• Farah Madadha

Snugging With My Thoughts

Never have I ever walked into a pub in Amman & felt comfortable; in the most girlie sense you can imagine. You see, being a woman in the Middle East is not as easy as being one say in the West… and I can challenge anyone with my statement (within this subject’s context). Drinking in general is a taboo, add a woman to the mix (or any mix for that matter) and it’s a scandal- (speaking as a Jordanian Muslim woman, from a moderately conservative family). I won’t deny the fact that it’s been easier over the years & you’d probably say that Amman’s pub scene is FULL of women; TRUE… but it is not about the scene… it is about what goes on behind the scenes (will not tackle this aspect, now).

Snug is a tiny -literary hidden- restaurant/pub, which recently opened around Abdoun Circle in Amman, and I believe it can truly live up to its name; given the concept’s meaning & all the strings attached to it & to the business. As per BOTH Oxford & Cambridge English Dictionaries; snug is a comfortable, warm, and a cosy place where you feel “protected from the weather or cold”… But the whole CONCEPT & origin of a snug dates back to Ireland’s 19th century drinking history, as I like to call it.

Snug is comfortable with its various seating options despite it’s small space; with high tables & chairs, regular tables & chairs as well as bar seating area (by Shalhoub) and this table in the below photo, which I will call Snug’s Strategizing Table.



You could privately & joyfully strategize a party, wedding, engagement, business plan or even a nuclear deal on this table… Yes I just said that. My blog, not the airport’s walls.

On a more serious note, did you know that Irish Women are the essence of the snug concept because they had faced social conventions (back in the 19th Century) similar to those conventions women in the Middle East (and many where else probably) currently face; with regards to drinking in public and in general. As a matter of fact, in Irish drinking history, women weren't even allowed into bars & no respectable women was to touch a drink... but do you think anything could stand between a woman & her liquor? Or a businessman & his business opportunity?

Women made sure their households were always supplied with liquor via their sons & husbands. Businessmen/bar-owners created an attached room behind their bars where bartenders can slip-in drinks through a small window not visible to anyone else. The doors to this room, which was called a snug, were closed with locks from the inside; giving women absolute privacy. Later on, some businesswomen started and ran their own snug. When British officers, especially in uniforms, were also starting to get rejected at bars (in 19th & early 20th century Ireland), these officers also found a shelter in a snug! This exclusivity & privacy came at the cost of more expensive drinks…

(side questions: Where do high-ranking officials/people snug at these days? Do you have a home-bar?).

Back to a beautiful April spring day in 21st Century Amman, I walked extremely happy & comfortable into Snug & paid around JOD 25.00. This was a 35% discounted bill for being there during their happy hour between 12:00 – 19:00. I had: drink/s (undisclosed amount),1 Zucchini Chips (heavenly) and 1 Halloumi Quinoa Salad. The sunlight shining through Snug's windows is heartwarming and so symbolic in the context of the word's meaning, history and as I reflect on that day in general.

This is turning into a long "post" but as the headline dictates, I am snugging with my thoughts...

Here are a five reasons to head to Snug- Amman:

  1. Do some work

  2. Enjoy a drink, or a few

  3. Try their food (so far so OMG for the Zucchini Chips)

  4. Enjoy some #MeTime/ chill time

  5. Business meeting

I was there for all 5 reasons. I settled my bill prior to the business meeting for both #BusinessEthics and conflict of interest reasons; I’m Snug’s social-media-whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Speaking of business ethics, did you know that you're recommended to not have more than one drink prior to or during a business meeting?


My meeting at Snug was Dalia Naber, one of the founders & owners of Snug & Chestnut, who also happens to be one of Jordan’s most sought-after photographer, especially for high-budget weddings (like THIS) & high-end events like SOFEX and by high-end restaurants for this style of #FoodPorn. She’s also part of a Triplet, which must make life at least three times more thrilling; making Dalia my treasure of a friend. You can meet D Triplets Here.

Back to the Snug story, and why 19th century Ireland is not 21st Amman; and why this Snug concept keeps getting cooler the more you dig into how a snug has evolved & eroded with the women-liberating social movements and all the good & positive changes that have been happening since, lately and that will happen thereafter.

Women were still not publically seen at bars as EARLY as the 1970s (come on that was ONLY 48 years ago). Look at us today! Photo by Rana Haddadin with the GIC ladies, at Snug.

This is it for now. But I guess it's granted I'm starting a Snug chapter...

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