• search
  • US

Jordan's Culture

Because Jordan is a land bridge linking Europe, Africa, and Asia, numerous armies have invaded and departed over the ages. Archeological sites from all periods of history are spread across the country, and the Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Christian Crusaders, and myriad others have all left their marks. Biblical history, aside from Israel and Palestine to the west, is not exclusively limited to Israel and Palestine: Lot fled from the fire and brimstone of the Lord in Jordan; Moses, Aaron, and John the Baptist all died there; and Jesus was probably baptised here. Even the Prophet Muhammad, who passed through the area, was here.
It is important to note that Amman is a thoroughly modern Arab capital, where poverty is the exception rather than the rule. At the same time, the Jordanian government is pro-Western, pro-Arab, Muslim-based, and dedicated to lasting peace with Israel. Women are more integrated into powerful positions in business and government than in most other parts of the Middle East. University education is quite common in Jordan: four percent of the population studies at university, making the proportion similar to the UK's. A willingness to have tea or a meal with the many requests you'll get is a great way to experience the Jordanian people's cosmopolitan and internationally-aware perspective, which is similar to what you'll find at home.
A large number of people take great pleasure in their lineage, whether they are current or former desert-dwellers (bedouins) or from a long-established farming community (fellahs). People residing on their tribal lands in the desert regions still live and work together in villages or alone as individual families, whether they are Ammanis or tribal affiliations (there are many in Amman as well). For a tribe (which is a privilege of birth), respecting the authority of a communal leader (a sheikh) and living in a society that preserves shared historical, cultural, and moral values across national borders is crucial. The concept of honour and mutual protection is quite powerful. Tribal governments are extremely powerful, as the majority of parliament members are elected for their tribal affiliations rather than for their political affiliations. It is because the king is the sheikh of sheikhs that he commands such intense loyalty as well as widespread respect.
The thorny question of national identity dominates in Jordan, which has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees since 1948. Many of those who live east of the Jordan River object to Jordan's demographic imbalance because of the large number of Palestinian refugees who have come to the country since 1948. In addition, Palestinians, who have a strong entrepreneurial and urban culture, dominate the private sector of business. Jordanian citizens of Palestinian ancestry, who comprise a large percentage of the population, often resent the fact that those on the East Bank control the government and the public sector. Citizenship is of less importance to many Palestinian-Jordanians than their national identity, and tribal affiliation is of less importance to many on the East Bank than their tribal affiliation. More Iraqi and Syrian refugees have recently arrived, as well as a large number of Egyptian guest workers. As a result, the situation is even muddier. “Where are you from?” – a simple enough question in many countries – is in Jordan the cue for a life story.

  • experts
  • thumns
  • trip
  • ask