Understanding local customs in Jordan and Jordanian Traditions is an important part of the experience. For foreign visitors, having awareness allows for mutual respect and a deeper connection with locals. Here are a few tips to understand local customs in Jordan.
It is considered polite to shake hands when meeting people for the first time. Putting out a hand to greet is a friendly gesture. Women that are veiled or conservatively dressed are not likely to put out their hand, do not be offended, and do not put out a hand to shake their hands.
In general, tipping is always to personal discretion. In restaurants and cafes, giving a 10% gratuity is generous and encouraged when service is good. Some restaurants include service in the bill so it is always important to check the bill first if the gratuity has already been added.
When drinking Arabic coffee, to signify to the host that more coffee is requested, shaking the cup from side to side indicates this. It is polite and appropriate to then hold the cup out to the person who is serving the coffee. This is specific to Bedouin culture. However, in most homes in Jordan when coffee is offered by a host it is polite and respectful to accept.
Sign of Respect
When meeting people for the first time, a sign of respect is to stand up to say hello. This can be done for both men and women and shows respect and goodwill.
It is acceptable and even encouraged to negotiate and bargain with vendors and merchants in shops throughout Jordan. Most specifically in markets in Jordan, bargaining is part of the experience.
Dressing modestly is a sign of respect and part of the regular decorum in Jordan. Especially when visiting religious areas or public spaces, wearing conservative clothes is encouraged. Here are some ideas of what to wear in Jordan.
It is common for Arabs to greet each other by giving a small kiss on both cheeks. This is a sign of warmth, affection and is giving to both men and women. It is not expected by foreign visitors, however, it is a sign of warmth, and best not to be caught off guard if greeted with a small kiss on both cheeks.
Be mindful of those praying outside in public spaces. It is common for Muslims to pray outside, in which case do not interrupt or pass in front. Additionally, do not stare. During religious holidays such as Ramadan, be respectful not to eat in public areas. This is also true of drinking and smoking cigarettes in public spaces during Ramadan. Learn more about holidays in Jordan.
Food and sharing is a large part of Jordanian culture. It is not uncommon to overeat and is in fact, a gesture of goodwill. Eating in access shows to the host that the meal was enjoyed and symbolizes generosity and hospitality, which are both important parts of Jordanian culture.