The “Field Guide to Jordan” is a fantastically comprehensive book that uses beautiful photographs and concise descriptions to introduce locals and visitors to the kingdom’s natural wonders. The guide is the end-product of four years of dedicated research and photography by author Jarir Maani and his band of contributors (composed mainly of friends and family).
This pictorial encyclopedia of Jordan’s wildlife habitats, parks and reserves, canyons, and deserts is an essential companion for kingdom sightseeing, its compact size makes it perfect for tucking into a backpack or pocket.
I’d picked up a dog-eared copy from a Dublin charity shop right before moving to Amman. The little guidebook is packed with useful information about Jordan’s animals and plants, archaeological treasures, and fascinating geological history.
Two years later, I decided to treat myself to a new copy, and in the process, got to “meet” the author via the magic of email. Here’s my exchange with writer Jarir Maani.
Green Prophet: Who came up with the idea for the Guide?
The book is a collaborative effort between myself and good number of contributors. Photographs and illustrations are by Mohd Maani, Habeeb Maani, Jarir Maani, Anees Maani, Karma Hijawi, Sulafa Maani, Gudrun Kroner, Aram Khlief, Nafila Maani, Majd Hadad, Leen Maani, and others.
GP: What was your motivation?
The book’s three main objectives are to showcase Jordan’s little known treasures; raise awareness and appreciation for wildlife; and highlight the human impact and urgency of environmental issues.
GP: There’s a “donate” tab on your website that seems a brilliant way to get the Guide into the hands of school children. How successful has that effort been?
Unfortunately, this feature hasn’t been successful, and most of the donated books were actually purchased by the people that worked on the book. Although government agencies and private companies in Jordan supported creation of the guide, efforts to raise funds to donate additional books to needy children didn’t produce any meaningful result.
GP: Anything particular that you’d like broadcast about the Guide and your work?
We would like to develop similar projects for the entire Arab world, but the lack of financial backing and sustained support for educational and environmental projects limits what we can do. Having said that, we’re still hopeful and poised to tackle similar projects whenever conditions improve.
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The book, which is in its second edition (with over 45 pages of new content), is available in both Arabic and English and is sold in most Jordan bookshops and also online. There is also a Facebook page with the same name that reinforces the author’s environmental message.
Tony Howard & Di Taylor, authors of Treks & Climbs in Wadi Rum and Jordan, said the guide is, “Detailed and thorough with good photos, nice-to-see geology and archaeology included as well as environment, the latter being particularly important – Jordan needs more people who care.”
For more information on the “Field Guide to Jordan”, visit the website (link here).
All images courtesy of Jarir Maani