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A Royal Welcome: This Duke’s Houses Are Open To All

The duke pulling radishes from his fields. / By Sami Haven
The duke pulling radishes from his fields. / By Sami Haven
The duke overlooking his fields. / By Sami Haven
The duke overlooking his fields. / By Sami Haven
The duke in his private chapel. / By Sami Haven
The duke in his private chapel. / By Sami Haven
The duke at his residence. / By Sami Haven
The duke at his residence. / By Sami Haven
One of the duke's open houses, and the oldest house in Jordan. / By Sami Haven
One of the duke’s open houses, and the oldest house in Jordan. / By Sami Haven
The duke at his cultural residence, an open space for visitors and artists. / By Sami Haven
The duke at his cultural residence, an open space for visitors and artists. / By Sami Haven
The duke's cultural residence, a former post office. / Sami Haven
The duke’s cultural residence, a former post office. / Sami Haven
The duke's cultural residence, a former post office. / By Sami Haven
The duke’s cultural residence, a former post office. / By Sami Haven

Duke Mamdouh was given his title by the late King Hussein. With a passion for art, culture, and history, Mamdouh works ardently to preserve historical buildings and the beauty of the old city, to inspire many young talents, and to create harmony around him.

He resides in Jabal Al-Jofeh, one of Amman’s seven hills, overlooking the Roman Nympheum and the city center. His cultural residence there, a former post office, is now always open to visitors and also serves as a space for artists. He enjoys to recycling old trash and stone into unique pieces, or simply to make fun of famous commercial designers.

He owns various properties around the country that are also always at the disposal of whoever has an inspired idea about their use; when I was photographing him, this included a group of Thai women undertaking a meditation program in his home, “Um il Cundum”, or “mother of grain” in Aramaic, also the oldest house in Jordan. A dignified presence in its own right, it sits along the way to the airport, just after the new IKEA that stands in abrupt contrast with the duke’s adjoining fields of tasty turnips and other vegetables.

Harvest from the duke's turnip fields. / By Sami Haven
Harvest from the duke’s turnip fields. / By Sami Haven

 

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Sami Haven

Sami Haven was born in Amman, Jordan, in 1987. His mother is originally from Yabroud, Syria, and his father is English born in the Caribbean. He grew up in his grandmother's house in Jabal al-wehbdeh, in the heart of Amman. In 2003 Sami moved to Al-Saru, on the outskirts of Amman, where he studied graphic design at Al Ahliyya University, graduating with the highest grades of his class. In 2005 he moved to Rome, Italy, where he did his masters in Photography. Sami worked with the world's most famous photographers like Steven Klein and Oliviero Toscani, along with many others. His works have been included in the Biennale of Venice directed by Kazuyo Sejima, Paris-Photo, and also in Tokio. After working in various editions of X-FACTOR Italia - making video clips for the contestants - in theatre with Fendi, and in the high fashion industry, Sami felt there was something missing, and so he decided to go to Gaza, Palestine, because it is an example of resistance and humanity, and to try and contrast the image constructed by the Western media that serves only the powerful. Today Sami is co-funder and part of an on growing conceptual group called Jasmine. A group united through passion against fear, a smell that's to spread out from the Mediterranean like a virus, to contaminate the world with Love, and heal from indifference. All can be part, and all shall be armed: Culture, Art, Music and Sport shall be our weapons of mass construction.

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