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French Version

Young leaders in perspective : Ziad Akkawi

In ancient times a Shaman was looked upon as a conduit between the visible and the invisible spirit world ; in Jordan, Shaman means the place where a person is offered three choices for a night out in Amman. Established two years ago by Ziad Akkawi and his four partners, Shaman is a lounge restaurant where people can simply dine, enjoy lounge music and mingle with others contrary to the phrase ‘enjoy a fine dine and back to home before nine’.

“There weren’t many lounge restaurants in the area, except for about two. I returned from Canada after studying hotel management and marketing. I worked at Whispers for a while then it was time to move.”

Akkawi says that he created, at Shaman, a restaurant with three rooms, each “with a different atmosphere”: A white room known as the Moroccan area; a red room for fine dining; and a blue area for the lounge, where every Thursday the clientele are offered live DJ music. “

I started as a general manger for Whispers in a time when the term lounge restaurant did not exist; chat and mingle with others was missing.”

Akkawi’s decision, to create his own lounge back then led to the opening of other places in Amman hence diversifying the market and increasing the competition. “Competition is good as it brings in new ideas; people start to come up with creative ventures to attract customers. It is even far better for the customers in terms of price and quality,” explained Akkawi, who studied hotel management at La Salle college in Montréal, Canada and worked at the Marriot’s vacation resorts in Orlando, US. Before his return to Jordan Akkawi worked in the textile advertising business in Canada, a career he pursued in Jordan before shifting his efforts to the restaurant business. “

Lucky me, I saved a bit and I had my friends, my partners who helped me establish the place,” said Akkawi, whose ambitions of expanding Shaman is not limited to Jordan, but extends to future ventures in Dubai and Lebanon. The market nevertheless wasn’t as Akkawi had hoped for when he first established the place, “I had higher expectations, but competition makes for selective customers. For pasta it’s a pasta restaurant; sushi, then sushi place. There are more alternatives now,” added Akkawi. Akkawi’s other ventures include acting operation manager and PR front man at a newly established club in Abdoun called Prana, where the focus is more on music and DJs than on food. Upon entering Shaman one cannot help but notice the black and white photos hanging on the walls and appreciate the ambience of the place. It reflects Akkawi’s taste and the design is by Abeer Tabbara. “

We have a large menu and a capacity of 400-500,” announced Akkawi and added, “We play at Shaman chill out lounge music during the early hours. Later on, the beat changes to R&B, dance and international music.”

At Shaman a person is offered a variety of international food amid an aura of peace, world music and as Akkawi wrote at the back of his menu’s booklet nourishing one’s soul with all of the above. “

What I really want is to be involved in tourism and the hotel industry, expand the market and attract investors. Everybody is coming to Jordan. Businesses from Lebanon and elsewhere are opening up here, the eye is on Jordan’s market,” concluded Akkawi.

Mike Derderian
The Star

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