NEW YORK- Twenty-eight-year-old Ali Alhasani is an unconventional sight on the streets of Amman, Jordan. He is a street photographer. With his camera slung around his neck, Alhasani captures slivers of time in crisp photographs that he then shares with the world.
"It isn't that widely common to practice street photography here in Jordan," Alhasani said in an email. "There are photographers who take street photos but they don't usually focus on that and this is what I do. I fell in love with it because it reflects reality."
Alhasani, who is currently unemployed, said he found inspiration from street photographers from different corners of the planet. His work as a street photographer has allowed him to expose his fellow Jordanians to the world and learn firsthand how his compatriots are living. "They're not used to the camera," he said about his photo subjects, but added that "they're friendly and welcoming to the presence of a camera."
"I learned to be patient and super friendly and convincing to be able to capture the moments I want to capture," the 28-year-old added.
Despite doing what he loves, Alhasani admits that being an unemployed photographer in Jordan isn’t easy. “If you got the cash, you are happy,” Alhasani said. “If not, you are screwed big time. I’m barely able to go out [and] take pictures. Transportation alone costs a fortune, taking away other costs.”
Alhasani said that not only are there “no jobs and no money,” but prices around the country are rising and political freedoms are few and far between. “Freedom of expression is very limited,” the photographer said.
“[The] regime claims that it respects what people think of it but whenever someone chooses to speak up about something...you find a lot of problems your way. Those problems can range from threats of killing to harassment to arrest and jail time if [the] regime decided to do so.”
As if their own political struggles weren’t enough, Jordanians have had to deal with an influx of refugees from their northern neighbor Syria. As the conflict in Syria continues, thousands upon thousands of refugees are pouring into northern Jordan.
“The Syrian issue is affecting people here big time,” Alhasani said. “People got nothing else to talk about but Syrians being here and taking jobs and how they’re increasing.”
Alhasani added that while there is a small percentage of Jordanians that are against the influx of refugees, the “overall feeling is that the majority are welcoming and feeling of the suffering that Syrians are going through.”
“A lot of people here are supporting the revolution and want the downfall of the tyrant Assad,” he said, adding, “[but] also there’s a percentage who support the Syrian regime and think that this isn’t a revolution.”
The mixed feelings Jordanians are having towards the increasingly violent civil war in Syria is clearly reflected in their government. While King Abdullah was the first regional leader to call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, the outcome of the civil war could be a lose-lose situation for Jordan.
The continuous flood of refugees presents an economic challenge to the already economically-hurt nation. The extremists fractions of the Syrian opposition are also a worrying factor. According to a recent piece by Haaretz, the Jordanian government fears that Islamist feelings from certain fractions of the Syrian opposition could find their way to Jordan, setting off a revolution there as well.
However, according to Alhasani, Jordan is already finding its way to its own revolution.