When you’re on holiday in Jordan you will notice that most Jordanians are exposed to other cultures and they are aware that breaches of cultural norms by foreigners is not intended to be offensive. Most travelers leave surprised by the amazing hospitality of Jordanians.
Below is a brief list of Do’s and Don’ts to help visitors fit in with the locals!
• Do shake hands when meeting people, conservative veiled women may not reach out.
• Do stand up when greeting others.
• When finished with your cup of Arabic coffee, do 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 mutual goodwill.
• 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 feel free to consume alcoholic beverages, but not in outside public areas.
• 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 “over feeding” you during a meal, as Arabs traditionally view food as an important symbol of hospitality, generosity, and goodwill – the more the better!
Photo by Daniel Kreidlow