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Business Etiquettes in Jordan


Visitors going to Jordan typically find it much more Westernised and modern than many of them expected. Jordan has a high literacy rate, and English is widely spoken. The country has a good infrastructure, and Amman, the capital, is a sprawling yet clean city that is different to some other Middle Eastern cities. Jordanian society is segmented into a minority of upper-class and upper-middle-class elites and a much poorer majority. This contrast is reflected in Amman, where the western part of the city is Westernised and new, while east Amman is more conservative and less affluent.

Meeting & Greeting

A handshake is the common form of greeting for both men and women. However, some Muslim women are not comfortable shaking hands with men. It is best to nod, say something in greeting and wait for the woman to initiate a handshake. Western women may shake hands freely with both men and women, but bear in mind that some conservative religious Arab men might find it inappropriate to shake hands with a woman.

Typically the eldest person is addressed first as a sign of respect. However, social and business hierarchies are becoming increasingly more important than age considerations.

English titles are commonly used in business. As a semiformal title, an Arab may be addressed as the father of (Abu) or mother of (Um) their eldest son (or eldest daughter if they do not have a son). So Abu Mohammed is the father of Mohammed. Jordanians have only one surname. Of note, however, is that a person's second and third names are the names of the person's father and grandfather, respectively, even for women. So for someone named Karim Ibrahim Yusef Hamdi, Karim is the first name, Ibrahim is the father's name, Yusef is the grandfather's name, and Hamdi is the surname. A visitor's marital status will not affect the conduct or success of business meetings.

Business Meetings

It would be advisable to have a local contact or intermediary to schedule meetings and conduct business. It will likely save you a great deal of time, as you must go through a significant amount of bureaucracy to get things done with the government. You will find that you are able to arrange appointments on rather short notice.

You will also discover that appointments aren't regarded with quite the same degree of sanctity as they are in the West. Jordanians are quite lax when it comes to schedules and appointments. Be patient and expect people to be late and to cancel on short notice. A good strategy is to always confirm appointments and, if it's really important, confirm more than once.

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