The national dish of Jordan is the mansaf, prepared with jameed, a sun-dried yogurt. Grumpygourmet.com describes the mansaf as "an enormous platter layered with crêpe-like traditional "shraak" bread, mounds of glistening rice and chunks of lamb that have been cooked in a unique sauce made from reconstituted jameed and spices, sprinkled with golden pine nuts." In actuality more people use fried almonds instead of pine nuts because of the cheaper price tag. While mansaf is the national dish, most people in urban areas eat it on special occasions and not every day. Other popular dishes include Maklouba, stuffed vegetables, freekeh.
Music in Jordan is now developing with a lot of new bands and artists, who are now popular in the Middle East. Artists such as Omar Al-Abdallat, Toni Qattan, Diana Karazon and Hani Metwasi have increased the popularity of Jordanian music. The Jerash Festival is an annual music event that features popular Arab singers. Pianist and composer Zade Dirani has gained wide international popularity. There is also an increasing growth of alternative Arabic rock bands, who are dominating the scene in the Arab World, including: El Morabba3, Autostrad, JadaL, Akher Zapheer and Aziz Maraka.
Fortified towns and urban centers first emerged in the southern Levant early on in the Bronze Age (3600–1200 BC). Wadi Feynan became a regional center for copper extraction, which was exploited on a large-scale to produce bronze. Trade and movement of people in the Middle East peaked, spreading and refining civilizations. Villages in Transjordan expanded rapidly in areas with reliable water resources and agricultural land. Ancient Egyptians expanded towards the Levant and controlled both banks of the Jordan River. During the Iron Age (1200–332 BC) after the withdrawal of the Egyptians, Transjordan was home to Ammon, Edom and Moab. They spoke Semitic languages of the Canaanite group, and are considered to be tribal kingdoms rather than states. Ammon was located in the Amman plateau; Moab in the highlands east of the Dead Sea; and Edom in the area around Wadi Araba down south.
Jordan's total foreign debt in 2011 was $19 billion, representing 60% of its GDP. In 2016, the debt reached $35.1 billion representing 93% of its GDP. This substantial increase is attributed to effects of regional instability causing: decrease in tourist activity; decreased foreign investments; increased military expenditure; attacks on Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; expenses from hosting Syrian refugees and accumulated interests from loans. According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees have cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year, amounting to 6% of the GDP and 25% of the government's annual revenue. Foreign aid covers only a small part of these costs, 63% of the total costs are covered by Jordan. An austerity programme was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan's debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021. The programme succeeded in preventing the debt from rising above 95% in 2018.
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