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    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Social Life in Jordan

Behavior

How most Jordanians behave and the expectations for how foreigners must behave is deeply rooted in the people's Islamic faith, but today there is great freedom on how to act and behave. Sometimes single women travelers are looked at oddly by conservative Muslims and for these same people it is also considered improper for a man to touch a woman, even holding your spouse's hand or offering to shake the hand of a person who is of the opposite sex can be considered inappropriate to a conservative Muslim. However, in Jordan you'll rarely encounter these issues. While almost no one will take offense at hand holding, don't offer your hand to a local woman unless she does so first.

Another important and noticeable note is that Islamic law forbids pork products and alcohol so both should be avoided. Although some hotels may offer alcohol in their restaurants, pork is nearly impossible to find and consuming either is offensive and is best avoided. For more information on dining in Jordan visit our Jordan Food & Drinks Page. Additionally, avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, religion, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, or showing off wealth.

Dress

Most locals in Jordan wear western-styled clothing today, but many people still wear more traditional clothing. For men this traditional dress is usually a white dishdasha, which is a loose-fitting garment that completely covers a person from the neck down. Women more often wear black and their dress is also called a dishdasha or an abaya; however the decoration and detail of a woman's dress tends to be much more significant than a man's. Both men and women in traditional dress cover their hair; women wear a black cloth called a hijab, which is wrapped around their neck so only their faces can be seen, while men wear a red and white checkered cloth called a keffiyeh or hattah.

Jordanian Culture - Bedu in Petra
Bedu in Petra

Today, most Jordanians wear western-styled clothing with the traditional headwear. These clothes are similar to what can be seen in much of the world, but both men and women tend to cover up with long-sleeved shirts and pants the norm. Despite this conservative dress, it is not uncommon for many women to wear rather tight-fitting western-styled clothes today.

Foreigners in Jordan are free to wear nearly anything they desire so long as they don's show too much skin. Tight-fitting clothing is well-accepted, but showing skin is not always as well accepted so be sure to cover your elbows and knees at a minimum. If in more formal or conservative settings dress to at least the wrists and ankles and women may even want to cover their hair. Few people in Jordan will be offended with mistakes in your dress, but covering up is greatly appreciated and some settings, like mosques, require modest dress as women are also required to cover their hair in these settings. There is no expectation that foreign women cover their hair in Jordan, although some women may feel more comfortable doing so.

This page was last updated: December, 2013