Customs in Jordan

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Customs in Jordan

Jordan is a very hospitable country to tourists and foreigners will be happy to help you if asked. Jordanians in turn will respect you and your culture if you respect theirs. Respect Islam, the dominant religion, and the King of Jordan.

Wear modest clothing to important religious sites. Respect the Jordanian monarchy which has strong backing by the people. The Jordanian monarchy is very pro-Western and very open to reform, as are the Jordanian people.

Standing in lines

Jordanians have a notable issue with standing in line-ups for service. Often those near the rear of a line will try to sidle forwards and pass those in front of them. The line members being passed, rather than object to this tactic, will often instead start to employ this same trick themselves, on the line members in front of them. The end result is often a raucous crowd jostling for service at the kiosk in question.

No one, including the person manning the kiosk, is happy when this situation develops, and often tensions in the jostling crowd seem high enough that violent disagreements feel moments away. However, there is no violence and the sense is that Jordanians recognise common distinct limits as to what was reasonable in line jostling.

Nonetheless, due to this common Jordanian phenomenon, several strategies are suggested.
Arrive early, allow for time, and be patient. Since a degenerate line-up is rarely an efficient line-up, allow in your travel plans for the fact that it will invariably take longer than expected to deal with any service booth arrangements, whether that means customs, buying tickets, waiting to get on a bus, etc.

Avoid the line-up entirely when possible. Often, kiosks handle groups in bursts, such as a customs kiosk that deals with a bus load of people at a time. In these cases, if you do not start already at the front of the line, find a comfortable spot away from the crowd, and just wait for the rest of the group to make their fractious way through before you. Then, make your way up to the kiosk once it's clear. The advantage of being last is that often the kiosk attendant will appreciate your patience and be happy to deal with you now that they do not have a clamoring crowd jostling for their attention.

Ramadan exceptions

Note also that during Ramadan, and particularly on the Eid al-Fitr holiday, schedules will change. Many restaurants, particularly those outside Amman, are closed during the daylight hours of Ramadan, only opening at sunset. This does not affect major restaurants near tourist destinations, however. Also, during Eid al-Fitr it is impossible to get a servees (minibus) in the late afternoon or evening in many parts of the country. Plan in advance if you are taking a servees to an outlying area; you may need to get a taxi back. However, JETT and Trust International Transport usually add more buses to their schedules during this time period, especially those going from Amman to Aqaba.

Round up bills, respect the range of religions, be aware of the heavy penalties for drug use and serious crimes, and remember it's illegal to photograph embassies, military and security installations.

Dress modestly and avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan. Homosexuality is not socially acceptable here and public displays of affection between couples can be punishable by law. 

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