Amman, Jordan – Abu Fadi slowly scrapes the nut-encrusted sides of the ice cream melting in front of him, as he lifts the utensil to his lips. “There’s nothing more delicious anywhere else in the world,” the 67-year-old Palestinian man says.
Abu Fadi first visited his favourite ice cream shop, Bakdash, in Damascus in 1975. But with the ongoing war in Syria, he no longer can. Fortunately for Abu Fadi and others, a Bakdash branch opened in neighbouring Jordan in May 2013, and Abu Fadi drops in every time he’s in Amman.
Bakdash is one of many Syrian brands to appear in Jordan during the war. Beloved confectioners, famous shawerma joints, and well-known juice stands have headed south, establishing themselves to the delight of locals and visitors alike.
For Jordan, a surge of Syrian investment has been a silver lining to the war in Syria. Over 600,000 Syrian refugees currently live in Jordan, which is struggling to cope with an economic crisis that pre-dated the Syrian war.
According to the Jordan Investment Board, Syrian companies invested $4.2m in Jordanin 2011. That amount skyrocketed to $161m in 2012. Over 5,000 Syrian companies are now up and running in Jordan, Jordanian economist Yusuf Mansur told Al Jazeera.
At least 15 Syrian food establishments have sprung up in the last year within just a few hundred metres along Amman’s traffic-clogged Medina Street, said a manager at Orange al-Sham, a Syrian juice shop.
The vast majority of managers and owners Al Jazeera spoke to said their businesses were thriving because of brand and name recognition. “Jordanians used to go to Syria just to have breakfast and eat ice cream and buy sweets and come back on a Friday,” Mansur said.