The Culture Of Jordan

Outside the Al-Husseini Mosque in Amman, Jordan.  Editorial credit: Maurizio De Mattei /
Outside the Al-Husseini Mosque in Amman, Jordan. Editorial credit: Maurizio De Mattei /

The Middle Eastern Arab country of Jordan is located on the Jordan River’s East Bank. Due to its location at the crossroads of the three continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the country’s culture is influenced by Arabic, Islamic, and Western elements.

6. Ethnicity, Language, and Religion in Jordan

Jordan is home to a population of around 10,458,413 individuals. Ethnic Jordanians comprise 69.3% of the population of the country. Other ethnic groups of Jordan include Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian, Iraqi, and others. Arabic is the official language and is spoken by most of the population. English is spoken widely among the upper and middle classes of Jordan. Islam is the official and largest religion in the country comprising 97.2% of the population. Christians account for 2.2% of the population.

5. Cuisine of Jordan

Jordanian cuisine has developed over many centuries. Baking, grilling, roasting, sautéeing, etc., are some of the many techniques used in the cuisine. A wide variety of meat like beef, lamb, goat, and poultry are consumed. Carrots, greens, and eggplants are the most commonly eaten vegetables. Olive oil is an important ingredient and most cooking is done using this oil. Lemon, garlic, herbs, tomato sauce, etc., are used to flavor the Jordanian dishes. Yogurt is often used as an accompaniment or an ingredient of a dish. Mansaf (lamb cooked in fermented yogurt, and served with rice or bulgur) is Jordan’s national dish. The zarb is another traditional dish consisting of rice served with slow cooked lamb prepared in a taboon (a submerged oven). Hummus and falafel are also eaten. Baklava, halva, knafeh, etc., are some popular desserts. Turkish coffee and tea flavored with sage and mint are everyday drinks. Arabic coffee is offered on more formal occasions.

4. Literature and the Arts in Jordan

The Jordanian literature is a part of the larger wealth of Arabic literature. Historically, much of Jordan's literature has been oral in nature. Poetry was an important part of this literature since ancient times. Even today, the Bedouin community of the country continues to use poetry as a form of entertainment or for praising or criticizing their leaders. Poetry is either recited or sung. A one-stringed violin-like instrument called the rabab is played to produce music to accompany the singing of poetic verses. Contemporary Arabic literature began in the second half of the 19th century. Cairo and Beirut became the major hubs of the evolution of such literature, and it soon spread to Jordan. It included the writing of novels and short stories that replaced the more classical literary formats.

Like literature, art in Jordan also has an ancient history. Some notable fields of Jordanian art and craft work include mosaics, silver work, glass-blowing, ceramics, weaving, and calligraphy.

3. Performance Arts in Jordan

Jordan has a long history of traditional music. Poetry recited to the tunes of various traditional instruments like the tablah, oud, rabab, mijwiz, etc., have been an integral component of the country’s culture for centuries. Recently, however, Western music has had a significant influence on the Jordanian performing arts scene. The number of Jordanian pop stars and DJs have also risen considerably. Rum is a highly successful, internationally famous musical group from the country. It plays rearranged Jordanian folklore, songs, and instrumentals.

The dabke is one of Jordan's most popular traditional dances. Here, dancers gather together to form a circle. They place their arms over the shoulders of the neighboring dancers and then move around in a circle, and kicking and stomping their feet to the tune of music. Mizmar (a reed instrument), tabl (drum), and ney (flute) are some of the musical instruments used to produce the dabke dance music. In more recent times, Western dance styles have also influenced the performance art scene in Jordan. Ballroom and ballet dance studios have opened up in major cities like the national capital, Amman.

2. Sports in Jordan

Sports are an important part of the Jordanian culture. The people of the country engage in a wide variety of sports including tennis, basketball, cycling, diving, swimming, equestrian games, etc. Football (soccer) is the nation’s most popular sport. The Jordan League attracts a large number of spectators every season. Rugby is also gaining a lot of attention in recent years. Four Jordanian clubs already play the game.

1. Life in the Jordanian Society

The society in Jordan is patriarchal in nature. Islamic beliefs guide the way of life. Women are expected to obey their fathers, brothers, and husbands at different stages of their life. The process of educating women began only recently in the country. Very few women work outside the home. The free mixing of members of the opposite gender is strictly restricted. Unless married or related, men and women are not allowed to be together in all public situations. Women are expected to cover their heads with scarves. Some also cover their faces with a veil.

Getting married and having children are often the top priorities of life in Jordan. Marriages are mostly arranged and are often between cousins. Extended households are common in Jordan. The bride moves in to stay with the groom and his family after marriage. Polygamy is practiced by many men in Jordan. If divorces occur, the men have the right to keep the children. Divorced women are often regarded as outcasts. Hence, divorce is not a common practice in the country. Inheritance is guided by Islamic laws. Male children are highly prized.

Over 60% of Jordan’s population lives in the Amman Metropolitan area. The metropolis has a thriving Jordanian pop culture that is heavily influenced by “Western” music, movies, and fashion. Partying and clubbing are an integral part of the culture of this city. Hotels, malls, and stores selling Western brands are common in Amman.

The Jordanians are known to be great hosts. Even on the streets of the country, one can often hear the greeting of "ahlan wa sahlan" ("I welcome you”). One of the traditions in the culture is to welcome a guest by sharing a cup of coffee together. The host takes the first sip of the coffee to ensure it is perfect and then the guest has the rest. The guest is also offered food and a resting place at home.


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