For my Jordan experience (as I fondly now refer to it as) reaffirmed what I have always felt. That there are two types of people in this world: those who make history, and those who are part of making history. Similarly in the world of football, there are two types of people: Those who love the game, and those who use it to change lives.
Freedom, right and wrong, honour and shame are not universal concepts. They mean different things to different people and their bases of reference are not the same across all cultures. Do not fall into the trap of assuming that women who do not drive or women who wear the veil are somehow oppressed and will 'see the light' once they learn more about Western gender equality.
Sandwiched between Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Syria things could be so different. Instead of the history of turmoil that each of its neighbors has endured, Jordan has managed to remain peaceful, moderate and welcoming. Two thirds of the population are not native Jordanian - they have moved, migrated or sought asylum from one of the surrounding countries. Imagine that.
We woke up early for the two hour drive from the city, into the midst of the desert, and there it was... Barbed wire, security and dust; we had our passports and equipment thoroughly checked before entering. As we drove through the camp the vastness of it became clear, sand-coloured shelters in every direction, as far as the eye could see; the homes of 85,000 Syrian refugees.
Here we are watching rich countries debating yet again whether Syrian refugees should be allowed in or not, whether they pose a security threat or are linked to terrorist groups. At Oxfam, we've been calling for the resettlement of 10 per cent of the most vulnerable five million registered Syrian refugees...
Cameron's new campaign contains no concrete plans for curtailing the above, no plans for injecting life into the economies of these communities once IS has been eradicated and no plans for bringing an end to a civil war which has displaced 9.5 million people. Thus, as seen in Ma'an, a cycle of fight or flight will continue in the absence of any genuine offering of enduring stability for the Syrian people.
Since 2011, when the Syrian crisis begun, gradually developing into a civil war (nurtured by internal as well as external forces) the number of dead is estimated around 220,000. It is important to clarify that there is no way to ascertain that number. The UN ceased publishing their own estimates by 2014 as there was no way to verify the actual numbers.
Each day, new lives are arriving here in the substitute maternity unit in Za'atari, while hundreds more are being killed every day eight miles away in Syria. We alone can't give the children of Syria what they need the most - ceasefire and peace - but we can protect their lives, their bodies and their minds from further harm and help them survive yet another bitter winter here in the Jordanian desert.
All of the people we met are living in a different country because the world has not yet been able to bring this civil war to an end. They did not talk about UN Security Council Resolutions or envoys but what they are looking for more than anything else is for the international community to come together to agree a peace plan for Syria. That would, after all, be the best kind of aid that we could ultimately give them. It is the world's responsibility now to make this happen so that the anxious Mum we met and her four children can pick up their things and go home to where their hearts lie.
Today, some powers and principalities are trying to lure the MENA genie back into its bottle - with brutal force, lavish financial inducements or political shenanigans. But this genie is cunning: it has tasted freedom outside the bottle and sees its own world with different lenses. Its instincts cannot easily be tamed back into the bottle!
After the brutal murder of its captured pilot, Jordan says it intends to step up its air strikes against IS targets and to defeat "this terrorist organisation [that] is not only fighting us, but also fighting Islam and its pure values." The most useful role for the UK and other foreign powers would be to assist, with logistical, training and intelligence support, the efforts of Jordanian, Iraqi and Kurdish forces to defeat IS... Not only because it is a brutal, murderous sect threatening vital UK interests by infecting British-born fighters and others with the virus of its perverted ideology but equally because it is bringing misery to tens of thousands of people in both Iraq and Syria who now live in areas controlled by the sect.