Have You Ever Thought About Teaching in Jordan?

There are many international schools in Jordan (mostly in Amman, the capital city) for expat students with primary instruction in English and some bilingual schools that use Arabic in addition to English. International school teachers are employed in all subject areas and can also tutor English privately on the side to supplement their income or engage in additional teaching at any number of the language schools in the evening. Most international and language schools prefer to hire individuals with a 4-year BA and those with TEFL certification and/or prior teaching experience.

Although wages are not overly high, the cost of living is low so teachers can expect to live comfortably. Usually, airfare and living accommodations are included and the salary is tax-free which allows teachers to travel and/or to build up savings.

The country boasts of its quality education, unparalleled in the Arab World with an emphasis on math, science, and technology. In fact, these fields reflect the largest employment growth areas in the region. Jordan has 10 public universities, 16 private universities, and 54 community colleges. Over 200,000 Jordanian students are enrolled in universities each year. About 20,000 additional students pursue higher education abroad in Europe and the United States.

Size and Region

Jordan’s official name is The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as of 1949 after King Abdullah I declared the end of the British Mandate and the country’s independence in May 1946. The country is a constitutional monarchy with the king holding most legislative and executive powers.

Jordan is a relatively-small landlocked country (approximately 9.5 million people) between Africa and Asia with 2.9 million classified as non-citizens. Arabs account for 98% of the population.

The country is 89,341 square kilometers (34,495 sq. mi) large and 400 kilometers (250 mi) long between its northernmost and southernmost points. Jordan borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel/Palestine and the Dead Sea to the west, and the Red Sea to the southwest. Amman, the capital, is also Jordan’s most populated city (over 4 million) and Jordan’s cultural, political, and economic center. Syrians, Egyptians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Yemenis, Libyans, and American and European expatriates work in many international organizations, diplomatic missions, and primarily service and tourism-related jobs mostly in Amman and some of the larger cities: Irbid, Jerash, Zarqa (northwest); Al-Salt (central west); Madaba, Al-Karak, Aqaba (southwest); Azraq and Ruwaished (east).

There is a slight Christian minority of 10%; the remaining residents are Islamic.

Daily Temperatures and Weather

Be prepared for the hot weather in the summer (90-110° F/32-44° C) and expect some rain in the winter months of November through April. The winter temperatures average around 55° F/13° C. In the winter months, there can be occasional snow in Amman and the mountain areas.

What’s there to see?

You can take in Crusaders’ forts and old trade routes along ancient cities carved in stone as well as tour modern cities. You can drive through the desert, relax at a Dead Sea spa, and try scuba diving or snorkeling in the Red Sea. There are many dive shops and schools that rent equipment and offer excursions and various classes.

The country’s terrain is a mixture of a little bit of everything from mountains, fertile river valleys, canyons, gorges to forests, marshes, plains, and rolling hills. The main attractions of Jordan are the ancient city of Petra, Bedouin culture, Wadi Rum, Byzantine mosaics, and nature reserves. Hiking is popular and the Dana Nature Reserve and the Wadi Feynan are highly recommended. Hiking and climbing in the desert of the Wadi Rum are also highlights. Bird watching is quite popular. The racetrack in Tuneib offers polo matches along with horse and camel races in the spring and summer.

Art and music play a strong role in Jordanian culture. The country is a haven for artists from surrounding countries. The Jordan Museum is the largest museum in the country and contains many archaeological finds.

Football is the country’s most popular sport with rugby increasing in popularity. There are also a few local basketball teams and a national team. Downtown Amman has a new skate park. Cycling is becoming more widespread especially among the youth.

Dead Sea

Shopping

Shopping hours are daily except on Fridays, the Muslim Sabbath. However, some stores may be open at lunch time on Fridays and the smaller souks may open at other times on Friday, as well. Madaba rugs, leather work, glass, wood inlay, straw goods, embroidery, baskets, mother-of-pearl, bronze, pottery, olive wood carvings, spices, silver work and other jewelry, etchings, Hebron glass, and Dead Sea products are popular buys. Bargaining in the souks is expected. There are many gold and silver shops in Amman; it is important to note that the price is by weight. The West section of Amman is lined with upscale shopping malls.

Foods and Restaurants

There is a limited variety of international cuisine, mostly found at deluxe hotels and resorts. However, the traditional Arab food is well-seasoned, quite tasty, and often cooked over an open-pit. Typical foods include hummus, kebabs, musakham (a chicken dish based on Arabic bread, yogurt), the national dish of mansaf (yogurt, rice, and lamb), unleavened bread, maglouba (a fish or meat stew), and assorted desserts (baklava, hareeseh, knafeh, halva, and qatayef). Apricots and figs are worth a try as well as the olives. Jordan is one of the world’s largest producers of olives and olive oil, so it is no wonder that olive oil is the main cooking oil. The Turkish coffee, mint tea, and the alcoholic drink arak made from aniseed and grapes are also popular.

There is a growing nightlife (bars and discos) in Amman, Aqaba, and Irbid with alcohol widely available in tourist restaurants, liquor stores, and even some supermarkets.

Etiquette

Although Islamic, Jordan is seen as being less strict than many of the nearby nations. As a visitor, it is important to be on time to show good manners. Handshakes are common between members of the same sex; use the right hand only. If you greet a member of the opposite sex, do not touch when greeting. If someone introduces you with a title and then their surname, use the title in response. Otherwise, Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. is appropriate and the last name of the individual. Expect social gatherings to convene at later hours and don’t discuss business when merely socializing. The Jordanian people’s body language may be different from yours; they stand closer to one another when speaking. It is also customary for males to touch one another on the arm while talking, but males don’t touch females when conversing.

There are several behaviors to avoid: do not point at others, don’t use the “thumbs up” gesture, and don’t use your left hand when passing items. When sitting, don’t show the sole of your foot as this is considered insulting. Also, when crossing your legs, do so only at the ankle. When entering a mosque or someone’s house, remember to take off your shoes. Gift giving is welcomed but avoid giving alcohol or anything related to women (photos and sculpture). Don’t discuss politics especially the neighboring country of Israel.

Safety

There is a low rate of crime throughout the country, however, it is still important to be cautious especially at night. If you are traveling near the country’s borders, stay near the main tourist areas as there are still some unexplored mines, although most of these are closed off and marked.

The sanitary conditions in the country are generally good. 98% of households and businesses have sanitation and clean water. It is advised to peel any raw fruits and vegetables before eating. Also, ensure that any meat is cooked thoroughly and avoid the local dairy products and the tap water. If you are venturing out into the desert, make sure to bring enough bottled water for your time duration.

In the summer, there can be a lot of mosquitos so use repellent. You don’t need to worry about malaria. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are recommended as the sun can be very hot.

The dry climate may aggravate someone who has asthma. There are excellent dental and medical facilities in Amman. The country is the region’s top medical tourism destination and fifth overall in the world. It is the hub for natural treatment methods in Ma’in Hot Springs and the Dead Sea.

As a precaution, you may need to take a typhoid medication prior to coming into the country.

Dress

It is best to dress modestly in public. For women, that means loose and not too revealing outfits that cover the arms and legs. For men, pants and shirts with sleeves are suggested. Casual clothes along with shorts and swimsuits are acceptable at the beach and tourist resorts.

Money, Banking, and Tipping

The Jordanian dinar (JD) is the national currency. Money is exchanged at any number of banks in Amman and most tourist areas, or there are ATM machines in the larger cities and hotels for your convenience. Credit cards are welcome at most stores and restaurants except at the smaller shops or souks. Banks are generally open Saturday through Thursdays from 8:30-12:30 p.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m. except during the Ramadan holiday.

A sales tax of 17% is added to most services. However, in Aqaba, the sales tax is lower, at 7%.

A 10% tip is normally included in hotel and restaurant bills. At well-to-do restaurants, customers should round up the bill. If eating in a budget-friendly restaurant, tips are not necessary.

A 10% tip is customary for taxi drivers and slightly less for other service jobs (e.g., porters).

Passports, Visas, Departure Tax, and Registering

Canadians and U.S. citizens need visas in addition to passports for their stay in Jordan. You can obtain a visa from the Jordanian embassy when in Jordan or you can purchase one at most border crossings (except the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge at West Bank or if crossing by ferry from Egypt). You can also secure one at the airport upon arrival.

If you plan to stay in Jordan longer than 2 weeks, you need to register with the local police. Otherwise, when you depart from Jordan, you will be administered a fine. There is a customary departure tax for everyone who leaves Jordan and it is usually part of the airline ticket price.

It is advised to reconfirm your travel arrangements before departing.

Transportation

The main airport, Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport, is 20 mi/30 km south of the city. Taxis and rental cars are available from the airport. Taxis are relatively inexpensive and even less when shared. They can be hired by the distance (hourly rate), half-day or a full day.

Royal Wings offers daily flights between Amman and Aqaba.

There is a ferry service between Aqaba and Nuweiba, Egypt.

There are several highways that run north and south from Amman to Aqaba: the King’s Highway, the Dead Sea Road, and the Desert Highway. The roads are generally well-marked.

You can rent a car or take a local bus or private bus throughout the country.

Additional Facts to Know

Although most Jordanians are accepting and friendly, you might experience some anti-Western sentiments; it is best to politely ignore.

Don’t take photos of native people without asking. Like other Middle Eastern countries, be cautious of taking pictures of women or the military, bridges, and areas that may denote poverty.

Don’t criticize the king or royal family in public as this is considered a serious offense.

Despite there being coin-operated phones available throughout most of the country, cell phones are mostly used. There is good coverage.

Internet cafes with moderate charges are your best bet for internet services; deluxe hotels have high-speed broadband connections that are quite expensive. The smaller hotels and tourist areas offer free Wi-Fi.

The local carrier Aramex tends to be expensive; FedEx and DHL have offices in Amman. The general mail service, although reliable, may take a few weeks to get a letter or package from Jordan to Canada or the U.S.

The Jordan Times is published Monday through Saturday. The “What’s On” section is helpful to find out happenings in Jordan (go to: http://www.jordantimes.com). There are also two free magazines available in most hotels and restaurants that list happenings and fun information about living in Jordan: W2GO and Jordan Today. W2GO usually has a selection of discount vouchers for nightlife and restaurants.

For More Information

There is a tourist office in Jordan and also in the United States:

Jordan: Jordan Tourism Board, P.O. Box 830688, Annan, Jordan 11183. Phone 6-567-8444. Fax 6-567-8295. Go to: http://www.visitjordan.com

United States: Jordan Tourism Board, 6867 Elm St., Suite 102, McLean, VA 22101. Phone 703-243-7404. Toll-free 877-733-5673. Fax 703-243-7406. Go to: http://www.visitjordan.com

There is a Canadian Embassy and U.S. Embassy of Jordan as well as foreign embassies in Jordan:

Canadian:

Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, 100 Bronson Ave., Suite 701, Ottawa, ON K1R 6G8. Phone 613-238-8090. Fax 613-232-3341. Go to: http://www.ewmbassyofjordan.ca

Canadian Embassy, Pearl of Shmeisani Building, Shmeisani, Fourth Floor, Amman 11180. Phone 6-520-3300. Fax ­6-520-3396.

United States:

Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, 3504 International Drive N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008. Phone 202-966-2664. Fax 202-966-3110. Go to: http://www.jordanembassyus.org

United States Embassy, P.O. Box 354, Amman, Jordan 11118. Phone 6-590-6000. Fax 6-592-0121. Go to: https://jo.usembassy.gov/