August 22, 2016 / 4:41 PM / 4 years ago

Jordanians lather up as Turkish baths become more popular

In an ornately decorated steam-filled room in Amman, a group of men are getting scrubbed, washed and massaged.

They are in one of several newly established Turkish baths, which have become increasingly popular in Jordan over the past several years.

General Manager of the Umayyad Bath, which opened two months ago, said he was happy that this ancient tradition has become current again.

“Thank God, we have been popular since the first day we opened our doors. As time goes by (turkish baths) are becoming more popular in Jordan, they have moved here from Damascus. Their style emulate the Syrian and Turkish styles, and they are known as Turkish or Moroccan baths,” said Ihsan Al-Taweel.

Al-Taweel attributes this surge in interest in the baths to the influx of Syrian refugees into the country.

“(Turkish baths) have become more popular after a lot of people from Damascus re-settled here in Amman. More projects were found to meet this increased demand for the baths. We had to respond to these desires, and now these places are very popular,” he added.

The baths have also become a popular destination for grooms ahead of their wedding party. The soon to be married man is joined by family members and close fiends who celebrate by dancing and clapping before getting cleansed.

One groom who came to the Umayyad bath before his wedding, Maher Abdelhadi, said this was a unique experience which he enjoyed.

“Turkish baths are quite popular. It is a great and novel idea. We are used to celebrating the groom by having a wedding procession in his parents house, but this is a new idea, something unique. We are seeing more and more people invited to such events, and they enjoy it, great atmosphere, fun evenings, new ideas,” he said.

Turkish baths, which first emerged during the Ottoman empire, are the Islamic adaptation of the Roman baths.

The bath usually starts with a heated relaxation room, followed by a full-body scrub and wash, ending with a massage.

Many Jordanians used to travel to Damascus for their famous baths, but such trips came to an abrupt halt when the civil-war broke out in the country more than five years ago.

“I expect that more people will want to attend these baths, this is something we have lost in Syria, since the problems started there four years ago. But thank God they have now opened up here in our country,” said Hani Abdelkarim, one of the customers in the bath.

Jordan currently hosts more than 1.4 million refugees with most of them living in urban areas and around 100,000 Syrians in the camps.

More than 3.8 million people have fled Syria since 2011, when the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began.

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