to the ARC website. The RoboIbdaa or "RoboCreativity" team, consisting of four girls and three boys aged between 15 and 16 years old, has been working on their project for the past six months with the help of three trainers. Held under the theme of "Hydrodynamics", this year's ARC requires participants to solve a real-world problem through a hydrodynamic project, as well as to build, test, and programme an autonomous robot to solve a set of missions in the Robot Game, according to the website. "The team members come from rural areas to receive their training in the capital as most of them are students from less fortunate schools, where resources are very limited," Maha Darwish, president of the Ibdaa Foundation, said. The RoboIbdaa members previously won the first place at the 2014's First Lego League (FLL) in the US and received four trophies in the 2015's FLL season. The team members are changed every year since 2014, when the Ibdaa Foundation first established Ammar Malhas Technology Centre, a robotics training centre for disadvantaged school students. "I am not funding the centre with money, but with hope," Ammar Malhas, the businessman who funds the centre, told The Jordan Times in an interview "Instead of leaving these young people at risk of perversity, they will utilise their time and potential in something useful," he said, adding that "the main purpose of the centre is to prepare a generation of thinkers and problem solvers, not only to teach them how to design and program robots". The victories RoboIbdaa has achieved so far are "a real worthwhile investment", according to Malhas. "These young people are the future of Jordan and, with such initiatives, we are building our country, which is not only the land, but also the people and their minds," the businessman stressed. The previous team members, who are currently university students and graduates, have become trainers at the centre, assisting this year's team and providing free-of-charge training sessions to a large number of other disadvantaged students. "Sharing the knowledge we gained is the least we can offer in return. All students deserve to have the opportunity to learn about this newly emerging industry: robotics," said Mohammad Abu Fares, one of the trainers. "There is really nothing called 'unlucky'. Opportunities are everywhere, waiting for someone to hunt them and use them," Rahaf Zorba, one of the team members, said. "We were completely ignorant about the subject matter at first but, with hard work and dedication, we were able to win, not only the first place, but also a profound knowledge and an unforgettable experience," Nourhan Gharabli, another member, said. *RJ

Read Comments

Queen Rania Visits "I Learn" Initiative in Jerash

[2/20/2018 10:37:51 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah visited the nonprofit initiative, ‘I Learn Jo: Space for Knowledge’ on Tuesday at the Jerash Visitor Center. "I Learn" founder, Saddam Sayyaleh, and the initiative’s team members briefed the Queen on the establishment of I Learn, its achievements, and future plans. Established in 2014, I Learn employs a community-based approach to empower youth and children in various Jordanian communities, and is currently operational in Jerash, Zarqa, Balqa, and Amman. Through informal education, and supported by youth volunteers and global partnerships, the initiative aims to establish safe learning spaces for Jordanian children that encourage innovation, intellectual growth, and critical thinking. Addressing Sayyaleh and his team, Her Majesty expressed pride in their accomplishments, and told them that innovative solutions stem from community-based efforts. During the visit, Queen Rania also stopped by a number of I Learn sessions that were taking place, including an art class, a little paramedic workshop, and a programming class. The initiative works on connecting youth to educators in order to identify current and potential student dropouts, and allow them to jointly create remedial and prevention programs to deal with these cases. Additionally, it aims to invest in youth volunteers and devise programs that build their skills and prepare them for the job market. I Learn focuses on three main programs: youth support, child development, and community engagement. Youth support relies on consultations with local youth to help identify their needs and develop customized programs to realize those needs. Child development uses art, recreational activities, and academic support to develop children’s self-esteem and creative capabilities. Lastly, community engagement aims to work with the community to create safe and attractive learning spaces for children and youth. Currently, I Learn has a partnership with Edvise ME, a Jordanian advisory consulting firm, and is receiving support from the Swiss-based foundation, Drosos. The nonprofit has reached over 10,000 Jordanians, including 2,200 children, 3,700 youth, and 5,100 community members. Sayyaleh began pursuing social work upon travelling to India and volunteering at a non-profit organization there. His experiences inspired him to established I Learn in order to empower Jordanian children. Sayyaleh is also an alumni of the Swedish Institute and a member of UNESO Youth.

Read Comments

Queen Rania meets with QRTA teacher trainees at an Amman school

[2/12/2018 3:05:22 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah visited Al Ashrafieh Secondary School for Girls in Amman on Monday, where she met with teachers and principals taking part in two educator network programs implemented by the Queen Rania Teachers Academy (QRTA). Under QRTA’s Schools Network Program, schools are grouped together into four subject-specific networks, putting Arabic, English, mathematics, and science teachers in touch with their peers across Jordan to encourage their ‎professional development and provide opportunities for collaboration across ‎schools. QRTA also offers an Instructional Leadership Network Program for the nation’s principals, assistant principals, and supervisors. Accompanied by the school’s principal, Zhour Al Mufleh, and QRTA CEO, Haif Banyan, Her Majesty spoke with several teachers taking part in the Schools Network Program, including a science teacher who graduated last year from QRTA’s Teacher Education Professional Diploma (TEPD) program. The Queen was also briefed on the progress of the ongoing Schools Network Research Study, which aims to assess the impact of QRTA’s network programs on education in schools around the country. The study, which was launched in 2016, will determine the extent to which participation in the program’s networks enhances the performance of educators and their students. Funded by the Government of Canada, the study is being conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Education, National Center for Human Resource Development, and the University of Toronto – Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. The study will continue until December 2018, with initial findings set for release in June 2019. Attended by 440 girls between grades seven and 12, Al Ashrafieh Secondary School for Girls is one of 19 schools taking part in the Schools Network Research Study. Participants in the study include 300 teachers, 60 principals, assistant principals, and supervisors, as well as a sample of students from across Amman, Irbid, and Karak.

Read Comments

Lower House approves Universities law

[2/6/2018 7:05:08 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Lower House of Parliament approved during its session on Tuesday, the 2018 Jordanian Universities Law. During the session, which was chaired by House Speaker Atef Tarawneh and attended by Acting Prime Minister Mamdouh Abbadi, the House also started debating articles of the Natural Resources Law before House Speaker First Deputy Khamis Attiyeh, who chaired part of the session, decided to adjourn the session until Sunday. The 2018 Universities Law, which cancels the 2009 Universities Law applies to universities that were established before its provisions entered into force. It also applies to non-Jordanian institutions or their branches within the Kingdom, whatever the legal status of these institutions is.

Read Comments

8,500 Syrians Still Held in Jordanian No-Go Camp

[1/30/2018 11:26:43 AM]

AMMONNEWS - About 8,500 Syrians are still locked up behind barbed wire in a no-go section of Jordan's second-largest refugee camp — despite initial assurances in 2016 that the arrangement is temporary, a coalition of aid groups said. The Jordan INGO Forum, an alliance of 60 non-governmental groups, asked Jordan to expedite security screenings, saying that at the current pace it would take until October 2020 to empty out Azraq camp's fenced-in "Village 5." The forum also called on Jordan to lift other restrictions on Syrian refugees, including on movement from camps to Jordanian towns. It said close to half of Azraq's residents had been forcibly transferred there from elsewhere in Jordan, including refugees caught in police checks without proper papers. Forum coordinator Yannick Martin said Tuesday that the international community must commend Jordan for its efforts in hosting refugees, but that "a frank dialogue needs to take place on continuous restrictions of movement that Syrian refugees face." Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed Momani said security vetting is up to the task and that refugee camps were set up to allow international aid agencies to provide the best possible services. About 20 percent of Jordan's 665,000 registered Syrian refugees live in three camps, the rest in host communities. Jordan says the actual number of Syrians in the kingdom is 1.3 million. Jordan has said its policies are dictated by security concerns, including external and internal dangers posed by militants, mainly Islamic State extremists based in neighboring Syria and Iraq. The kingdom sealed its border with Syria in June 2016, after a deadly cross-border attack by IS, leaving tens of thousands of Syrians stranded in a remote desert area on Jordan's doorstep. Jordan also argues that it shoulders a disproportionately heavy refugee burden, and that the international aid it receives routinely falls short of pledges made by donors. "Jordan has taken more refugees than the whole continent of Europe," Momani said. "So it's really unjustified and unacceptable for anyone to question or criticize the way Jordan is dealing with the refugees which we think is second to none in comparison to all countries in the world." Visiting European leaders have gone out of their way to praise Jordan's contribution, especially since a 2016 policy shift toward trying to encourage refugees to remain in the region and to slow their influx to Europe. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier echoed such views after a visit to Azraq on Monday. Asked by The Associated Press about Village 5 and Syrians stranded in harsh conditions on the border, Steinmeier said that "much can be improved, much needs to be done through international aid, but I believe it's not justified to come with big complaints against Jordan." "Of course, we have spoken repeatedly in the past with Jordan about the need to provide aid to those on the (border) berm, but I believe we should show restraint with complaints about countries like Jordan, which truly carry the biggest burden of the refugee influx from Syria," said Steinmeier, whose country is the second largest donor to Jordan, after the United States. In Azraq, Steinmeier toured a near-empty supermarket just a few hundred meters from Village 5. Jordanian security agents, many in civilian clothes, kept away refugees except for a few who had been selected for media interviews. One of the chosen, a 32-year-old woman, said she appreciates the safety of Azraq and the chance to send her three children to U.N. schools, after moving around Syria for four years to escape the fighting. "We're fine here," said the woman only gave her first name, Radhiya, fearing for the safety of relatives who remain in Syria. On the sidelines, out of earshot of the security agents, a 57-year-old woman said she has been unable to contact relatives in Village 5. "We don't know what the situation is there," said the woman who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions. Other Azraq residents said life improved after the camp was hooked up to electricity from a solar power plant last year. Satellite dishes have popped up on the roofs of some pre-fab trailers, and many shelters now have refrigerators and TVs. About 8,000 of Azraq's 36,000 residents have work permits, enabling them to leave the camp, according to the report by the aid groups, published last week. Others must apply special permits that allow them to get out for a few days. Village 5, ringed by barbed wire, was set up in early 2016, as part of a compromise under which Jordan agreed to allow entry to more than 21,000 stranded Syrians from the border area. They were to be held separately in Azraq for a while and undergo stringent security checks before joining the general camp population. The temporary arrangement was meant to address Jordan's concerns that IS militants are trying to enter Jordan posing as refugees. "A year-and-a-half later, the screening process has proven long, tedious, opaque and irregular," the report by the aid groups said. It said residents of Village 5 — 8,580 at the end of December — were "increasingly desperate, unsure of what lies ahead." Aid officials said Tuesday that 979 Syrians had been moved to Village 5 from other areas of Jordan in 2017, updating the figure of 797 in the report. The report said forcible transfers raise "increasing concerns of the area's use as a detention facility." *AP

Read Comments

Queen Rania commends youth volunteers in meeting with Nashmi Center for Youth Empowerment

[1/15/2018 3:27:43 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah expressed her gratitude toward all Jordanian volunteers for "uplifting the nation with their passion," during a meeting on Monday with members of the Nashmi Center for Youth Empowerment. Speaking at a gathering with Nashmi members at Beit Shams in Jabal Amman, the Queen said she is always eager to meet with volunteers for their crucial role and important efforts to advance their communities. She spoke with the youth volunteers about the importance of positivity and constructive criticism, which should be followed by "reform, hard work, and collaboration." Her Majesty was received at Beit Shams by Nashmi Founder, Ala’ Al Bashiti, and Shams Founder, Maha Dahmash Malhas. Following an overview from Al Bashiti on the organization’s work, the Queen joined a number of the center’s youth volunteers for a discussion on volunteerism in Jordan. Her Majesty explained how social media has changed the face of volunteerism, providing it with new avenues that were nonexistent ten years ago. Commending the Nashmi Center for creating sustainable, data-driven initiatives, Queen Rania highlighted the importance of gathering statistics in developing effective initiatives that meet the public’s needs. Launched in 2016, the Nashmi Center for Youth Empowerment is a non-profit organization that promotes social work and volunteering across the country. Aiming to position volunteerism as a way of life and a moral obligation among Jordan’s youth, Nashmi encompasses several volunteering campaigns addressing social issues. Among the 21 initiatives it supports, Nashmi lobbies against the use of firearms at public events, raises awareness to protect youth from cybercrime, performs repairs and maintenance at primary schools, and works to assimilate people with disabilities into society. According to Al Bashiti, Nashmi was built upon the values of dialogue, honest work, and productivity. At the meeting, he shared the organization’s strategy for the current year, which aims to launch initiatives that counter extremist ideology, encourage school students to perform community service, and shed light on the importance of maintaining parks and other public spaces.

Read Comments