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The magic ancient Nabataean town of Petra

The magic ancient Nabataean town of Petra

For many individuals Jordan begins and ends with the magic ancient Nabataean town of Petra. And it is true, Petra is without doubt one of the Middle East’s most spectacular, unmissable sights, battling it out with Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat for the title of the world’s most dramatic “lost city”.

Yet there is so much more to see in Jordan – ruined Roman cities, Crusader castles, desert citadels and powerful biblical sites: the brook where Jesus was baptized, the fortress where Herod decapitated John the Baptist and the mountain top where Moses cast eyes on the Promised Land. Biblical scenes are not just consigned to the past in Jordan; you will see plenty of men wearing full-flowing robes and leading herds of livestock across the timeless desert.

But it is not all crusty ruins. From the rock-climbing highs of Wadi Rum to floating within the Dead Sea (the lowest place on Earth), Jordan offers some of the wildest adventures in the region. The unbelievably varied scenery ranges from the red desert sands of Wadi Rum to the brilliant blues of the coral-filled Gulf of Aqaba; from wealthy palm-filled Wadis to the lifeless Dead Sea.

Ultimately it is the sensual delights of daily life in the Middle East that you will hanker for longest after you return home; the bittersweet taste of cardamom coffee or the smell of a richly scented shisha (water pipe); the intoxicating swirl of Arabic pop sliding out of an Amman doorway and the deafening silence of the desert.

Jordanians are a passionate and proud individuals and the country truly welcomes guests with open arms. Despite being between the hotspots of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel & the Palestinian Territories, Jordan is probably the most stable country in the region. Regardless where you are coming from, you will be greeted with nothing but courtesy and hospitality in this gem of a country.

Arab traditions of hospitality and kindness are deeply ingrained in the psyches of most Jordanians, especially the Bedouin. Rooted in the harsh realities of life in the desert, these traditions have been virtually codified into all social behavior. These century-old notions of hospitality mix with an easy modernity and wonderful sense of humor that make Jordanians easy to get along with.

Writers over the centuries have commented on the dignity, pride and courtesy of the Bedouin in particular, characterizing them as courageous and fierce fighters yet also intense and loyal friends.
Yet there is an increasing polarization in Jordanian society and in many ways the modern Western-looking outlook of Amman’s young middle and upper classes contrasts starkly with the conservative Bedouin morality of the countryside.

Sharing deep ethnic and cultural ties with both Palestine and Iraq, many Jordanians are frustrated and at times even angered by American and European policies towards the Middle East, but Jordanians are always able to differentiate a government and its policies from its people. You will never be greeted with animosity in Jordan, regardless of your nationality; only a courtesy and hospitality that is deeply impressive and often quite humbling.
Jordan is one of the better-educated Arab countries; about 87% of Jordanians are literate, and about 97% of children attend primary school. It is compulsory for children until 14 years old.

Ancient cities, desert landscapes and the most intriguing sea in the world – that is Jordan!

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