Top Ten Old Shop Signs in Amman

November 24, 2013

By Hussein Alazaat


*This post first appeared on Alazaat Views on November 21, 2013. The post also appeared on BeAmman‘s website.


Unfortunately, many of Amman’s good old shop signs have been removed and lost. Here, I share with you my selection of the best existing signs, based on my personal taste. This does not mean that number 1 is better than number 10.

10. Chinese Shoe Gallery, Downtown, Quraish St.

By unknown sign painter. The style most probably belongs to Elia Kayyal. What I liked here is the Piccadilly shoes logo on the right side!

Chinese Shoe Gallery



9. George Studio, Jabal Amman, Mutran St.

A great example of contemporary typographic treatment for both Arabic and English names. The studio owner is a very nice guy as well.
It was made by Tarkhan, a sign painter of  Iranian origin who lived and worked in Amman.

George Studio



8. Ashoury Shoes, Downtown, Basman St.

A very old sign in Basman street; note how the wooden material is very aged. The maker is unknown, but he used a nice design to lay the sign items out, especially with the shoes extruding on both sides.

Ashoury Shoes



7. Sami Barbershop, Jabal Lweibdeh, Paris Sq.

An amazing sign done by Nicola Sabanekh, a famous Ammani sign painter who was born in Jaffa and had learned a lot of sign making techniques in his work with the British mandate offices in Jordan and Palestine. In this sign, Sabanekh used a very advanced design touch: matchmaking between Arabic and English names. The strange shape of letter A is something we don’t see a lot, and the geometric slanted Arabic letters give the sign a very modernized identity that fits the cultural spirit of Lweibdeh.


Sami Barbershop

6. Bahlawan Company, Downtown, Souq El Sukkar

This is a beautiful hand-painted sign in oil colors on wooden surface. It was made by sign painter Yassin Jookhi, who was of Syrian origin. As we see here, Jookhi has used a very rare Kufic style to write the shop name. He called this style: Qudsi Kufi!




5. National Exhibition, Downtown, Reda St.

One of the oldest shop signs in Amman: you can tell from the 3-digit phone number! What is great about it is the weird English letters slanted to the left, contrary to acknowledged Latin typography basics where letters in italics should slant to the right.

National Exhibition House



4. Rafidain Bank, Downtown, King Faisal St.

Lovely old sign for this Iraqi bank in Amman. You can see the beautiful finish of the letters’ production, also the clever integration of the letter R in the window’s steel work.



3. Salon Vert, Downtown, Prince Mohamamd St.

This one is not produced as well as the others. That said, it was a brave decision to use in-lighted letters directly on the building facade.


Salon Verte


2. Ali Abu Kalam, Downtown, Souq Mango

I have loved this sign since I was a young kid. It reminds me of old shop signs in Damascus and Cairo. Particularly because of the wooden chiseled letters that we don’t see very often in Amman.

Ali Abu Kalam



1. Debbas, Downtown, Prince Mohamamd St.

I love this sign a lot; it has been a prominent landmark of Amman to me and I’ve taken many friends and guests to see it in person. The colors, the layout, the effects, the bilingualism. All of these points make this sign one the best in Amman.
Of course it was made by Elia Kayyal, the famous sign painter from Nablus. You can see his two signatures in the bottom corners. Kayyal left many great signs over Amman’s shops, but, unfortunately, most have been removed and lost except for this one and some other 3 or 4 signs.



What is required from us as an Ammani citizens:

– Do what is possible to save these beautiful signs; they are part of the city’s character and  survive as witness of Amman’s history.

– Convince the shop owners to take care of their signs by telling them how important they are.

– A retouching process should take place to maintain the signs.

– There should be some serious effort on Amman Municipality’s part to protect these art pieces.



*Featured image from Shutterstock

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