Jordan’s culture is a pleasant jumble of old and new, and Amman, the capital, has rapidly become one of the most sophisticated cities in the Middle East.
The majority of Jordanians are either of Bedouin or Palestinian origins; however, various minorities from neighbouring countries can be found. This is because Jordan historically has been a safe destination for refugees fleeing conflicts in the region. It has been calculated that one in every three persons in Jordan has a refugee background. The diversity of communities and ethnic groups adds to the already rich Jordanian heritage by bringing new recipes, arts, and traditions. In Amman, it is possible to enjoy among the most authentic dishes from Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, and Egypt. You can also attend concerts of musicians from all over the Middle East and the world. The integration of other Middle Eastern nationalities in Jordan is also facilitated by the language. While Jordan’s colloquial language is amiya, a dialect spoken in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine, the written language, is classical Arabic, or fussha, a standardized language that is taught in every Middle Eastern country. English is also widely used in commerce, government and taught at public and private schools.
The strong connection that Jordanians have with religion is an interesting cultural aspect. Jordan is a majority Muslim country. Around 5% of the population practice Christianity. Christians in Jordan are exceptionally well integrated into Jordanian society and Jordanian Christian communities resemble Muslim communities in many aspects. For instance, like Muslim communities, Christian communities are organized in tribes placing strong importance on the extended family system.
A core aspect of Jordanian culture is hospitality. The societal rule of taking care of the guest originates in Bedouin tradition and is deeply embedded in Jordanian society and customs. Every Jordanian has a natural predisposition to being kind and hospitable toward visitors, earning Jordan special recognition in the hospitality sector. Along with the value of hospitality and generosity, Jordan has also surprisingly managed to preserve its cultural identity despite the influence of globalization. Some people outside of Amman still wear traditional clothing. The traditional outfit typically worn by men is made of a one-piece full-length dress, called a “Dishdashah” or “Thoub”, a white cap called “Thagiyah” and a scarf-like headcover. The women’s national custom is a handmade full-length black dress embroidered with patterns in red.
Beyond the rich traditional culture, new forms of music and arts are constantly growing-encouraged by the younger generations’ need for a place to vent frustrations and concerns over the socio-political situation of the region, and a desire to create their identity between the traditional values and modern ones. The paintings, sculptures, graffiti and photography found in the streets and numerous galleries and cafes of Amman are all representations of Jordan’s artistic movements.