Information & Facts
Business in Jordan is conducted with an emphasis on modest, formal attire. Women, in particular, should be sure to dress conservatively. As with most Arab countries, business is very male-dominated and therefore women should clarify their role early in meetings. Meetings often start very late, but it is always advised to be punctual nonetheless. Most business is conducted in English, although using a few words of Arabic (particularly for titles) will be appreciated. Business cards are often exchanged. It is common to be invited for meals by one's host, who will usually pay the bill, although it is appreciated if the guest pays for the final meal or gives a small gift. Business hours are usually 9.30am to 1.30pm and 3.30pm to 6pm Sunday to Thursday.
July and August are the hottest and driest months of the year, especially in Amman and the Jordan Valley, and in the desert areas, with temperatures over 97°F (36°C). Spring and autumn are the most pleasant times to visit with clear, sunny days and moderate temperatures. The winter months from December to March can be very cold, particularly in Amman, with snow, rain and wind, but there is little rainfall in the desert regions and in Aqaba, which makes a pleasant wintertime resort. About 75 percent of the country can be described as having a desert climate with very little annual rainfall.
The international dialling code for Jordan is +962. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). Jordan has international direct dialling with most countries. City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)3 for both Aqaba and Petra, and (0)6 for Amman. Mobile phone companies have roaming agreements with most international mobile phone operators. There are Internet cafes in Amman and most major towns.
The consumption of alcohol is strictly forbidden in the streets. It is advisable to respect local Muslim conservatism regarding dress and women in particular will be better respected if their legs and shoulders are covered in public places. It is advisable to ask permission before photographing people. Bargaining is expected with merchants especially in the markets. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture. Homosexuality is illegal. Bedouin hospitality is genuine, but custom requires that visitors should leave some small gift in return for a meal or a glass of tea.
Travellers to Jordan over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars, or 200 grams of pipe tobacco; 1 litre of alcohol, 1 or 2 bottles of perfume and eau-de-Cologne or lotion for personal use; and gifts to the value of JD50 or US$150. Restricted items include firearms, sporting guns and other weapons without prior approval from authorities of country of origin and destination country. Prohibited items include all narcotics and birds or bird products.
Electrical current is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are the most common.
Inoculations are not required unless travelling from an area infected with yellow fever, in which case a certificate will be requested on arrival. Although not necessary, it is recommended that a vaccination for typhoid be had before travel to Jordan, except for short-term business travellers who restrict their meals to major restaurants and hotels. It is advisable to drink bottled water, which is cheap and widely available, although better hotels have their own water filtering systems. An outbreak of bird flu was detected in poultry in the north of the country, but the risk to travellers is low. However, close contact with live birds should be avoided and all poultry and egg dishes should be well cooked as a precaution. Medical services are good throughout the country with clinics, hospitals and medical centres in every city or village, and many doctors in the larger towns or cities speak English. Most hospitals are privately owned. Travellers should carry their own prescription medicines and medical insurance is recommended.
Arabic is the official language, but English is understood by most people involved in the tourist industry and by middle to upper class Jordanians.
The official currency is the Dinar (JOD), which is divided into 100 piastres or 1,000 fils. Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be changed at any bank or moneychanger, although the latter will usually give a better rate of exchange. Banks are closed on Fridays. Better hotels will also exchange money. American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club are the most widely accepted credit cards and can be used at major hotels, restaurants and tourist shops; cash can be withdrawn from inside banks. ATMs are available, though acceptance of foreign cards is limited.
All foreign passengers to Jordan must hold return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. Furthermore, most nationalities require a visa to enter Jordan, which can be obtained on arrival, if arriving by air. A single-entry visa costs JOD 20, and is valid for one month. Note that the fee is payable in Jordanian Dinars only. This fee may be waived for registered tour groups of more than five people. Also note that all foreign nationals intending to stay in Jordan longer than 14 days will have to undergo an AIDS test, which must be carried out at the Directorate of Immigrant Health and Chest-Related Diseases. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
The vast majority of tourist visits to Jordan are safe and trouble free. However there remains a moderate risk of terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East including Jordan and foreigners should maintain a degree of vigilance particularly in public places frequented by tourists and at tourist sites. The situation in Iraq has had an impact on local opinion, as well as the violence between the neighbouring Israelis and Palestinians, and foreigners should avoid all public demonstrations and political gatherings. There is a fair degree of anti-American and anti-Western sentiment in the country, and no distinction is made between US government personnel and ordinary citizens. Care should be taken at the borders with Israel and Iraq. Crime is not a serious risk for travellers although on buses and in crowded places visitors could be the target of pickpockets or petty thieves.
Most of the better hotels and restaurants will add a 10-12% service charge to the bill, but smaller establishments usually expect a tip. It is customary to round up the price of a taxi trip instead of tipping.