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Title: Ma'an  
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Subject: Ma'an Governorate, Jordan, Jordanian Southern Command, Abdullah II of Jordan, Aqaba Railway Corporation
Collection: Populated Places in the Ma'an Governorate
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


مدينة معان
A pre-1920 photograph of the train station in Ma'an. The Hejaz Railway is still operational today.
A pre-1920 photograph of the train station in Ma'an. The Hejaz Railway is still operational today.
Nickname(s): Capital of the Great Arab Revolt
Ma'an is located in Jordan
Location in Jordan
Country Jordan
Governorate Ma'an Governorate
Municipality established 1898
 • Type Municipality
 • Mayor Khalid Alshummary
 • City 2.9 sq mi (7.5 km2)
 • Metro 40 sq mi (100 km2)
Population (2007)
 • City 50,350
Time zone GMT +2
 • Summer (DST) +3 (UTC)
Area code(s) +(962)3

Ma'an (Arabic: معان‎) is a city in southern Jordan, 218 kilometres (135 mi) southwest of the capital Amman. It serves as the capital of the Ma'an Governorate. Its population approximately 50,000. Civilizations with the name of Ma'an have existed at least since the Nabatean period—the modern city is just northwest of the ancient town. The city is an important transport hub situated on the ancient King's Highway and also on the modern Desert Highway.


  • History 1
    • Islamic era 1.1
    • Ottoman rule 1.2
    • Modern era 1.3
  • Climate 2
  • Demographics 3
  • Education 4
  • Economy 5
  • Notable people 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9


Ma'an was founded by the Minaeans (known as "Ma'in" in Arabic), an ancient Arab people based in Yemen, between the 2nd and 4th-century BCE.[1] The site was located on a major trade route and was settled by Minaean traders and merchants.[2] Local tradition has it that the city was named after "Ma'an", the son of Lot.[3]

During the Byzantine era in Syria, Ma'an was part of the territory of the Arab Christian tribe of Banu Judham who served as vassals for the Byzantines in Transjordan.[3] In the early 7th-century, the Christian governor of Ma'an, Farwa ibn Amr al-Judhami, converted to Islam and sent Muhammad a wide array of presents including a white mule and gold. When the Byzantine authorities learned of his conversion he was ordered to repent his new religion, but refused.[4] Consequently, the Byzantine emperor ordered his imprisonment and subsequent execution by crucifixion.[3] In retaliation the Muslim state in Medina, sent an army led by Usama ibn Zayd to conquer Ma'an.

Islamic era

When the


External links

  • Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (2007), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing,  
  • Massad, Joseph Andoni (2001), Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan, Columbia University Press,  
  • Museum With No Frontiers (2000), The Umayyads: the rise of Islamic art, AIRP,  
  • Rogan, Eugene L.; Tell, Tariq (1994), Village, steppe and state: the social origins of modern Jordan, British Academic Press,  
  • Rogan, Eugene L. (2002), Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire: Transjordan, 1850-1921, Cambridge University Press,  
  • le Strange, Guy (1890), Palestine Under the Moslems: A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500, Committee of the  


  1. ^ a b c Museum With No Frontiers, p.203.
  2. ^ Bromiley, p.362.
  3. ^ a b c d Gibb, p.897.
  4. ^ UNESCO, p.184.
  5. ^ le Strange, p.508.
  6. ^ a b le Strange, p.509.
  7. ^ Rogan and Tell, p.17.
  8. ^ a b Rogan, p.33.
  9. ^ Shoup, p.16.
  10. ^ Rogan and Tell, p.26.
  11. ^ a b Rogan, p.34.
  12. ^ a b c Rogan, p.35.
  13. ^ a b c Rogan and Tell, pp.41-42.
  14. ^ Rogan, p.190.
  15. ^ Rogan and Tell, p.43.
  16. ^ Rogan, p.154.
  17. ^ Massad, p.103.
  18. ^ Massad, p.89.
  19. ^ Massad, p.56.
  20. ^ Massad, p.186.
  21. ^ Massad, pp.273-274.
  22. ^ "Jihad and vandalism: Save our stones".  
  23. ^ "Climatological Information for Ma'an, Jordan". Hong Kong Observatory. 
  24. ^ Population (by Sex), Number of Households, Housing Units and Buildings by Locality. General Census of Population and Housing of Jordan 1994. Department of Statistics of Jordan. 1994-10-12. Retrieved on 2012-02-24.
  25. ^ "Jordan: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population". Worldgazetteer. Archived from the original on 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  26. ^ Rogan, p.37.


Notable people

A new economic zone was established to encourage new industries to operate in the Ma'an Special Economic Zone.


Al-Hussein Bin Talal University is the only university in Ma'an, it offers a range of 38 undergraduate degrees, these being across the disciplines of engineering, arts, science, business administration, archaeology, education and nursing. It also offers postgraduate diplomas in education and in higher administration.


The city had a population of 22,989 in the 1994 census. The gender makeup was 54.3% male 45.7% female. There were 4,871 housing units and 3,862 households.[24] According to Ma'an Municipality, Ma'an's population was estimated as being about 50,000 as of 2007.[25] The majority of the city's inhabitants are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school.[26]

In 1845 Ma'an al-Hijaziyya had a population of 200 households and Ma'an al-Shamiyya 20 families.[12] Karl Baedeker estimated its population to be around 3,000 in 1912 and the same number was recorded in Guide Bleu's survey in 1932. By 1956 Ma'an's population reached 4,500 and in 1973 it was 9,500.[3]


Climate data for Ma'an, Jordan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 7.5
Average low °C (°F) 1.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 7.1
Average precipitation days 1.9 1.4 1.7 0.8 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.6 0.7 1.8 9.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 229.4 228.8 263.5 270.0 322.4 369.0 384.4 365.8 318.0 291.4 246.0 223.2 3,511.9
Source: Hong Kong Observatory,[23]

Ma'an has an arid climate with hot summers and mild to cold winters with most rainfall falling during the winter.


Ma'an was the site of clashes between the Jordanian army and Islamist groups in 2002 after the death of a US diplomat. The city has been described as a "hotbed of IS support."[22]

In 1998 a large demonstration in Ma'an protesting the threat of an American attack against Iraq turned into a miniature uprising. The flags of Saudi Arabia were flown by some protesters. Jordanian Special Forces and police attempted to quell the protests, resulting in the death of a demonstrator and the injury of 25 people, including police officers. King Hussein had the Jordanian Army deployed and Ma'an was placed under curfew and had its phone lines cut. Hussein arrived in the city afterward to meet with army units and local tribal leaders in order to placate the city. He stated the "riots" were an insult to the country, that foreign "infiltrators" provoked the protests and stressed Ma'an's importance in Jordanian history, referring to the city as "Ma'an the origin" and "Ma'an the history."[21]

The Hashemite emir Abdullah I arrived in Ma'an in 1920 with several hundred fighters in his attempt to restore the Sharifian throne in Damascus following its overthrow by France.[17] He addressed the French colonization of Syria by stating to Ma'an's residents "The colonialist has come to you to rob you of the three graces: faith, freedom and masculinity."[18] Following the British capture of the area during World War I, the British Mandate of Palestine was established in 1922 and included Transjordan which was semi-autonomous from British administration in Palestine. Ma'an was annexed to the Transjordanian state in 1925.[19] The British Army had an armored car regiment based in the city.[20]

Modern era

Between 1897 and 1899, two primary schools for boys and a secondary school were founded by the Ottomans in Ma'an.[16] In 1902 the Ma'an train station connected the city to Damascus and Medina.

Following the British occupation of Egypt, Ottoman politicians began serious initiatives to form a new vilayet out of Damascus Vilayet Damascus that would combine the districts of Ma'an, al-Balqa and Jerusalem to serve as a buffer against a potential British invasion of Syria. This effort failed, although a new proposal in 1886 would see Ma'an serve as the capital of a district including the kazas of al-Karak and Tafilah and the nahiyas (subdistricts smaller than kazas) of Amman, Bani Hamida and Wadi Musa.[13] Governor Osman Nuri Pasha's goal in this respect was to establish a government center in southern Transjordan to "avoid the alienation of the people."[14] Sultan Abdulhamid II approved the plan in 1892. However, the establishment of the new sanjak was delayed and eventually scrapped after the leading sheikh of al-Karak offered the Ottoman authorities his full services.[13] Al-Karak was deemed more suitable as district capital due to its larger population, proximity to Palestine and the established relationships between the Majali notables of the city and the authorities in Damascus and Istanbul.[15]

During the late 19th century, there were numerous attempts by the Ottoman authorities to elevate Ma'an's political status at over al-Karak, although most attempts failed or were short-lived. In 1868 the Ottoman governor of Syria, Rashid Pasha, succeeded in designating Ma'an as its own kaza ("subdistrict") of the al-Balqa sanjak (district), part of Damascus Vilayet. Four years later, Governor Abdulletif Subhi Pasha proposed that Ma'an become a sanjak that would include al-Karak, as-Salt and al-Jawf. This proposal was popular with much of the Ottoman government in Istanbul, but was ultimately rejected after strong opposition from Midhat Pasha, a leading Tanzimat reformer, who argued the administrative expenses of having Ma'an as district capital would not be feasible.[13]

Ma'an was divided into two distinct quarters since the Umayyad period:[1] Ma'an al-Shamiyya and Ma'an al-Hijaziyya. The latter served as the main town, while the former was a small neighborhood inhabited by Syrians from the north.[8] The city continued to play the same role it did since Islamic rule as a major town on the 'Anizzah and the Huwaytat.[12]

Because of its geographic isolation from the rest of Syria and a low frequency of travelers (with the exception of Mecca-bound pilgrims), the history of Ma'an was the least well-documented of the Transjordanian districts of Ottoman Syria—at least until direct rule was attempted in the late 19th century.[8] The Ottomans annexed Transjordan in 1517 and in 1559, during the tenure of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottomans built a fort in Ma'an to safeguard the pilgrimage route.[9] The governor of Damascus put down a revolt by Ma'an and other cities in south Damascus Eyalet in 1656, although Ottoman troops were later routed as a result of a revolt by the Banu Tamim tribe. Since then, the Ottomans had struggled to maintain full control of the area.[10]

Map of Ottoman Syria, showing Sanjak of Ma'an

Ottoman rule

When Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi visited in the early 13th-century, during Ayyubid rule, Ma'an was a mostly ruined town in the Balqa district of Bilad al-Sham (Islamic province of Syria.) The hajj pilgrimage route to Mecca still passed through the town which also contained a resting station.[6] By the end of the 13th-century Syria's new rulers, the Bahri Mamluks, designated Ma'an and its surroundings as one of four districts of the al-Karak province.[7] According to al-Dimashqi, during that time period, it grew to become a "small city,", with a khan ("caravanserai") that included a "market for provisions" and a hostel. Muslim traveler Ibn Batutah noted Ma'an was "the last place in Syria" before reaching Aqaba as-Sawan in the Hejaz.[6]


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