Your experience of Jordanian people and is likely to be that they are, almost without exception, decent, honest, respectful and courteous. It seems only right that you should return some of that respect by showing a grasp of some basic aspects of Jordanian customs, Arab and Muslim culture.

Rough Guides
Jordan’s culture is a pleasant jumble of old and new, and Amman( its capital) has rapidly become one of the most sophisticated cities in the Middle East.

From religious events to ancient customs there are many Jordanian traditions to discover

The culture of Jordan is based on Arabic and Islamic elements. Jordan stands at the intersection of the three continents of the ancient world, lending it geographic and population diversity. Notable aspects of the culture include traditional music and clothing of Jordan, and interest in sports. 

More than 90% of the population lives in the metropolis of Amman, concentrating the culture of Jordan in that city. Clubbing and partying culture are present in Amman, especially in the Western half of the city. Amman is consistently declared as one of the most liberal cities in the region. Malls, global-brand stores, and hotels are important elements in Amman‘s urban life, especially in the Western side.

English is understood and even spoken in lieu of Jordanian Arabic among Jordanians in the upper class. There’s a notable foreign influence on the nation’s political life and foreign affairs. In addition, many people from nearby countries have been immigrating to Amman and calling it their new home in the past few years. This increased trade links with the world and has reshaped the culture. The Cuisine is shared with surrounding nations such as Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.

Values & Traditions

Jordan can be regarded for a typically Arab country for its people are very warm, friendly and hospitable. Jordanians are typically happy to forgive foreigners who break the rules of etiquette. However, visitors seen to be making an effort to observe local customs will undoubtedly win favour.
Joining local people for a cup of tea or coffee can be a wonderful way to learn more about local culture. If you are invited yet are unable to attend, then it is perfectly acceptable to decline. Place your right hand over your heart and politely make your excuses.

Many families, particularly in rural areas, are very traditional and, if you visit their house, you may well find it is divided between the men and women. Foreign women are often treated as “honorary” men.

Local women in Jordan enjoy considerable freedom when compared with many other countries in the region. Women are entitled to a full education, they can vote, they can drive cars, and they often play significant roles in business and politics. Arranged marriages and dowries are still common.


Almost Jordan’s entire population is Arab. This is an ethnic term, but also marks a pan-national identity, largely because nation-states are relatively new: many people in Jordan feel a much stronger cultural affinity with Arabs from nearby countries than, say, Britons might feel with Belgians. The bedouin add a deeper layer of meaning by often regarding themselves to be the only true, original Arabs. Jordan has tiny ethnic minorities of Circassians and Chechens (who are Muslim), Armenians (Christian) and Kurds (Muslim) – all of whom are closely bound into Jordanian society – as well as Dom gypsies (also Muslim).


Jordan is an ideal destination for those seeking cultural knowledge and spiritual enrichment. Jordan values its ethnically and religiously diverse population, consequently providing for the cultural rights of all its citizens. This spirit of tolerance and appreciation is one of the central elements contributing to the stable and peaceful cultural climate flourishing in Jordan. More than 92% of Jordanians are Sunni Muslims and approximately 6% are Christians. The majority of Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, but there are also Greek Catholics, a small Roman Catholic community, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and a few Protestant denominations. Several small Shi’a and Druze populations can also be found in Jordan.

As Jordan is predominantly an Islamic country, one may explore the principles of Islam through direct interaction with the people of this monotheistic religion. As the capstone of a long tradition beginning with Judaism and Christianity, Muslims believe that Islam completes the revelation of God’s message to humankind. Islam – which in Arabic means “submission” – is an assertion of the unity, completeness, and sovereignty of God. Muslims believe that God, or Allah as He is known in Arabic, revealed his final message to humankind through the Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Qur’an, which is the divine immutable word of God. Islam focuses heavily on the equality of all humans before the one true God, and therefore it is in many ways a return to the original doctrine of the pure monotheism that characterized the early Judeo-Christian tradition.

King Hussein Mosque at night

Islamic tradition has crystallized five fundamental observances, or “pillars,” that are as important as faith in defining Islamic identity and strengthening the common bond that ties all Muslims together. They are Confession of Faith, Daily Prayer (five times per day facing the holy city of Mecca), Fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Almsgiving, and Pilgrimage to Mecca.

Male dress code in Jordan

Male dress code in Jordan

Visiting tourists who wear shorts on the street give roughly the same impression that they would wandering around Bournemouth or Baltimore in their underpants. Long trousers are essential in the city, the country and the desert, whatever the weather – clean and respectable light cotton, denim or canvas ones in plain colors (not flimsy, brightly patterned beach-style trousers). If you must wear shorts, go for the loose-fitting knee-length variety rather than brief, shape-hugging athlete’s shorts. Any top that doesn’t cover your shoulders and upper arms counts as underwear. Wearing a T-shirt is acceptable, but a buttoned shirt tucked into trousers broadcasts a sounder message about the kind of value you place on cultural sensitivity. Jordanian men never, in any situation, walk around in public topless.

Outward appearance is the one facet of interaction between locals and western tourists most open to misunderstandings on both sides. A lot of tourists, male and female, consistently flout simple dress codes, unaware of just how much it widens the cultural divide and demeans them in the eyes of local people. Clothes that are unremarkable at home can come across in Jordan as being embarrassing, disrespectful or offensive.

Female dress code in Jordan (2)

Female dress code in Jordan

To interact as a western woman in Jordanian society with some degree of mutual respect, you’ll probably have to go to even greater lengths than men to adjust your normal style of dress, although it is possible to do so without compromising your freedom and individuality too much. Loose-fitting, opaque clothes that cover your legs, arms and chest are a major help in allowing you to relate normally with local men. On women, shorts appear flagrantly provocative and sexual, as do Lycra leggings. T-shirts are also generally best avoided. The nape of the neck is considered particularly erotic and so is best covered, either by a high collar or a thin cotton scarf.

Hair is another area where conservatism helps deter unwanted attention. Jordanian women who don’t wear a headscarf rarely let long hair hang below their shoulders; you might like to follow suit and clip long hair up. To some people, women with wet hair are advertising sexual availability, so you may prefer to dry your hair before going out. If your hair is blonde, you must unfortunately resign yourself to a bit more inquisitive attention – at least when walking in more conservative areas.

Jordanians and Palestinians place a much greater emphasis on personal grooming and style of dress than people tend to in the West: for most, consciously “dressing down” in torn or scruffy clothes is unthinkable. In addition, for reasons of modesty, many people expose as little skin as possible, with long sleeves and high necklines for both sexes.

Social interactions


Nonprint media has played the most important role in Jordanian culture. Television production in particular has thrived due to high quality acting and creative, interesting story lines that challenge and critique contemporary Arab society. Print/digital media too, however, continues to play a large role in Jordanian culture; newspapers include ad-Dustour (“The Constitution”) and Al Ra’i (“The Opinion”), the most widely read of the Arabic language newspapers. Additionally, the country has one daily English-language newspaper, The Jordan Times, and one weekly English-language newspaper, The Star.


Perhaps the most popular form of music in Jordan is patriotic songs that celebrate country and king and are strongly influenced by Bedouin culture.
There is also a type of Bedouin music that relies mostly on one instrument, the rebab or al-rababa (a stringed instrument) and sometimes the mijwiz (reed pipe). Songs of this type usually tackle issues such as raids, battles, and generosity, and they often have a melancholy sound. Jordan’s famous traditional dance is the dabke or dabka, a group dance that involves stamping one’s feet. This dance is performed by men and women, and it employs a variety of steps that differ from region to region.


Jordan’s film industry has cinemas everywhere in Jordan. The only Jordanian films are Captain Abu Raed and Theeb. Though these are the only Jordanian films made in Jordan. multiple Hollywood films have been filmed on location in Jordan, such as Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.[2] The 2010 Oscar winner for Best Picture, The Hurt Locker, was also filmed in Jordan.[3] Much more recently, The Martian (2015), Dune: Part One (2021), Aladdin (2019) and parts of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker were filmed in Jordan.

Social interactions in Jordan

Social interaction in Jordan is replete with all kinds of seemingly impenetrable verbal and behavioral rituals, most of which can remain unaddressed by foreigners with impunity. A few things are worth knowing, however.

The energy which Jordanians put into social relationships can bring shame to westerners used to keeping a distance. Total strangers greet each other like chums and chat happily about nothing special, passers-by ask each other’s advice or exchange opinions without a second thought, and old friends embark on volleys of salutations and cheek-kisses, joyful arm-squeezing or back-slapping, and earnest enquirers after health, family, business and news. Foreigners more used to avoiding strangers and doing business in shops quickly and impersonally can come across as cold, uninterested and even snooty. Smiling, learning one or two of the standard forms of greeting, acknowledging those who are welcoming you and taking the time to exchange pleasantries will bring you closer to people more quickly than anything else.

People shake hands in Jordan much more than in the West, and even the merest contact with a stranger is normally punctuated by at least one or two handshakes to indicate fraternity.


There persists a perceived difference between people whose origins lie in families long resident on the east bank of the River Jordan and people whose families originate on the west bank of the river. All are Jordanian citizens, yet Jordanians of Palestinian origin are estimated to number between half and three-quarters of the total population. Roughly seven percent of people in Jordan are expats, including guest workers – many of them Egyptian, Sri Lankan and Filipino – alongside a sizeable population of Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian refugees.

Personal space

Personal space is treated rather differently in Arab cultures from in the West: for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t exist. Queuing is a foreign notion, and in many situations hanging back deferentially is an invitation for other people to move in front. Jordanians also relate to the natural environment rather differently from westerners. Sitting alone or with a friend in the most perfectly tranquil spot, you may find someone coming up to you blocking the sunset and eager for a chat. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to convey your desire to be alone.

Young Jordanians

More than a third of Jordanians are under 15. This is one of the best-educated countries in the developing world: almost everyone you meet will be able to hold some sort of conversation in English (and possibly French, Spanish and German too). Students from all income groups and social backgrounds mix freely at the universities, where the traditional emphasis on engineering and the sciences – Jordan is a world leader in medical fields including ophthalmology and cardiology – is giving way to new technology.

Tribes in Jordan

Tribes in jordan

A tribe is an extended grouping of families who cultivate a distinctive tradition of history and folklore (mainly oral) and assert ownership of a particular territory. Not all tribes are desert-dwelling – there are many whose background is rural, and others who have become urbanized. Tribal territories, which predate nation-states, often extend across international borders. Some tribes are made up of clans and branches which have taken on tribe-like status; others have banded together in larger, often pan-national, tribal confederations. All these concepts are rather loose, but for a lot of Jordanians, tribal identity is at least as strong as religious or national identity.
Within tribal identity, many people make a distinction between two broad social traditions. The bedouin originate in families who are current or former desert-dwellers: they may once have been nomadic, but are almost all now settled. Some still live in tents in or near the desert, following traditional lifestyles, but many do not: a police officer in Amman or a marketing executive in Aqaba might be as bedouin as a camel-guide in Wadi Rum. By contrast the fellahin originate from a settled, rural, farming tradition, often in the north and west of Jordan. They frequently have strong historic links – often of family or tribe – to rural communities across the borders in Syria and Palestine.


Here’s a quote from a Jordanian involved in rural tourism development: “People underestimate how much of an invasion of privacy taking pictures of women is.” He was talking about bedouin women in the desert – but the rule applies pretty much across the board, in towns and cities nationwide too. Always ask permission before you photograph women in any context, even in the street – and, if you’re in or near a family house or tent, ask permission of the men too. Some people don’t mind, others do. Any refusal will be given graciously and smilingly, but perhaps a little diffidently – ask twice if necessary to be sure you don’t mistake a no for a yes.

Elsewhere, the obvious caveats apply around military installations and international borders, but otherwise there are few issues.


Couples travelling together need to be aware of Jordanian social norms. Put simply, public displays of affection between men and women are not acceptable. Even if you’re married, walking arm-around-waist or arm-over-shoulder, touching each other’s face or body or kissing each other are likely to be viewed as deeply distasteful – as if you were bringing the intimacy of the bedroom into the public sphere. It is possible occasionally to see husbands and wives walking hand-in-hand, but it’s rare.

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