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Jordan Customs & Etiquettes

Visitors 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 differs from 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.

Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. Jordanians are proud of their Arab culture, and hospitality here is a matter of great importance. Visitors are made to feel very welcome and Jordanians are happy to act as hosts and guides, and are keen to inform tourists about their traditions and culture. Islam always plays an important role in society and it is essential that Muslim beliefs are respected.

When engaging in conversation, visitors should keep as much distance from their hosts as they would in their own country. Gestures such as touching someone's arm are acceptable. Moreover, Arab men frequently walk hand in hand, which is perfectly acceptable in Arab society. Gestures such as a friendly pat on the back are unlikely at first. Westerners will initially experience a certain distance between themselves and the locals simply because of the fact that they are foreign.

If you travel with a partner who is not your spouse, do not advertise this fact. Public displays of affection are inappropriate. Jordanians tend to be extremely friendly and generous with visitors. The family is very important in Arab society, and it is acceptable to inquire about the family members of an acquaintance. In some cases, you will be expected to remove your shoes before entering a home.

Arabic coffee will normally be served continuously during social occasions. To signal that no more is wanted, slightly tilt the cup when handing it back, otherwise it will be refilled. A small gift is quite acceptable in return for hospitality. Women are expected to dress modestly and beachwear must only be worn at the beach or poolside.

Respect the Jordanian monarchy which has strong backing by the people. The Jordanian monarchy is very pro-Western and very open to reform as is the Jordanian people.

Jordanians have a notable issue with standing in line-ups for service. Often those near the rear of a line will try to sidle forwards and pass those in front of them. The line members being passed, rather than object to this tactic, will often instead start to employ this same trick themselves, on the line members in front of them. The end result is often a raucous crowd jostling for service at the kiosk in question.





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