HUMANITY CAN WAIT
Words: Omar Aga
Ruby Al Baroudi is one of the many immigrants who moved to Jordan following the 2003-war in Iraq, but her love story with art and antiques started long ago in Baghdad. Al Baroudi has been working as an arts dealer and consultant ever since her twenties. Through her family and the family of her husband, she learnt all about silver and carpet antiques as well as art and paintings. She started her own business in the 1980s, she opened an antique store in one of most prestigious areas in Baghdad and slowly gained experience regarding the market and how to survive the brutal world of business, and built herself a reputation among the art-collecting upper middle class families who became her regular clients, both buying from her and trusting her to sell for them.
The unfortunate series of events in Iraq since 1980 resulted in a number of immigration waves into Jordan. Naturally the Iraqi immigrants were mostly of the educated upper middle class. They could afford to start a new life in a new country.Many of those Iraqis were able to start businesses, staffing universities, hospitals and colleges. After the war broke in Iraq, the antique business, like all businesses, initially suffered.
The harshness of a post-war economy had spared none, and many families were later forced to sell their antiquities to weather the storm. Scores of treasures were also coming onto the scene from the looted presidential palaces. Suddenly, there were a lot of goods and a potential market to sell and trade. In 2004, Ruby and her family moved to Jordan. She managed to ship most of her merchandise and opened an office. Naturally, she faced difficulties operating and expanding her business in a different country.
As a result, she started to slowly venture out and try and make a name for herself in Jordan as an art dealer. She worked with architects to decorate the houses they designed and sold antiques to Iraqi families who moved from Iraq. They were looking to replace what they had lost during the war, and as they befriended local families, those families in turn started to get to know Ruby Al Baroudi.
There was an initial challenge in understanding her new clients. She felt through her work the difference of mentality between the Iraqi and Jordanian cultures. There was, she felt, an inclination among her new clients towards guaranteeing quality via pursuing brand names, rather than having a trained eye for spotting valuables. She spent a good amount of time socially working, consulting and training, and to her pleasure she found her experienced advice to be accepted and welcomed in the society. Mrs. Baroudi believes that social transitions are never smoothly accomplished, especially if they occur between unparallel cultures.
The Jordanian cultural society is a relatively new one compared to its surrounding countries, and its artistic movement is in its early stages of evolutionary-development, there are still several phases that it has to go through to refine tastes; with time natural selection will weed out what doesn’t work, and leave us with a well functioning social model.
There is a creative revolutionary movement that resulted from the influx of other cultures and the fusion of different schools of thought on Jordanian soil. Human mobility yields great results whenever and wherever it occurs; it is always culturally enriching and economically rewarding in the long run.