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Local Customs in Jordan: A Guide to Traditions and Etiquette

If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the country’s local customs. Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, and as such, many of its customs and traditions are influenced by Islam. However, there are also many other cultural practices that are unique to Jordan and its people.

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One of the most important customs to be aware of in Jordan is the concept of hospitality. Jordanians are known for their warm and welcoming nature, and it’s not uncommon for strangers to be invited into homes for tea or a meal. If you’re invited to someone’s home, it’s important to remove your shoes before entering and to dress modestly. It’s also customary to bring a small gift, such as sweets or flowers, for your host.

Another important custom in Jordan is the practice of Ramadan. This is a month-long period of fasting and spiritual reflection for Muslims, and it’s important to be respectful of those who are observing this holy month. This means avoiding eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours, and being mindful of your behaviour around those who are fasting. It’s also worth noting that many restaurants and cafes may be closed during the day, but will open late into the night to accommodate those who are fasting.

Social Etiquette and Greetings

Hospitality Norms

In Jordan, hospitality is a significant aspect of the culture. Jordanians are known for their warm and welcoming nature, and they take pride in making guests feel comfortable. If you are invited to a Jordanian home, it is customary to bring a small gift, such as sweets or flowers, to show your appreciation. When you arrive, you will be offered tea, coffee, or juice as a gesture of hospitality. It is polite to accept the offer and engage in small talk before moving on to the main reason for your visit.

During meals, it is customary to use your right hand to eat, as the left hand is considered unclean. Jordanians typically eat with their hands, but utensils are also available. It is polite to wait for the host to begin eating before you start. If you are offered seconds or more food, it is polite to accept, as it shows that you enjoyed the meal.

Common Greetings and Gestures

In Jordan, greetings are an essential part of social interaction. When meeting someone for the first time, it is customary to shake hands, and this is also the case when saying goodbye. Jordanians also commonly greet each other by saying “Salam alaykum,” which means “peace be upon you.” The response is “Wa alaykum as-salam,” which means “and upon you be peace.”

It is also common for Jordanians to greet each other with a kiss on each cheek, starting with the right cheek. This is more common between members of the same gender than between men and women. If you are unsure whether to initiate this gesture, it is best to wait for the other person to do so.

When addressing someone, it is polite to use their title and last name, such as “Mr. Ahmed” or “Ms. Khalil.” If you are unsure of their title, it is acceptable to ask. Jordanians also value personal space, so it is best to avoid standing too close or touching someone you have just met.

Overall, by following these social etiquette and greeting norms, you can show respect and appreciation for Jordanian culture and make a positive impression on those you meet.

Traditional Dress and Appearance

National Attire

When it comes to traditional dress in Jordan, the national attire is the thobe, which is a long, loose-fitting garment that is worn by both men and women. The thobe is typically made of cotton or wool and comes in a variety of colours and patterns. Men’s thobes are usually white or beige and may have embroidery on the collar and cuffs, while women’s thobes come in a wider range of colours and may have intricate embroidery or beading on the bodice and sleeves.

In addition to the thobe, men may also wear a headscarf called a keffiyeh, which is typically made of cotton or wool and is black and white or red and white in colour. Women may wear a hijab or headscarf to cover their hair, and some may also wear a niqab to cover their face.

Jewellery and Accessories

Jewellery and accessories are an important part of traditional dress in Jordan. Women may wear gold or silver jewellery, including necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. They may also wear a belt called a hizam, which is often made of silver and is worn around the waist to accentuate the figure.

Men may wear a belt called a shemagh, which is often made of leather and may have intricate embroidery or beading. They may also wear a dagger called a jambiya, which is worn on the belt and is a symbol of status and masculinity.

Overall, traditional dress in Jordan is an important part of the country’s culture and heritage. Whether you are attending a wedding or just walking down the street, you are sure to see people wearing the thobe and other traditional garments, along with beautiful jewellery and accessories that reflect the country’s rich history and traditions.

Dining Customs

Typical Meals and Dishes

When dining in Jordan, you can expect to be served a variety of traditional dishes that reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage. Some of the most popular dishes include Mansaf, a lamb or chicken dish served with rice and yoghurt sauce, and Makloubeh, a layered dish of rice, vegetables, and meat. Other common dishes include Fattoush, a salad made with fresh vegetables and toasted bread, and Hummus, a dip made from chickpeas, tahini, and olive oil.

Eating Etiquette

In Jordan, dining is considered a social event, and it is customary to share food with others. When dining with locals, it is important to remember that Jordanians eat with their right hand and use bread to scoop up food. It is also important to wait for the host to begin eating before you start and to leave a small amount of food on your plate as a sign of respect.

In addition, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a home or a traditional restaurant. When dining in a group, it is polite to offer food to others before serving yourself. Finally, it is customary to offer thanks to the host or hostess at the end of the meal by saying “Shukran” (thank you) or “Jazak Allah Khair” (May God reward you).

Religious Observances

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Islamic Practices

Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, and Islam is the state religion. Therefore, it is important to respect Islamic practices while visiting the country. During prayer times, which occur five times a day, it is customary for Muslims to stop what they are doing and pray. It is important to be aware of this and not disturb those who are praying.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This means that many restaurants and cafes may be closed during the day, and it is important to be respectful of those who are fasting. It is also important to dress modestly during Ramadan and avoid eating or drinking in public during the day.

Public Behaviour During Ramadan

Ramadan is a time of reflection and spiritual growth for Muslims, and it is important to respect this. Public behaviour during Ramadan should be respectful and considerate. This means avoiding loud music or parties during the night, as well as being mindful of the way you dress and behave in public.

It is also important to be aware of the customs surrounding the breaking of the fast at sunset. Many families will gather together to break their fast, and it is customary to offer food and drink to guests. If you are invited to join in the breaking of the fast, it is polite to accept the invitation and show respect for this important custom.

Overall, it is important to be respectful of Islamic practices and customs while visiting Jordan. By doing so, you can gain a deeper understanding of the country’s culture and traditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the traditional customs one should be aware of when visiting Jordan?

When visiting Jordan, it is important to be aware of the traditional customs that are followed by the locals. It is customary to greet people with a handshake and a smile, and it is considered polite to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home. Modest clothing is also appreciated, especially when visiting religious sites. It is also important to respect the local culture and traditions, and avoid any behaviour that may be considered offensive.

What types of food are integral to Jordanian culture?

Jordanian cuisine is known for its rich and diverse flavours. Some of the most popular dishes include mansaf, a traditional dish made with lamb, rice, and yoghurt sauce, and falafel, a deep-fried ball made from chickpeas and spices. Other popular dishes include hummus, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush. Jordanian tea and coffee are also an integral part of the culture and are often served during social gatherings.

Could you elaborate on the tipping etiquette in Jordan?

Tipping is not mandatory in Jordan, but it is appreciated for good service. In restaurants, a tip of 10% is usually sufficient. It is also common to tip taxi drivers and hotel staff, but the amount is usually left to the discretion of the individual. It is important to note that bargaining is a common practice in Jordan, especially in markets and souks.

What are the typical customs duties and fees for importing goods into Jordan?

The customs duties and fees for importing goods into Jordan can vary depending on the type and value of the goods. It is recommended to check with the Jordanian Customs Department for the latest information on tariffs and fees. It is also important to note that some items may be subject to import restrictions or require special permits.

What items are strictly prohibited from being brought into Jordan?

Certain items are strictly prohibited from being brought into Jordan, including illegal drugs, firearms, and pornography. It is also important to note that bringing in Israeli products or materials is strictly prohibited.

How does the customs clearance process work in Jordan?

The customs clearance process in Jordan is typically straightforward. When arriving in Jordan, travellers must declare any goods that they are bringing into the country. The customs officials will then inspect the goods and determine if any duties or fees apply. It is important to have all necessary documentation and permits for any restricted or controlled goods.

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