Reflections on My Stay in Jordan

by  Jim Sherman | Jun 22, 2010
Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan / chemistkane/iStock

This may sound odd, but Amman is a bit like L.A.: everything is a car ride away. You need to know where to go (unlike Beirut which is a more meanderer-friendly town). People say Amman is the newest up-and-coming cosmopolitan city in the Middle East, after Beirut, Tel Aviv, and Dubai. And there is no doubt that an expat educated and moneyed class have come back to energize this city.

The people of Jordan are exceedingly nice and hospitable (like the Lebanese and Syrians), and most in Amman speak English. The society does have conservative cultural aspects. You will see many more covered/veiled women here than in Beirut. But there is a stylish set just the same; just go to one of the new nightclubs.

On the political front, the Jordanians are decidedly moderate, which is a welcome position in the region. They have peace with Israel but cross-border tourism is minimal. Each side needs a visa to visit the other. My guide said he hopes one day more Israelis will come. The Jordanians seem to adore their king, King Abdullah. Whenever I ask about any interest in elections, I get blank stares – like, why would I ask. The King seems to be bettering the lives of people so there is progress, and that's what matters to most.

On the Palestinian question, it's a touchy situation in Jordan. About 50 percent of Jordanians are Palestinian. It took me some digging to understand that if a Jordanian says he's Jordanian, it's his way of saying non-Palestinian. If someone said he's Palestinian, then that's what he is but likely he has Jordanian nationality.

Contrast this with Lebanon: Palestinians living in the country are not citizens of Lebanon, and they face considerable discrimination there as a minority. You can see more on the Palestinian issue in my post on the West Bank and Palestine.

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