Local traditions and culture in Jordan

  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd
  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd
  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd

Most Viewed Local Customs in Jordan

  • leics's Profile Photo

    Roadside stalls and sights

    by leics Updated Jan 11, 2015

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    Wherever you drive in Jordan ....even along the fast, busy Desert Highway....you'll see trucks dotted along at the side of the road with produce laid out for sale: bananas, oranges, tomatoes, cauliflowers, whatever.

    On the Desert Highway you'll probably also see cheap fuel on sale, smuggled in from Saudi Arabia.

    There are a myriad of refreshment stops to serve the needs of drivers and passengers, some no more than a small shed with an awning, many more basic one-room breezeblock constructions. Some on the busiest roads are larger 'service stations', with fuel and a shop (you can always buy crisps/chips!), often toilets, maybe a restaurant and certainly tea and coffee available.

    During my midnight drive from Amman to the Dead Sea I noticed that many of the little refreshment stops were still open even so late at night. I suspect that, with times being increasingly hard, it's a good idea to remain open as long as there are potential customers.

    Long drives in Jordan are really no hardship. There is always something of interest to be seen. Unfortunately, sitting in a vehicle which is being driven at speed does not make for good photographs! :-(

    Refreshment stop under construction.... Refreshment stops Mixed fruit & veg Tomatoes Bananas
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    Colourful trucks

    by leics Updated Jan 11, 2015

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    I first spotted these colourful slatted-side, open-top trucks during my late-night drive from Amman airport to the Dead Sea.

    I kept spotting them during all the journeys I made, all over Jordan, but...irritatingly...very rarely managed to take any photos.

    My guide said they are called 'dyna', but I've now realised that's just the name of the vehicle...the Toyota Dyna. They mostly carry fruit & vegetables, taking the goods from farms to shops and markets, but can obviously carry anything the owner wants. Almost all those I saw had been beautifully and freshly painted, with one or two having shiny aluminium (?) shaped panels as extra decoration.

    I wish I could have taken more photos. Seeing these colourful trucks really cheered my Jordanian journeys. :-)

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    Toilets

    by leics Written Jan 10, 2015

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    Outside hotels and the airport, each and every toilet I visited in Jordan (and I visited quite a few) was Western-style and clean enough. I'm not going to pretend that I visited all types of Jordan toilet: I didn't. I visited toilets in ancient sites and in museums, at roadside service stations and in Bedouin camps set up to provide accommodation and meals for visitors.

    Sometimes the flush didn't work, very often the lock didn't work (seemed to be a common problem in ladies' toilets..I wonder why?), occasionally the self-cleaning waterpipe was leaking so the floor was wet....but all the toilets I used were absolutely fine.

    The vast majority had paper supplied, something which did surprise me (I always carried my own anyway). Occasionally (e.g. Petra, Jerash) a toilet attendant (male or female) offered paper for a tip and even if there was no person around there was usually a dish for tips. That's fair enough, imo. People have to make a living and I certainly don't mind paying half a dinar or so to use a clean toilet. We pay to use public toilets in the UK and they are very often not up to scratch. Cleaning toilets is not a job I'd like to do.

    All the toilets I used had hand-washing facilities although I preferred to use the anti-bacterial handrub I'd taken with me. I must stress that I never, ever, ever use such stuff at home; I am a strong believer that immune systems are strengthened by continued contact with bugs of all types. But different countries have different bugs and, on what was my trip of a lifetime so far, I simply didn't want to take any risks. And it worked. When it comes to picking up bugs, door handles in toilets (everywhere in the world) and paper money are the worst offenders.

    In some places the sewage system is simply not up to coping with paper. You'll see notices and/or you'll see a basket by the side of the toilet. Please don't think this is dirty. It is NOT. It is a necessity. And don't be disgusted either. You are not the person who has to empty those baskets....and someone has to do it. So just help out and put your paper in the basket. No big deal.

    If you are caught short when travelling the desert areas you may have some difficulty. As we drove around I often pondered how little 'cover' there was for emergencies of that type. But if you do find somewhere suitable in the wilder areas, please take some matches or a lighter and set fire to your paper afterwards. Otherwise it will simply hang around for months (maybe years) until there is rain. Don't add to the already-too-large amount of paper, plastic, glass and other rubbish which litters Jordanian roadsides.

    'Service station' between Aqaba and Wadi Musa Didn't use this type of 'service station'
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    Water

    by leics Written Jan 10, 2015

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    Jordan is a water-hungry country. Piped running water within buildings is of course normal in cities, towns and villages and the water is safe to drink.

    BUT it's really not a good idea to drink it, especially on a short trip. Although the water is clean and not full of bugs it does have a mineral content to which your system will not be accustomed. That may well result in a stomach upset which will spoil your trip.

    Bottled water is the answer (maybe even for cleaning your teeth). It's on sale everywhere, because Jordanians prefer to drink it as well (many also have filters in their own water systems). As one expects everywhere, you'll pay through the nose for bottled water in airports, in hotels and at visitor-popular sites (around 1JD per bottle seemed the norm when I visited in over New Year 2014/2015) but if you get chance to buy it from an ordinary local shop you'll find it very considerably cheaper. The same applies to beer, by the way!

    Its a good idea to buy a small bottle of water and then just keep refilling it from large, cheaper bottles you buy afterwards.

    Petra is different. The air is exceptionally dry and if you intend to visit, and walk a lot, when it's hot you'll need several litres of water. Carrying all that around will be totally exhausting, so I suggest you just bite the bullet and buy water as you explore from the many Bdul and Bedouin tent-cafes, small shops, rest stops etc which are dotted all over the most-visited part of the site.

    Desert above the Dead Sea It's easy to buy bottled water (Aqaba shops) North-east desert Desert Highway desert Petra desert
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    Respect the differences

    by solopes Updated Oct 2, 2014

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    Despite all the tolerance that is its landmark, Jordan is a muslim country, where many people defend the religious restrictions and cultural uses.

    Mixing with other tourists is common behaviour, sometimes with a discreet reserve. However, that's not hard to accept and respect it.

    Kerak - Jordan Madaba - Jordan
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    Arab Hospitality

    by antistar Updated Mar 6, 2014

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    An Egyptian friend of mine once said, "Sometimes we think we treat foreigners better than we treat each other."

    A couple of stories from my trip to Jordan.

    A invitation to dinner

    My driver for the week, Jihad, possibly because he was amazed at my ability to sing along to parts of the famous Lebanese pop song "The Hat is Yours" (Habbeetik) on the radio, and also know what the song title really meant ("I loved you"), insisted I come back and entertain his family with my bad Arabic. There I was force-fed some amazing home-cooked Jordanian food. While I ate, his children came out to stare at me intently, copying my words and actions and laughing (a lot).

    Hazim, the Bedouin and his tea.

    I was accosted somewhere in the desert by a genuine Bedouin. After surprising him with my few hastily learned words of Arabic ("salam alaikoum!"), he insisted I come inside and drink tea with him. And more tea. And more tea. He spoke pretty good English, but he didn't seem to understand "no thanks", "I've had quite enough tea now, thank you", and "I've really got be going or I'll never get back to my hotel before the sun goes down."

    From Lawrence of Arabia:

    When Lawrence wonders why the Harith Bedouin Sherif Ali doesn't kill him for drinking from their well, after he killed his Hazimi Bedouin friend for the same crime, Sherif Ali tells him:

    "You are welcome."

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    Marriages

    by solopes Updated Jan 3, 2013

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    The first impressions confirmed immediately the social opening of Jordan culture.

    Middle class marriages take place in the hotel, and men and woman celebrate in a rather "western" party, where the presence of foreigners does not worry anyone.

    By the contrary, they seemed pleased to share the joy.

    Jordan Jordan
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    RIGHT HAND AND LEFT HAND

    by davidjo Written Jun 19, 2012

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    When in Jordan or any Moslem country you must eat with the right hand, drink with the right hand and use the right hand when being introduced. The left hand is used for cleaning yourself after visiting the toilet and it would be considered extremely offensive if you used your left hand for eating. The Moslems believe that Satan uses the left hand as mentioned in a Hadith (a rule by Prophet Mohammed)

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    Eating with locals the traditional way

    by davidjo Written Jun 19, 2012

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    If you are invited to visit locals in small villages they will probably follow age old customs, which will mean that the men will eat together, and the women will eat separately, sometimes after the men. But being a foreign guest they may make allowances and your wife or girlfriend mught end up eating with the menfolk.

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    Language time

    by Robin020 Written Nov 14, 2011

    Bear in mind that in Jordan They speak Arabic.
    They have different letters They write and read from right to left,Here are some handy phrases and words (pronounciation) :

    Hello : Marhaba

    How are you : Ki fak

    I am fine : al hamid lil lah

    Thanks very much : shokran ktir

    you are welcome : Afwan

    Money : Masari

    far : ba'eed

    Near : Areeb

    Nice : Hilo ,Jamil

    Delicous : Laziz

    How much : b'kam

    Why : Lesh

    Size : Qiyas

    Taxi : taxi

    Yes : Na'am

    No : La

    Please : min fadlak

    what's your name? :Sho ismak ?

    My name is Robin : Ismi Robin

    where are you from? : min wen inta ?

    I am from Holland: Ana min Hollanda,America,Britania etc

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    Religious Practices

    by PierreZA Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    More than 90% of Jordanians are of Islamic Faith. There are many important Christian sites in Jordan which is very popular with tourists. There are also plenty Islamic Religious sites in Jordan (see website mentioned).
    As in other Muslim countries, it is important to respect the religion. Women do dress conservatively, so do men.
    When using taxis, men sit in the front seat, unaccompanied women & kids sit in the back.
    I also never saw any women in Coffee Houses in any of the towns I visited.
    I did visit some mosques, and were welcomed and was shown around.

    The picture is taken on a Friday in front of King Hussein Mosque in Amman. The streets were full of worshippers listening to the message of the Imam.

    This website gives very good information on important Islamic sites in Jordan: http://www.atlastours.net/jordan/islamic.html

    Friday at King Hussein Mosque, Amman
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  • Visiting a Jordanian household

    by Broceliande Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    If you are invited for a meal, one usually takes a small gift for the household.You can take flowers, chocolates, biscuits or Arab pastries. Remember that it is not really polite to take something that the household would consider as being very expensive.

    The usual way to offer a gift like this is to hand it over as soon as you possibly can. Just mutter "this is for the house" or something similar. However much your gift is appreciated you are unlikely to receive more than a polite thank you. Don't be upset, this is normal.

    In many houses people take off their shoes when entering, so wear slip on shoes or sandals in case.

    If you are invited to a meal, almost certainly a spoon will be offered, don't hesitate to accept it. Everybody may eat from a common plate, take the food immediately opposite to you only. When you are full, say so, no need to burp! Water is usually offered at the end of the meal, there might be a common glass here as well, so drink it down quickly and hand the glass back! When people have finished eating, they will get up immediately to wash hands and mouth, without waiting for everybody else to finish. If this happens when you are still eating, then take your time! After that, everybody lies back on the cushions and the conversation will begin.
    After a meal, coffee will be served, probably tea also after a short interval. After this, you should offer to leave; you will be pressed to stay, it is for you to decide how sincere this is - roughly base yourself on how much you are enjoying yourself and how much you think THEY are enjoying themselves. In general, an invitation to supper is not necessarily an invitation to spend the evening.

    The ladies : if you are part of a couple, they are unlikely to appear, the same if there are men from outside the household present. If you are a woman alone, they MIGHT put in an appearance, and in any case it would be perfectly proper to ask if you could thank them for the meal. However it would not be rude not to do so.

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    BEDOUIN TENTS

    by Elisabcn Written Jan 28, 2011

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    In Wadi Rum you may find these brown tents scattered on the landscape. They are woven by the Bedouin women using the goats’ hair. Goat’s hair shrinks when is wet so it blocks the cold air from outside in winter. However when it is dry, the fabric sags appearing “holes” everywhere which let the breeze pass. A common tent is usually 30 -40 metres long and has two sections: the open area, which in summer is usually open, and the women’s area, on the right hand side, which is kept closed if there are strangers around.
    The public area is used to receive guests. People here can eat, drink, chat but never discuss about money or business (it would be very impolite). Coffee is prepared (toasted) in advance and boiled when guests arrive. Guests may be offered one cup of coffee and even a second one. A third cup means that are considered as a part of the family so never refuse a third cup, it could be very offending for your host.

    Bedouin camp in the desert Bedouin tent View inside

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    Water pipes!

    by Elisabcn Written Jan 27, 2011

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    Ok, ok, I have to admit it: Petra beer is good but in a Muslim country like Jordan it is not easy to find everywhere! But there are some places with good fruit juices, mint tea aaaand water pipes. I don’t smoke (I am only a bloody passive smoker!!!!) but I find smoking narguile very relaxing :-) After a very traumatic “first time” in a men's social club in Istanbul, smoking narguile in Madaba after a day trip was very cool!

    in mission!

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    A Sweet tooth

    by PierreZA Updated May 8, 2010

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    I will go back to Jordan for konafah (k’naffy). This is a wonderful sweet confectionary mad of goat’s milk cheese, topped with phyllo and crushed pistachio, then warm syrup is poured over. It is served warm and one of the most wonderful sweets I ever had!
    There are more of these wonderfully freshly made sweet stuff mad in those big round tins!

    There are also the other typical Middle-Eastern sweets available from sweet shops like Habibah, in Amman.

    Sweet shops are in all the towns I visited in Jordan.

    Sweet Shop - Madaba Sweet Shop - Wadi Musa (Petra)

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Jordan Local Customs

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