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Do's & Don'ts in Jordan

Do’s:

 

  • Do shake hands when meeting people conservative veiled women may not reach out.
  • When finished with your cup of Arabic coffee, shake your cup from side to side in order to let your host know that you do not wish to drink more. If more coffee is desired, then simply hold your cup out to the person carrying the coffeepot.
  • Do accept when Arabic coffee is offered to you by your host, as coffee is an important cultural symbol of hospitality, simultaneously extended and accepted as an act of reciprocated goodwill.
  • Do tip waiters approximately 10% gratuity in addition to the bill (unless a service charge is included in the total bill).
  • Do haggle with merchants when shopping.
  • Do dress conservatively when exploring public areas of Jordan.
  • Do be aware that Arabs tend to stand a fraction of the distance closer when conversing than people do in the West. 
  • Do stand up when greeting others.
  • Do round your taxi fare up to the nearest tenth when paying your driver.
  • Do feel free to consume alcoholic beverages, but not in outside public areas. 
  • Do use your hands: Table manners are carefree in Jordan. Eating food with your hands is a common custom, and also indicates that you are enjoying the food on offer. Mansaf, Jordan’s famous     traditional dish, for example, is usually eaten with your hands.  
  • Do ask for photography permissions: Jordan is undoubtedly one of the most photogenic regions in the world. The locals are often happy to pose for your photographs as well. But before attempting to take any pictures of them, always ask for permission first, especially when women are present.
  • Do always pack a scarf: Aside from dress codes, a scarf can come in handy for totally different reasons. On a hot day, it might be a good idea to cover your head to avoid getting heat stroke – this is especially the case when visiting a desert tourist site like Wadi Rum or Petra. Female visitors might need a scarf when visiting a religious site, like the spectacular King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque.

 

Don’ts:

 

  • Don’t interrupt, or pass in front of, a Muslim who may be praying in a public place.
  • Don’t openly consume food, beverages, or cigarettes in public places during the holy month of Ramadan.
  • Don’t dress provocatively when walking outdoors.
  • Don’t panic if an acquaintance “pecks” you on the cheeks when greeting you, as Arabs have traditionally kissed each other on both cheeks as a warm gesture of welcome and affection.  
  • Don’t feel uncomfortable if your host insists on “overfeeding” you during a meal, as Arabs traditionally view food as an important symbol of hospitality, generosity, and goodwill – the more the better!
  • Don’t feel that you are required to tip your taxi driver, as tipping in such a scenario is not necessary, but is certainly appreciated. 
  • Don't say no to food: Jordanians are very generous and hospitable people. They take their guests’ comfort very seriously, and go to great lengths to make them feel at home. It is also a known fact that they enjoy sharing their meals with everyone. Always smile and accept the food offering, as repeatedly telling them you’re full will likely offend them.
  • Israel is a sensitive subject: Jordan is home to both Jordanians and Palestinians, and the subject of Israel is a very sensitive matter. As a traveler, you might have differing opinions regarding this topic, but it is advised never to open up or participate in discussions relating to it.
  • Avoid the rush hour: Traffic jams reach their peak between 7 am-9 am & 2 pm–5 pm.  
  • Always plan your movements through the city in advance, or choose to walk to closer destinations on foot during those times.
  • Don’t drink water from just anywhere: Tap water is drinkable in Jordan but Jordaians are used not to do. Unlike in Western countries, tap water in Jordan is only used to wash things. Nonetheless, you can get drinkable water delivered to your doorstep at any time of day, or you can bottles in corner shops or big stores.
  • Vegetarians, be alert: Vegetarianism is widely accepted and catered to in Jordanian culture. however, those who don’t eat meat will still be left with very limited choices when it comes to traditional cuisine.
  • Animal produtes: Almost all Jordanian dishes contain animal products in one way or another., so be prepared – say, if invited to lunch – to stare down at a table full of meat dishes, and be aware that it is very disrespectful to show disgust for food in Jordan.

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