Monday, 6 November 2017

JORDAN: Amman, Alcohol Sold Freely, Invitation Means You Bring Nothing But Eat Everything

Souks of Amman
Amman is the capital and largest city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with a population of more than four million.

Amman forms a great base for exploring not just Jordan, but the wider region as well and does, despite popular belief, offer much that is of interest to the traveller.

The city is generally reasonably well-organized, enjoys great weather for much of the year and the people are very friendly.

Although Amman can be difficult to penetrate at first sight, the city holds many surprises for the visitor. Visit Amman's Roman Amphitheatre, its many art galleries or the newly opened Jordan Museum, while an afternoon away on a chic cafe terrace, take a course in the University of Jordan or stay in luxurious hotels and dine on the region's varied and delicious cuisine.

Modern shopping malls are increasingly abundant in Jordan but open air souqs are what many travellers will remember most.

Amman is experiencing a massive and or reckless change from a quiet sleepy village to a bustling metropolis, some of whose neighbourhoods seem bent on wanting to imitate Dubai.

Amman's roads have a reputation of being very steep and narrow in some of parts of the city but the city has state of the art highways and paved avenues. The steep terrain and heavy traffic remains challenging for pedestrians and for the rare cyclist.

New resorts and hotels dot the city and there are many things for the traveler to see and do in and around Amman.

A hilly city built of white stone, Amman's growth has skyrocketed since it was made the capital of Trans-Jordan in the early 1920s, but especially after the 1948 and 1967 wars with Israel when hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees settled in Amman.

Another wave arrived after the second Iraq war, with Iraqi refugees forming the majority of newcomers. As of 2011, large numbers of Syrians have made Amman their home.

Its history, however, goes back many millennia. The settlement mentioned in the Bible as Rabbath Ammon was the capital of the Ammonites, which later fell to the Assyrians.

It was dominated briefly by the Nabataeans before it became a great Roman trade centre and was renamed Philadelphia.

After the Islamic conquests, Amman became part of the Muslim empire and experienced a slow decline, until the Ottomans were forced out by the Allies, with the help of the Hashemites, who formed a monarchy that continues to rule until the present.

Today, West Amman is a lively, modern city. The eastern part of the city, where the majority of Amman's residents live, is predominantly the residential area of the working class and is much older than the west.

While possessing few sites itself, Amman makes a comfortable base from which to explore the northwestern parts of the country.

Many Jordanians understand English to some level, particularly the middle classes of West Amman and those people working in the tourism industry. Charmingly, the most commonly known English phrase is Welcome to Jordan.

The only non-Arabic language used in signposting is English, and you will find "Tourist Police" near the major monuments.

It is always good to know a few useful phrases and to come prepared with a translation book, or to have the names and addresses of places you are going written in Arabic for use with a taxi driver.

The main airport serving Amman is Queen Alia International Airport, situated about 30 km (18.64 mi) south of Amman. Much smaller is Amman Civil Airport, a one-terminal airport that serves primarily domestic and nearby international routes and the army.

Queen Alia International Airport is the major international airport in Jordan and the hub for Royal Jordanian, the flag carrier.

Its expansion was recently done and modified, including the decommissioning of the old terminals and the commissioning of new terminals costing $700M, to handle over 16 million passengers annually.

It is now considered a state-of-the-art airport and was rewarded the best airport in the Middle East for 2014 and 2015 and the best improvement in the Middle East for 2014 by Airport Service Quality Survey, the world's leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark program.

Most travellers to Amman and to Jordan will arrive via Queen Alia International Airport, the two old terminals have now been replaced with a spacious, state of the art Norman Foster designed terminal (March 2013).

Very occasionally, regional or charter flights use Marka Airport, centrally located in east Amman a few kilometres beyond the railway station.

For most western visitors, entry visas to Jordan can be purchased at the airport, if not already obtained from a Jordanian consulate overseas.

The price of a visa is JOD40 (€42/USD56), payable in Jordanian dinars only; at the immigration line you will pay for the visa at the first counter, and then pass through to the second counter to receive the stamp.

Money exchange is available before passport control and a single ATM ,please be aware of the USD7 exchange commission, more ATMs are available after customs.

Only take out enough from that ATM to get through customs or convert currency. For US cards, the ATM will automatically convert your money to US dollars and tacks a 5% fee onto its withdrawal fee,it doesn't ask you if you want to convert, it just does it.

On a withdrawal of JOD250, the ATM fees cost this user USD17 more than using an Arab Bank ATM.

From Queen Alia to Amman city proper, the two best options are to either take a taxi or an Airport Express bus. Taxi transportation from the airport to Amman should cost around JOD20 (€21/USD28).

Airport taxi fares are fixed and you should get a piece of paper from the taxi stand controller which sets the price of the trip.

Note that the fare is only fixed from airport to city, taxi driver might try to secure a ride from you from the city back to the airport, often with an inflated price.

The Airport Express bus runs 06:00-18:00 every 30 minutes (both ways), from 18:00 to 23:59 every 60 minutes (both ways) and costs JOD3.25 buy tickets from official kiosk. It leaves from a marked bus stop right outside the Terminal building.

The trip from the airport to Tabarbour bus station in Amman, with a stop at the 7th Circle, usually takes from 45 minutes to an hour.

It is then possible to catch a taxi from the bus station to your hotel but beware of taxis drivers trying to rip off the newly arrived traveler and insist on using the meter.

Fair taxi fares for the trip between 7th circle and 1st circle,straight route west-east along Zahran road should be JOD2, but beware, drivers may try to take a detour northwards to the city centre.

The bus service is available during the whole day and night with a bus leaving the Tabarbour station in direction of the airport every one hour, but best check at the ticket office upon arrival to Amman airport.

If going from Tabarbour back to the airport, the taxi drivers there will most definitely try to convince you that there is no night bus to the airport, that the last night bus to the airport just left, that the bus to the airport goes just after your flight, that the buses don't exist in Jordan etc.

Once the clearly marked yellow bus arrives, they might even try to make the bus driver convince you he's not going to the airport anymore. Ignore them, although this might be the most challenging thing to do during your visit.

The airport bus stop at the 7th circle, less than 100m south of the circle. The small yellow airport express labelled bus is easily recognized and the driver will also stop on other places if you wave him.

From there take a taxi to the place you're going and insist on using the meter. You should rarely pay more than JOD2-4.

To reach the 7th circle from downtown take bus 41 or any headed to Wadi As-Seir and ask to be dropped of at Dawaar As-Saabe'a (7th circle).

There are, of course, rent-a-car stations in Amman and at Queen Alia International Airport as well.

Tabarbour bus station GPS coordinate: N31°59'41.28", E 35°55'10.92". Right next to the big highway interchange.

Abdali bus station GPS: N31°57'36.37" E35°55'1.82"

JETT bus station is located near to the King Abdullah I Mosque. It is possible to walk from there, for example, to the Roman Theatre, within about 40 minutes all downhill. Buses leave either in front of the ticket office, or from the big parking lot in the side street.

There is one daily JETT bus from JETT's offices in Abdali to Petra.

The new bus station is called Tabarbour Bus Station and is in the Northern fringes of Amman. Most of the buses to the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge and the various cities Ajloun, Jerash, Irbid in Northern Jordan leave from here.

To get there from downtown, take Servees - A sedan car that works like a bus #6 from Raghadan Tourist Service Station or Raghadan Al Seyaha which is located right next to the Colosseum. The Tabarbour Bus Station is the last stop on the Servees route.

There are numerous buses pulling into the city of Amman, most of which are operated by JETT (Jordan Express Tourist Transport). The JETT bus to/from the Israel border bridge costs JOD7.5 and takes about 1 hour.

However JETT maintains offices in Abdali station and many routes are served from there, including the Amman-Petra daily bus, cost JOD9.5 one way and departing at 06:30.

Return bus from Petra departs at 16:00. Amman-King Hussein Border Pass to Palestine is served also by a daily bus.

Local public minibuses are available from Tabarbour bus station to the city of Jerash until afternoon daily, but not on Fridays. Buses leave when they are full. The price is exactly JOD 1.0 one way. Service taxis run on Fridays instead JOD 2.5.

The bus stops 50m from the south entrance of the ancient Acropolis and departs again when it is full exactly from the opposite direction.

There are two operators one of them called Challenge, each providing two daily services from Damascus (Sumariya-Terminal) into Amman for SYP500 (SYP50 student discount). Times tend to change a bit, but they leave around 07:30, 08:30, 14:30 and 15:30.

The tour takes typically about 4 to 5 hours, but can be longer depending on border formalities. The Challenge buses still arrive in Abdali.

From the bus station, you can take a taxi to the city centre. As a guide, it should not cost more than 2 JD on the meter from the bus station to most places in town, so either go by the meter, or pay a maximum of 2 JD.

When using yellow taxis insist that the driver uses the meter which starts at (0,25JD, 0,35JD in the evening) and it is the most affordable way for taxi travel inside the city.

Taxi drivers are obliged to use the meter and will lose their license if they don't. So insist on using it! The word for meter is the same in English as it is in Arabic.

Be wary of the private cars posing as taxis around the bus stands. They would offer their services asking you to pay as much as you want but later on insist on pocketing more money from you.

In case you get one, insist paying the standard price which should not be more than JOD2. Anything more than JOD2 is a rip-off.

There are 2 Raghadan stations in Amman, the one near the Roman Theatre which is relevant to most tourists, is Raghadan Al Seyaha, make sure you tell the taxi driver this otherwise you will wind up at the wrong Raghadan station.

Train operator in Jordan: HJR or Hedjaz Jordan Railway check seat61 for details.Train excursions run occasionally, as do local services to Zarqa. Neither operate more often than once per week, if at all.

Amman's tiny, charming railway station (Mahatta) with its museum is worth a look even if you do not or cannot take a train.

A taxi to/from the Palestinian/Israeli border crossing bridge called King Hussain/Allenby can cost 25 JD and takes one hour.

Negotiate the price with the driver and its likely possible to pay 20JD. You may also take the white service taxi for 6JD per person. The taxi leaves when it's full and will drop you off anywhere you want to go in Amman.

It's important to note that although Amman is a capital city, it probably seems a lot less organized than most European or US cities.

It has experienced extremely fast growth since it was named the capital almost a century ago,mainly due to independence, palestinian refugees, after the Oslo accords, etc).

You'll find a lot of inconsistencies in naming of landmarks, directions you're given, as well as the general user friendliness of the city.

As an example, you'll probably find that any street called King Hussein street will be referred to as something else by the locals/on signposts due to recent renaming.

In terms of direction finding, your best bet is to spend a little time to learn the locations of:

- the 8 circles or roundabouts of Zahran Street

- the districts of Amman

- the hills (or Jebels)

The Circles refer to the traffic circles on Zahran Street that lead West from Downtown Amman,near the Citadel. The higher the circle number, the more westerly you are.

Most of Amman's non-residential development has been west of downtown so these are useful for tourists. Also they're actually reasonably well signposted.

The districts are less well-defined but in general are bounded by the larger roads. Most taxi drivers ought to know, for example, that when you ask for Shmeisani, you mean the general area bounded by Queen Noor St, Queen Alia Street and Arar Street.

Likewise, Abdali is mostly the area of new development immediately east of Shmeisani.

The Jebels or Hills of Amman are like Rome the original 7 hills that made up the city. The city is much bigger than these hills but the districts retain the names. So Jebel Webdeh is the hill West of downtown topped by Paris Circle.

There are several car rental companies located in Jordan. Some will even give you a driver for free if you book a car rental with them.

Stations are available at Queen Alia International Airport, downtown Amman and in Aqaba. In case of any problems with your car, it's advisable to choose a bigger company with several branches like in Amman and Aqaba. Then you have a better chance to receive faster road assistance or a replacement vehicle.

Car Rental company branches within Amman city

Avis - next to Intercontinental, Zahran street, between 2nd and 3rd circle

Europcar - at Kempinski Hotel, Shmeisani

Payless car rental - slightly better price, branch at Holiday Inn and Le Meridien Hotel

If you decide to take a rental car, make sure you have an extra liability insurance for your car. This is a very important point, because the standard liability insurance (LI) covers car damage to approx. $7,000 and personal injury up to $17,000.

Don't forget to add the extra liablity insurance during the booking process. It usually covers liablity claims up to $ 1 Mio. Otherwise you may have to pay the full amount of damage or personal injury at yourself. And this could ruin your life.

If you're driving much in the city, it's important to note that many of the streets do not have lane markings, and rules of the road seem to be based more on convention than actual laws.

Stay slow and move to the right to let faster cars through. That said, drivers don't seem to be all that aggressive.

Even though you'll hear a lot of car horns these seem to be part of the normal etiquette, instead of signifying road rage as they would in Europe.

A good example is that the traffic lights often cannot be seen by the first few cars waiting at them, so drivers further back in the queue will use their car horns to let the front cars know when the lights have turned green.

Stop signs don't seem to mean that you need to stop regardless, locals treat them as you would a yield sign.Although probably don't copy them if a traffic cop is nearby.

Local cars are a little old and badly-maintained. Don't rely on someone's brake lights to be functioning, just keep alert and you should be fine.

Pedestrians don't really look around and locals in particular seem to cross roads fairly recklessly. Not just adults, kids too, so watch out.

Signage is variable. On the one hand, almost all signage on major roads is printed in both arabic script and roman script.

However, one thing that people who can't read arabic script seem to have trouble with is the differing transcriptions. Arabic is mostly a spoken language with many local variants. So the same arabic word may have many possible transliterations Eg. Muhammad, Mohamed, Mohamet, Mahamet.

This can mean that your map might say Karak but your guide says Al-Karak and the road signs say Al-Kerak. If in doubt, saying the words out loud might help.

Yellow and grey taxis are readily available and can be easily found anywhere in Amman. Just hail them in the street as Jordanians do. Taxis for Amman will have a green logo on the driver and passenger doors.

The grey ones have an advertisement on top of the car. Resist hailing cabs with another color logo; these cabs are based in other cities and it is illegal for them to pick up fares in Amman.

White taxis or servees are shared, and they have a specific route that they move along back and forth like buses, which means they don't necessarily drop you off at your exact destination, and the driver can pick up other fares along the way.

Yellow taxis in Amman are required by law to use meters and most drivers will reset the meter as soon as a fare is picked up.

Most trips within Amman should be under JD2 or JD3, at most a ride from one end of town to the other should not cost more than JD5.

Taxis are required to use meters all the time,but with a base rate of JD 0.3 instead of JD 0.25 and 40% higher rate from 22:00 till 07:00. Beware of drivers offering to give you a short ride for free as a "Welcome to Jordan", especially if you're walking between the Citadel and the Roman Theatre.

They will then offer to wait for you to take you to your next stop, and will use the free ride as an excuse not to start the meter. They will then charge you exorbitantly when you arrive at your next stop.

Drivers are not normally tipped, instead the fare is simply rounded up to the nearest 5 or 10 piasters. It should be noted that many drivers do not carry much change, so exact change should be given when possible.

If a driver is pretending he has no change, it is likely that he just wants to keep it, so that you'll have to pay more. If you mind this, ask the driver to find a nearby shop and get change or get the change yourself from a shop.

If you don't mind being rude, look into their money box to find the change yourself.

The going, negotiated rate for a taxi from Amman to the airport is JD20 or more, although some drivers can be talked down to JD15 or even JD 10 which would be close to the metered rate.

All taxis are allowed to take passengers to the airport; only special Airport Taxis may take passengers from the airport into town.

If you are visiting the Citadel, call it al-Qala'a. It's best to be dropped off at the Citadel and walk down the hill to the Roman theatre.

Service or white taxies are leaving when they are full from Tabarbour bus station to King Hussein Bridge boarder crossing with Israel. The proper line of the taxis is in Arabic but its easy to spot them by the King Hussein Bridge logo in their side doors.

A yellow metered taxi ride from city centre at Roman Amphitheatre to West Amman (Royal Auto-mobile Museum-City Mall) will cost you apx 3.5JD.

Big, municipal buses serve many parts of Amman. They are used by low-income workers, working-class youth and foreign workers, but are perfectly safe. As of April 2017, the fare was JOD 0.40. Pay the exact fare or overpay; bus drivers have no change!

You can also load a bus fare cash card with a few Jordanian dinar and swipe the card past a reader as you enter the bus, but places to buy and recharge the card are rare. Most buses are numbered; some display their destination in Arabic only.

Bus no. 26 conveniently travels between the old town (Balad) and the 7th Circle along Zahran Street. No. 27 goes from the old town towards the posh Abdoun neighbourhood. No. 443 passes near Shmeisani as does no. 46 and continues along Mecca Street towards Mecca Mall.

Many bus stops are marked by bus shelters, but buses also drop passengers at unmarked spots wherever it is safe to stop. Private minibuses shadow the municipal buses.

They do not display route numbers, but a conductor usually shouts out their destination. Both cases, bus drivers rarely know the names of station and tourist attractions in English. A map of the most common buses can be found online.

There exists also an app: You can type in your starting and destination point and it will give you the possibilites of public services you can use.

You can visit the fascinating Roman Theatre and Nymphaeum, that reflect the historic legacy of the city, and the enchanting Citadel which has stood since the ancient times of the Ammonites.

Or enjoy a leisurely stroll through the King Hussein Park and visit the Automobile Museum, which contains the late King Hussein's car collection, or the Children's Museum.

Jabal Amman 1st Circle Walking Trail is also interesting, with its coffee shops and grand traditional villas. A leaflet with a route description is available from the Wild Jordan Cafe.

If it's shopping you're after, then the pedestrian Wakalat shopping district offers a wide selection of international brand names to choose from.

For a more exotic and traditional experience you can visit the old city centre, also known as the Balad, and take in the traditional sights and smells of the spice market and shop for authentic souvenirs.

Amman isn't exactly a pedestrian-friendly city. In fact it's almost exactly the opposite of that. It's hilly, there are no pavements,if there are the kerbs are like a foot high, so no wheelchairs, there are no pedestrian crossings if there are they tend to be ignored, and the streets are labyrinthine.

Yet what better way to get a genuine feel for life here. Use a decent map or chat to the locals, who will endlessly and cheerfully offer you help to get to where you want to go.

Just be prepared for bustle, watch for traffic, and be prepared to not reach your destination on time. As long as you take things easy you should have a wonderful experience of life in an Arab city.

If you're not a Muslim, marvel at how easy it suddenly becomes to get around the city when the muezzin call to prayer goes out. For 15 minutes at least, until the chaos starts again.

Although the capital of a diverse kingdom, Amman is not what one would call packed with things to see, making it a great gateway to explorations further afield. Even so, the city does hold a few items of historical and cultural interest.

Please allow about 2 days to see them all.

- The Roman Theatre. Entrance of JOD1 also covers the folklore museum and popular culture museum.

- A Roman -era Nymphaeum

- An Ammonite
-era watchtower

Jordan Museum (closed Tuesdays. 10:00-15:30, foreigners 5 JD) - Modern, large building in the centre of Amman. The ground floor has an exhibition of the history of Jordan from paleolithic times to the Byzantine.

Paleolithic is on the right, go round counter-clockwise through the Greek Hellenistic and Roman to the Byzantine. Up one level to see some photographs from the Great Arab Revolt (1916) that marked the end of the Ottoman era.

- Royal Automobile Museum closed Tuesdays

- National Art Gallery closed Tuesdays and Fridays

- the Citadel (Jabal al-Qal'a) - located in the centre of both ancient and modern Amman.

- the Temple of Hercules - Roman period remains

- the Byzantine Church - dating to the 5th-6th centuries

- the Ummayad Palace - situated in the northern portion of the Citadel, entrance JD2. Offers a great view of Amman.
the National Archaeological Museum - situated on the Citadel, the museum is a small but interesting collection of antiquities from all over Jordan.

Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls which used to be housed here are now being transferred to the new National Museum of Jordan.

Darat al Funun or 'small house of the arts' in Jabal el Weibdeh, overlooking the heart of Amman, is housed in three adjacent villas from the 1920s and the remains of a sixth-century Byzantine church built over a Roman Temple, it has a permanent collection and also holds changing exhibitions.

In the same area there are other small art galleries and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.

Rainbow St. near the 1st Circle in Jabal Amman is an interesting area to walk around and explore, it is named after the old Rainbow Cinema which is now out of use, but the area has been recently experiencing a revival with many of the old houses being restored and put into use.

In the area there are some cafes and bars including Books@cafe and Wild Jordan both with great views, a Hammam, the Royal Film Commission which sometimes holds outdoor screenings on its patio and some interesting small shops.

Across the street from the British Council on Rainbow St., there is the refreshing Turtle Green Tea Bar where everything is in English and you can borrow a laptop to access the internet while enjoying your snack. Most places there offer free Wi-Fi, yet expect to pay JOD3.5 for a cup of coffee.

The cultural scene in Amman has seen some increased activities, notably cultural centres and clubs such as Makan House, Al Balad Theater, the Amman Filmmakers Cooperative, Remall, and Zara gallery. Around the 1st of September the Jordan Short Film Festival takes place.

View Amman, View Amman occupies a ground floor corner in Amman city hall in Ras Al-Ain, in the middle of the cultural hub of the city and in close proximity to city centre. Sa-Th 08:00-15:00. View Amman provides information on today’s planning efforts.

It’s the first permanent exhibition space dedicated to the future of the city’s architecture documenting major development across this city, it demonstrated here and now, both the existing chaotic urban form that Amman is draped over , and highlighting the forthcoming major development in the city.

Exhibited articles are:
•6x8m model of Amman that covers 99 square kilometres from Amman and spreading from the city centre highlighting existing landmarks.

•Narrating Amman exhibition

•Children's corner

•King Abdullah II house of culture and art.

Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Hosni Fareez St., Amman, Jordan Near the King Abdullah I Mosque. Summer: 9:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. Winter: 9:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. Everyday except Tuesdays and Fridays. The Gallery is closed on Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Christmas and New Years. Working hours during Ramadan from 9:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m.

Collection of temporary arts from the 1970s to 2012, mainly artists from Arabic areas - Tunisia, Maroc, Palestinian territories, and Jordan.

The museum consists of two buildings, three floors each, which are located face to face on a oval park. The park features sculptures. The ticket 5 JD, valid for both buildings.

Jordan Museum, Ali Bin Abi Taleb St 10, Amman 11183, Jordan. Closed Tuesday.. Much history taking you through different ages of Jordan's civilizations. Material as old as 25k BC collected from Jordanian territory on display. Very well displayed. JOD 5 entry fees for foreigners. 1-2 hours. 5JD.

It is highly advisable to see the sunset from the view point near the Citadel. But pay also your attention to the time of the muezzin call. If you listen to it from the view point, where the whole city lies before you, you get the unforgettable acoustic impression.

Due to accelerated growth the past several decades, the styles of living differs considerably as one travels from east to west throughout Amman.

Visitors desiring to experience Old Amma should explore the central downtown, or Balad, which features numerous souqs, shops, and street vendors.

Besides touring the city, shopping is also advisable for the traveler.

Nightlife in Amman has grown tremendously over the past few years and probably comes right behind neighbouring Beirut and Tel Aviv in the region, there are now quite a few trendy clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in mostly West Amman that you should make an effort to check out.

Abdali, a section of downtown Amman, is being transformed into a modern center for tourists and natives alike. The plan includes a broad pedestrian boulevard where visitors can shop, eat, or do numerous other activities. New office buildings and residential hi-rises are being constructed.

Climbat Amman Climbat Indoor Climbing Center.

Amman has numerous antique dealers littered throughout the city. Those located in the western parts of the city will most likely be serviced by those with a competent grasp of the English language, but you run the risk of the items being a bit overpriced.

For the more adventurous, some of the best tourist shopping can be done in downtown Amman at the Balad. Shopping in the Balad has a more authentic feel with shop after shop filled with wares and negotiable prices.

Original souvenir items that you may consider taking home are:

- Keffiyeh, the traditional checkered headpiece of Jordanian men an antique brass tea/coffee pot, distinctly Middle Eastern with its artistic etching and curved spout.

- Olive wood carvings of various objects or figures can be purchase nearly everywhere

- Hand-crafted Jordanian daggers

- Hand-made Bedouin-style embroidered clothing

- Dead Sea products

Those who crave gourmet coffee have a number of choices along Rainbow St. off of First Circle in Jabal Amman with other shops sprinkled throughout the city.

Alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, liquor, etc., can be purchased in liquor stores across the city. Most are distinguishable by an advertisement for Amstel or some like beverage outside.

There are also bars up and down Rainbow St. in Jabal Amman and throughout Abdoun. Drinking age is 18 but some bars/cafes might card you and admit 21+ customers only.

Abdali Boulevard, is the the new downtown of Amman, it's a picturesque boulevard with mixed use buildings, for shopping, restaurants and entertainment. It is part of Al_Abdali project.

The Balad The grungy, busy downtown area is the old heart of the city which is enjoying something of a resurgence and is a must-visit for every traveller.

Take a walk through the narrow alleyways and corners and negotiate or haggle the price with friendly vendors. A maze of streets with everything from a fruit market to spices, souvenirs, clothes, hardware.

Drink a cool glass of Sugar Cane juice, watch the talented young men make artistic sand designs inside the glass bottles, go and smoke a shisha or hubbly bubbly in any of the numerous street cafes.

Enjoy some tasty falafel in the famous Hashem cafe, enjoy a mansaf dish at Jerusalem restaurant or a nice slice of tasty Kanafe from Habibeh sweets. Busy crowded streets with the real taste of Jordan.

Visit the Husseini Mosque, Darwish Mosque, Roman Theatre, Citadel, spice markets, or if adventurous have a wander around the Friday Bird and animal market and the second hand market on a Friday morning.

Walk to Rainbow street and enjoy a different side of Amman. Visit the Duke of Mukhybeh's residence on the main street. Lot's of small cafes and roof terraces to enjoy the atmosphere. Visit the new Museum or catch a music recital or performance at the Hussain Culture Centre.

Abdali Market - a large outdoor market that is open on Thursday night until Friday afternoon. It draws thousands of visitors each week, sells second-hand clothing and shoes with real interesting bargains to be found if you know how to look and how to haggle, in addition to vegetables and fruits.

Malls - City Mall is currently Jordan's biggest shopping mall. All the usual international brands are present.

Taj Mall in Abdoun is the new mall in town and is probably the most upmarket one while Mecca Mall,another big mall on Mecca Street, has more of a common feel to it.

Baraka Mall in Sweifiyeh is small but has a good multiplex cinema and the ABC department store for those seeking indulgence and the odd 500$ to spare - all designer names. Majdi Mall is more of a neighbourhood mall - located near University of Jordan towards Sweileh.

Wakalat Street A newly pedestrianised street in Sweifieh with big western stores, mostly clothes such as Zara and Gap. A traffic free street with open areas for sitting and walking and some restaurants and cafes for people watching.

Shari' Al-Rainbow - Rainbow Street - A cobblestone street that winds its way down from First Circle.

Has something of a European feel to it and is populated with small antique stores, clothing, restaurants, cafes, bars, sheesha tea shops and the well-known Falafel al-Quds, reputedly the best Falafel in the Middle East.

Further down the street you will find a small park that overlooks the city. Further still on a side street, during the warmer months, is a side-walk flea market - Jara Marker. At the end of this street and down some stairs you will find Wild Jordan.

The Royal Film Commission is also located on this street and it has an extensive film collection that is open to the public.

Amman features many different styles of restaurants, from traditional Middle Eastern fare to more familiar Western fast food and franchises. Prices range from ultra-cheap to moderate, depending on one's taste buds. For those on a budget, Arabic food is very affordable and can be obtained everywhere.

Ammani cuisine is a product of several cuisines in the region, it combines the bright vegetables from Lebanon, crunchy falafels from Syria, juicy kebabs from Egypt and, most recently, spicy meat dishes from Jordan's neighbor, Iraq.

It's known as the food of the Levant — an ancient word for the area bounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian peninsula.

But the food isn't just the sum of its calories. In this politically, religiously and ethnically fraught corner of the world, it is a symbol of bloodlines and identity.However, the city's streetfood scene makes the Ammani cuisine distinctive.

Arabic food generally consists of several general basic groups. Meat dishes will generally consist of lamb or chicken; beef is more rare and pork is never offered.

Shwarma, which is cooked lamb meat with a special sauce rolled in piece of flat bread, is a local favorite. Rice and flat bread are typical sides to any meal. Jordan's speciality, mansaf, is a delicious lamb and rice meal, typically eaten with one's hands.

Arabs serve plenty of cucumbers and tomatoes, many times accompanied by a plain white yoghurt condiment. Another favorite is chick pea-based foods such as falafel, hummus, and fuul.

One of Amman's most famous local foods restaurant is Hashem, located in down-town Amman and you can have a lunch or dinner there for no more than 1.500 JD which is very low compared to other restaurants in Amman.

This restaurant is one of the favourites of the Royal family and you will see a lot of photographs of the Royal family of Jordan dining at this restaurant.

Nearby, there is Habeebah, which serves traditional east Mediterranean sweets such as baklava, but is most famous for serving a traditional dessert known as knafeh nabelseyyeh in reference to its origin from the Palestinian city of Nables.

The allegedly best shawerma in Amman is found in the street-side kiosk called Shawermat Reem, at the 2nd Circle. It is very famous and there are even lines at 2 a.m. It is a must to eat from this place and is very cheap.

Lebnani snack is a great place to eat Middle Eastern sandwiches, delicious ice cream and cocktails.

La Maison Verte - impressive french restaurant, with excellent food and excellent ambience. A must go to place. Moderate to pricey, but it's worth it; the atmosphere alone is worth it, it's quite fancy yet very cozy. Their house specialities include "Entrecote", various steaks and a variety of sea food.

Levant is a very comfortable restaurant with excellent service, excellent English and excellent food. They serve gourmet Arabic food, which means fresh local ingredients in surprising and delicious combinations. They are located in Jabal Amman, 3rd Circle Behind Le Royal Hotel.

Cantaloupe - is a fairly trendy restaurant and cocktail bar with terrace impressively overlooking the city. Salads and fish are good, steaks are excellent. Regional and local wines are remarkably good. Service is excellent and unobtrusive. A little loud as the evening progresses.

Fakhr al Din 40 Taha Hussein, st Jabal,when going from 1st to 2nd circle, turn right after the Iraqi embassy. Following that, turn right at the end of this street, go past the lot on your left and then turn left again.

Fakhr al Din is written in Arabic on the wall of last building on the block. A real classical of Amman's Lebanese-oriented restaurant. Quite pricey but worth it, especially if you're in the terrace on a warm evening.

For local wine, try their Gerasa red wine. Reservation highly advised. Cost is around 15 to 30jd for a complete meal. Great place, but beware of waiters who deliver unordered food to your table. Don't accept anything you don't order.

Kan Zaman - impressive medieval castle on a hilltop turned into a beautiful restaurant. The place is worth the visit. The food is pretty basic but ok. Ask for their local Kan Zaman red wine.

Prices are not proportional to the size of the hall. It's a bit difficult to get there as it is around 10 km south of amman. On the highway to the airport, you'll see a sign. Leave the highway, go under the bridge and follow the small road.

Noodasia - my treat. Nothing to do with Arabic food though, as the menu handles the whole map of asia, from Thailand to China, through Japan good sushis and Indonesia. Nice place, excellent service and good food for the money, but no alcohol served. It's located on Abdoun Circle, in front of the Big Fellow pub.

Books@Cafe - a beautiful old house turned into the then-first bookstore/internet/cafe. Opened in the year 2000 and a hot spot ever since. This cafe is on Rainbow street overlooking all of the old city (Balad) and has two wonderful terraces with the best views in Amman.

Boasting a very funky interior in contrast with the classical exterior, this cafe offers lite fare, water pipes or argheeleh, wine, beer and the best pizza in Amman. Free wireless network and three internet terminals. A must see.

L'Auberge - The Auberge is a traditional restaurant bar in an alley opposit Hashim in downtown, here you can enjoy a truly authentic Jordanian experience.

The atmosphere is typical of the balad with old pictures on the wall, Arabic tarab music and impressive ventilators on the ceiling.

The food is good quality Jordanian fare but with more varieties than some of the simpler restaurants you find in the area. The Menu is relatively varied within the cannon of Jordanian cuisine.

You can enjoy an excellent mashewy or grilled meat and a wide selection of traditional mezze. It is one of the more woman friendly downtown bars, although the clientele is usually mostly male.

Grappa, around the corner from Fakhr Al Din, close to 2. circle, Restaurant and lounge bar with great steaks and good wine. JD 10 for mains.

Hashem - Near the post office at King Faisal Street, where most of the budget hotels are located, you can ask most of the locals for directions to this cheap and famous local eatery.

During meal times, the place is swarming with locals, who are there to eat a cheap and good meal of felafel, houmous and bread. Cost is only about 1.500 JD per person for felafel, hommous, bread and tea.

And even if you can afford the above-mentioned, do not forget the good surprises coming from the countless shawarma outlets and other very cheap places.

Ameer. Located right across from the Hussien Mosque in the old city (Balad). Best place in Amman for falafel sandwiches. The sandwiches are cheap and delicious, 30 piasters.

Ask for shuta, shuta means hot sauce if you like it spicy. The falafel sandwiches come with french fries in them, tomatoes, parsley, onion, and some hummus. You can also ask for a batata sandwich or french fry sandwich, it is wonderful.

If you are a vegetarian, probably you will have to live on bread, felafel, fries, pita bread with hummus moutabal and salads. The salads are really tasty well marinated.

Enchante Cafe & Restaurant, Queen Rania Al-Abdallah Street. Good service nice atmosphere, taste food and drinks, amazing Argheeleh and convenient prices. Good for parties Free WIFI

Jordan's national beer is aptly called Petra beer. Philedelphia and Amstel beers are also brewed in Jordan, with Amstel being particularly prevalent. There are many liquor shops and kiosks around Amman and alcohol is sold relatively freely.

Jordan also produces some very drinkable wines, the main two labels are Mount Nebo the better choice and Haddad. A local must try alcoholic beverage is Araq, the Levantine cousin of Ouzo, Raki and Pastis.

This is usually drunk mixed with water and ice and accompanied by some mezzes or snacks. If you didn't buy anything at the Duty Free Shop when you entered Jordan you can still do this in Amman and other cities.

Regarding high alcohol prices in Jordan it is worth having a look if you feel like drinking some booze. The shop is close to the 5th circle, Tunes St 10 next to the Century Park Hotel. Cheapest Vodka 1L for 10 USD and cheapest cigarettes (200 pieces) 4.5 USD.

The majority of Amman's pubs and night clubs are found in West Amman.

Picadelli Pub, (At Abdali Bus Station). Friendly place that serves alcohol, food, and complimentary snacks JD 3 for beer and wine.

La Calle - Located on Rainbow street, this multi-level bar is know for its half-price happy hour specials.

Jafra,Right across from the post office on King Faisal Street near Hashems. It is upstairs from the DVD store of the same name. A great spot right in the heart of the downtown area.

It has an old, rustic feel to it with more young locals than tourists. They have a great selection of nargileh or water pipe and the entire menu is reasonably priced.

Expect to pay about 10JD for dinner, including an appetizer, kebab, fresh juice and nargileh. Live music starts at 9PM most night. There is another one near Paris circle in Jebel Al Webdeh.

Traditional Cafes

Places people spend time during the evenings are hookah shops.

Al-Mawardi Al-Mawardi Coffee and Hooka Cafe, 15, Siqilya St. South of Al-Rabia circle. Coffee shop with traditional hookah, a wide selection of coffee and beverages. Offers Backgammon boards but no card games. JD 5 for a coffee and hookah.

Amman has the full range of accommodation options from very basic 1 star accommodation to luxurious 5 star facilities.

Sydney Hotel, 9 Shaban Street, Downtown. The best place to stay in Amman. Nice welcoming people, clean and safe. Great location in Downtown and away from the noisy streets. 24 hours reception, free high speed internet, washing service and breakfast is included except for dorms.

Outside food and drinks are allowed. They offer all kind of transportation services around Jordan and airport pick ups for cheap competitive prices. 7 JD for Dorm, 19 JD for a single, 25 JD to 34 JD for a double, 36 JD for a triple.

Boutique Hotel Amman, Down Town Amman - Prince Mohammad Str. - Build. no (32) Downtown close to the market, opposite of Jafra cafe. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. The Boutique Hotel Amman is a very small and nice Hotel with a family atmosphere.

The Hotel has one dormitory and some single and double rooms. Breakfast is available payment apart. 6-7 JD for Dorm, 19 JD for a single, 25 JD to 34 JD for a double, 36 JD for a triple.

Abbasi Palace Hotel, Saqf Al Sail / Quraysh st Downtown. checkout: 12.00. Clean and well-run. Good staff, knowledgeable and helpful. Price includes breakfast. Free wifi and internet. Free tea. 6JD for a dorm, incl. breakfast.

Amman Castle Hotel. Seems to be more catered to males and locals 4.5 JD for a double.

Amman Pasha Hotel, Corner Alhashemi and Alshabsogh street downtown. It has 40 rooms en-suite all with AC one side facing the roman theater and the other side facing the Amman Citadel.

Hotel has free Wi-Fi,free parking,roof terrace,health center ,Gym,offer massage and Turkish Bath.and of course a nightly show of local dance the Dabke at the restaurant rustic decor and vibe a pleasant place to dine or meet friends over a coffee. JOD15-50 +26%.

Arab Tower Hotel, Al Hashimi Street on Al Hashimi Street, ca across the street from Roman Theater, across Jordan Tower Hotel. Great and helpful staff, really good prices, simple but clean and comfortable rooms. Single-sex dorms for foreigners only with 3 beds and in-room bathroom.

Location super convenient to get anywhere,walk to the cafes & restaurants at Rainbow/Mango street or catch cheap service/taxi. Feels safe walking home at 10 or 11 pm.” 6.5JD for a dorm.

Canary Hotel, on Jebel Amman near the Jett Bus Station. 30JD for a double.

Cliff Hostel, In one of the alleys in the souq nearby the central post office. There's a small and old sign. An option for low budget travelers.

In the winter it can get very chilly, make sure that you ask for more blankets and they will provide you if they have. 2 JD for mattresses on the terrace, 5jd dorm, .5jd for shower.

Farah Hotel,Good backpacker option, has common area with satellite TV & movies, organizes tours & very friendly English speaking staff. From 4 JD for a dorm.

Jordan Tower Hotel,next to Roman Amphitheatre. Shared trips at reasonable rates to all tourist sites. Dorm rooms male & female - 2, 3 & 4 bedded rooms some with en suite bathroom and air conditioning and satellite tv. Friendly English-speaking staff. Cheap light snacks and airport pick ups. From 9jd incl breakfast and free wifi.

Palace Hotel, . King Faisal St, Downtown - 30 JD (with shower & satellite TV), 18 JD shared facilities for a double with breakfast included.

Sun Rise Hotel, Abdali station, King Hussein Street. One star hotel with good location near Abdali station.

Safe area, near Capitol Police Centre. TV, free internet, free Wi-Fi and air cond or fan in the room; rooms are very basic, those in the back are colder. Dorm from 3.50 JD, different rooms available from 8JD to 20JD depending on the mood of the manager.

Normas Hotel,King Faisal St. - in front of Hashem Restaurant, Downtown. Super friendly and helpful, clean and safe. 10 JD for a single, 12 JD for a double.

Al Fanar Palace Hotel, Queen Rania Al Abdullah Street,North of city centre and West of Sports City. Standard hotel with reasonable facilities. Wifi in reception (JOD3/hour). Indoor swimming pool, restaurant (but no bar).

You can easily take a taxi down the road to the Regency Palace if you want a bar. Taxi cost is less than JD 1. Hot water can be a problem. JD 60.

Beirut International, King Hussein Street (Near the Abdil bus station). checkout: noon. Good location, nice big rooms, including middle eastern breakfast. JD70, but you can get a discount.

Beity Rose Suites Hotel, Ibn Hayyan Street,Near the Specialty Hospital. checkin: 14:00; checkout: noon. Located in the progressive district of Shmeisani, next to the Royal Cultural Centre and the Amman Stock Market. Friendly hotel in an attractive setting. from JD85.

Crystal Suites Hotel, Al Kindi Street - Fifth Circle. checkout: noon. Nice suites hotel in a prestigous area opposite to the Four Seasons and Sheraton, comfortable for short and long stays, mainly one and two bedroom suites, some studios 50JD with breakfast.

Gardenia Hotel, Abdulhameed Sharaf Street near Safeway. checkout: noon. Friendly hotel in nice and very quiet neighbourhood 45JD with breakfast.

Newpark Hotel, King Hussein Str. opposite the old court. Two-star hotel offering rooms with en-suite bathrooms, satellite TV, air-con, and central heating.

Le Meridien Amman, Queen Noor Street, Shmeisani located in the Shmeisani district, not far from the 4th circle.

Amman Rotana, Black Iris Street, Abdali Look for the tallest tower. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 15PM. Jordan's tallest hotel tower located in the new downtown district of Abdali.

Bristol Hotel, near to 5th Circle. Very good hotel if you can put up with the ever present smell of cigarette smoke even in the non smoking rooms. Wireless internet works well.

Four Seasons Amman, 5th Circle, Al-Kindi Street. A wonderful luxury hotel.

Grand Hyatt Amman, Hussein Bin Ali Street, Jabal Amman in the business district. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 15PM. A favourite of the expat set for its laid back ambiance, terrace views and quality restaurants. Located at 3rd Circle.

Intercontinental Amman, located between the 2nd and 3rd Circles. Another hotel popular with foreign professionals.

Kempinski Amman, Abdul Hameed Shouman Street. A recent addition to the city: all the luxury of a 5 star with a number of interesting modern art features in the designer building.

Amman Marriott Hotel,Shmeisani Area Issam Ajluni Street.

Regency Palace Hotel, Queen Alia Street. Popular 4 star hotel. Some areas need updating, but rooms are comfortable. There is a very good breakfast buffet. Internet access is available in the rooms.

Le Royal Hotel Amman, 3rd Circle, Zahran Street.

Sheraton Amman, located on the 5th Circle. Another five-star.

Compared with other capital cities, Amman is a very safe place to visit. Jordanian police and the military maintain a tight grip on law and order. Personal safety is high in Amman,it is safe to walk anywhere in the city at any time of day or night.

Serious crime is extremely rare. In 2005, some major hotels were targeted by bombers connected with the conflict in Iraq. Security measures at all major hotels were increased as a result.

Jordan is a majority Muslim country with a large Christian population too. Jordanian people are mostly very welcoming to any foreign visitors.

While Jordan is a generally free and tolerant country you should be sensitive when discussing topics with casual acquaintances or strangers such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or making negative comments about the Jordanian royal family, as you would expect of a foreigner expressing opinions on charged political issues in your country.

Jordan is one of the most liberal countries in the region but it is still conservative by Western standards.

Women usually face the most restrictions because of this but are relatively unencumbered here, when compared to other islamic states.

If you are not a muslim there is no obligation to wear an Islamic headscarf,remember there are a lot of Christian women here who do not cover their heads and doing so if you are not a Muslim is unfair to them.

The one exception is when visiting religious sites. Many local muslim females will choose to cover their heads, particularly in East Amman. In more affluent areas, particularly in West Amman, women tend to dress more liberally.

Both male and female travellers are generally advised to dress modestly when sightseeing. Outfits such as long skirts, pants and shirts with sleeves past the elbows will attract less unwanted attention for female travellers.

Note that staring is not considered as rude as it would be in the West so don't take it too personally; it's fairly common.

Shorts are not advisable for men away from the poolside. Sandals are fine for everyone.

Amman makes a convenient base for day trips to:

- Madaba

- Jerash (and Ajlun, Umm Qais)

- Irbid

The Dead Sea. Mount Nebo and Jesus' Baptism Site on the Jordan River are essentially on the way, so consider them as well. The Dead Sea Amman City Resort is about JOD15-20 with free showers and swimming pools, but no lockers, towels or mud.

Wadi al-Seer - A region to the west of Amman, it is a small valley leading down towards the Dead Sea. Nearby is the al-Bassa Springs, the source of the valley's river. Above the spring is the al-Deir monastery.

It's a 20 minute climb up to the monastery. To reach Wadi al-Seer, head to the minibus station on al-Quds Street, just south of al-Husseini Mosque.

Bike tours are a good way to see the local scenery and meet local cyclists. There are a couple of bicycling tour firms in Amman: Tareef cycling club was founded in 1982 and developed into an active group in August of 2007 by a former Jordanian National Team cyclist.

They provide fun active weekend cycling and hiking trips, supporting all levels of fitness all around Jordan.

Cycling-Jordan offers tours and weekly trips to the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea.

Many budget hotels like Palace or Farah organize day tours for about JOD16-18 which seems a sensible price, but they do not include entrance fees which could be important. These tours are open to people who don't sleep at the hotel.

Classical tours are Jerash/Ajlun/Um Qais, Madaba/Mount Nebo/Baptism site/Dead sea, and Castles.Create category

The largest museum in Jordan is The Jordan Museum. It contains much of the valuable archaeological findings in the country,including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Neolithic limestone statues of Ain Ghazal, and a copy of the Mesha Stele.

Other museums include the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Jordan Archaeological Museum, The Children's Museum Jordan, The Martyrs' Memorial and Museum, the Royal Automobile Museum, the Prophet Mohammad Museum, the Museum of Parliamentary Life, the Jordan Folklore Museum, and museums at the University of Jordan.

Amman is considered one of the most liberal and westernized cities in the Arab world.

The city has become one of the most popular destinations for Western expatriates and college students who seek to live, study, or work in the Middle East or the Arab world in general.

The city's culinary scene has changed from its shawerma stands and falafel joints to embrace many popular western restaurants and fast-food outlets such as Asian fusion restaurants, French bistros and Italian trattorias.

The city has become famous for its fine dining scene among Western expatriates and Persian Gulf tourists.

Jordanian cuisine is a traditional style of food preparation originating from, or commonly used in Jordan that has developed from centuries of social and political change.

There is wide variety of techniques used in Jordanian cuisine ranging from baking, sauteeing and grilling to stuffing of vegetables (carrots, leaves, eggplants, etc.), meat, and poultry. Common in Jordanian cuisine is roasting or preparing foods with special sauces.

As one of the largest producers of olives in the world,olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan. Herbs, garlic, onion, tomato sauce and lemon are typical flavours found in Jordan.

The blend of spices called za'atar contains a common local herb called Sumac that grows wild in Jordan and ia closely identified with Jordanian and other Mideastern cuisines.

Yogurt is commonly served alongside food and is a common ingredient itself, in particular, jameed, a form of dried yogurt is unique to Jordanian cuisine and a main ingredient in Mansaf the national dish of Jordan, and a symbol in Jordanian culture for generosity.

Another famous meat dish in Southern Jordan especially in the Bedouin Desert area of Petra and Wadi Rum is the Zarb which is prepared in a submerged oven also called a taboon. It is considered a delicacy of that area.

Internationally known foods which are common and popular everyday snacks in Jordan include hummus, which is a puree of chick peas blended with tahini, lemon, and garlic and falafel, a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas.

A typical mezze includes foods such as kibbeh, labaneh, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, olives and pickles. Bread, rice, freekeh and bulgur all have a role in Jordanian cuisine.

Popular desserts include as baklava, knafeh, halva and qatayef a dish made specially for Ramadan, in addition to seasonal fruits such as watermelons, figs and cactus pear which are served in summer.

Turkish coffee and tea flavored with mint or sage are almost ubiquitous in Jordan. Arabic coffee is also usually served on more formal occasions.Arak, an aniseed flavoured spirit is also drunk with food.

Jordanian cuisine is part of Levantine cuisine and shares many traits and similarities with the cuisine of Lebanon, Palestine and Syrian, often with some local variations.

More generally Jordanian cuisine is influenced by historical connections to the cuisine of Turkey and the former Ottoman Empire.

Jordanian cuisine is also influenced by the cuisines of groups who have made a home for themselves in modern Jordan including, Armenians, Circassians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians.

Food is a very important aspect of Jordanian culture. In villages, meals are a community event with immediate and extended family present. In addition, food is commonly used by Jordanians to express their hospitality and generosity.

Jordanians serve family, friends, and guests with great pride in their homes; no matter how modest their means. A Jordanian invitation means that you are expected to bring nothing and eat everything.

Most of the celebrations in Jordan are exceptionally diverse in nature and quite festive at the same time. Each celebration is marked with dishes from Jordanian cuisine spread out and served to the guests.

There are many traditional small gatherings in Jordan too; even in those gatherings a lot of meals are served.

Customs such as weddings, birth of a child, funerals, birthdays and specific religious and national ceremonies such as Ramadan and Jordan's independence day all call for splendid food to be served to guests.

To celebrate the birth of a child, Karawiya, a caraway flavoured pudding is commonly served to guests.
Petra Metzes
By far the most dominant style of eating in Jordan, mezze is the small plate, salad, appetizer, community style eating, aided by dipping, dunking and otherwise scooping with bread. Mezze plates are typically rolled out before larger main dishes.

Souk Jara is one of the most famous outdoor markets managed by the Jabal Amman Residents Association (JARA)

Large shopping malls were built during the 2000s in Amman, including the Mecca Mall, Abdoun Mall, City Mall, Al-Baraka Mall, Taj Mall, Zara Shopping Center, Avenue Mall, and Abdali Mall in Al Abdali.

Wakalat Street or Agencies Street is Amman's first pedestrian-only street and carries a lot of name-label clothes. The Sweifieh area is considered to be the main shopping district of Amman.

Nightclubs, music bars and shisha lounges are present across Amman, changing the city's old image as the conservative capital of the kingdom. This burgeoning new nightlife scene is shaped by Jordan's young population.

In addition to the wide range of drinking and dancing venues on the social circuit of the city's affluent crowd, Amman hosts cultural entertainment events, including the annual Amman Summer Festival.

Souk Jara is a Jordanian annual weekly flea market event that occurs every Friday throughout the summer.Abdoun Circle is a major centre of the city's nightlife where clubs maintain a strict couples only policy.

Sweifieh is considered to be the unofficial red-light district of Amman as it holds most of the city's nightclubs, bars, strip-clubs, massage parlors, and other adult entertainment venues.Jabal Amman and Jabal al-Weibdeh are home to many pubs and bars as well, making the area popular among bar hoppers.

Alcohol is widely available in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and supermarkets.There are numerous nightclubs and bars across the city, especially in West Amman.

There are plenty registered nightclubs in Jordan excluding bars and pubs, overwhelmingly located in the capital city and several registered liquor stores in Amman.

Many events take place in Amman, including Redbull sponsored events, soundclash and soapbox race, the second part of Jerash Festival, Al-Balad Music Festival, Amman Marathon, Made in Jordan Festival, Amman Book Festival and New Think Festival.

The New Think Festival is a yearly weekend event that is part of NewThink, a non-profit initiative that aims to inspire youth to think about the world in an innovative way. The festival is one of the many events throughout the year to get youth involved.

In 2015 the festival hosted 40 different organizations at King Hussein Business Park in Amman that inspired their audience to be visionary and think differently about the world through presentations and workshops.

The variety of organizations included business, environmental, medical and educational groups.

The banking sector is one of the principal foundations of Jordan's economy. Despite the unrest and economic difficulties in the Arab world resulting from the Arab Spring uprisings, Jordan's banking sector maintained its growth.

The sector currently consists of several banks, some of which are listed on the Amman Stock Exchange. Amman is the base city for the international Arab Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, serving clients in more than 600 branches in 30 countries on five continents.

Arab Bank represents more than 25% of the Amman Stock Exchange and is the highest-ranked institution by market capitalization on the exchange.

Amman is the 4th most visited Arab city and the ninth highest recipient of international visitor spending. Roughly 1.8 million tourists visited Amman in 2011 and spent over $1.3 billion in the city.

The expansion of Queen Alia International Airport is an example of the Greater Amman Municipality's heavy investment in the city's infrastructure.

The recent construction of a public transportation system and a national railway, and the expansion of roads, are intended to ease the traffic generated by the millions of annual visitors to the city.

Amman, and Jordan in general, is the Middle East's hub for medical tourism. Jordan receives the most medical tourists in the region and the fifth highest in the world. Amman receives 250,000 foreign patients a year and over $1 billion annually.

Amman is now a big business hub in middle east. The city's skyline is being continuously transformed through the emergence of new projects. A significant portion of business flowed into Amman following the 2003 Iraq War.

Jordan's main airport, Queen Alia International Airport, is located south of Amman and is the hub for the country's national carrier Royal Jordanian, a major airline in the region.The airline is headquartered in Zahran district.

Rubicon Group Holding and Maktoob, two major regional information technology companies, are based in Amman, along with major international corporations such as Hikma Pharmaceuticals, one of the Middle East's largest pharmaceutical companies, and Aramex, the Middle East's largest logistics and transportation company.

In a report by Dunia Frontier Consultants, Amman, along with Doha, Qatar and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, are the favored hubs for multinational corporations operating in the Middle East and North Africa region.

In FDI magazine, Amman was chosen as the Middle Eastern city with the most potential to be a leader in foreign direct investment in the region.

Furthermore, several of the world's largest investment banks have offices in Amman including Standard Chartered, Societe Generale, and Citibank.

Downtown Amman, the city centre area known in Arabic as Al-Balad, has been dwarfed by the sprawling urban area that surrounds it. Despite the changes, much remains of its old character.

Jabal Amman is a well-known touristic attraction in old Amman, where the city's greatest souks, fine museums, ancient constructions, monuments, and cultural sites are found. Jabal Amman also contains the famous Rainbow Street and the cultural Souk Jara market.

Residential buildings are limited to four stories above street level and if possible another four stories below, according to the Greater Amman Municipality regulations. The buildings are covered with thick white limestone or sandstone.

The buildings usually have balconies on each floor, with the exception of the ground floor, which has a front and back yard. Some buildings make use of Mangalore tiles on the roofs or on the roof of covered porches.

Hotels, towers and commercial buildings are either covered by stone, plastic or glass.

Population of city reached 4,007,526 in 2015, Amman contains about 42% of Jordan's entire population.It has a land area of 1,680 km2 (648.7 sq mi) which yields a population density of about 2,380 inhabitants per square kilometre (6,200/sq mi).

The population of Amman has risen exponentially with the successive waves of immigrants and refugees arriving throughout the 20th century.

From a population of roughly 1,000 in 1890, Amman grew to around 1,000,000 inhabitants in 1990, primarily as a result of immigration, but also due to the high birthrate in the city.Amman had been abandoned for centuries until hundreds of Circassians settled it in the 19th century.

Today, about 40,000 Circassians live in Amman and its vicinity.After Amman became a major hub along the Hejaz Railway in 1914, many Muslim and Christian merchant families from al-Salt immigrated to the city.

A large proportion of Amman's inhabitants have Palestinian roots urban or rural origin, and the two main demographic groups in the city today are Arabs of Palestinian or Jordanian descent. Circassians comprise about 2% of the population.

There are no official statistics about the proportion of people of Palestinian or Jordanian descent.

New arrivals consisting of Jordanians from the north and south of the country and immigrants from Palestine had increased the city's population from 30,000 in 1930 to 60,000 in 1947.

About 10,000 Palestinians, mostly from Safad, Haifa and Acre, migrated to the city for economic opportunities before the 1948 war.Many of the immigrants from al-Salt from that time were originally from Nablus.

The 1948 war caused an exodus of urban Muslim and Christian Palestinian refugees, mostly from Jaffa, Ramla and Lydda, to Amman,whose population swelled to 110,000.

With Jordan's capture of the West Bank during the war, many Palestinians from that area steadily migrated to Amman between 1950 and 1966, before another mass wave of Palestinian refugees from the West Bank moved to the city during the 1967 War.

By 1970, the population had swelled to an estimated 550,000.A further 200,000 Palestinians arrived after their expulsion from Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War. Several large Palestinian refugee camps exist around the centre of Amman.

Because Amman lacks a deep-rooted native population, the city does not have a distinct Arabic dialect, although recently such a dialect utilizing the various Jordanian and Palestinian dialects, has been forming.

The children of immigrants in the city are also increasingly referring to themselves as Ammani, unlike much of the first-generation inhabitants who identify more with their respective places of origin.

Amman has a mostly Sunni Muslim population, and the city contains numerous mosques.Among the main mosques is the large King Abdullah I Mosque, built between 1982 and 1989. It is capped by a blue mosaic dome beneath which 3,000 Muslims may offer prayer.

The Abu Darweesh Mosque, noted for its checkered black-and-white pattern, has an architectural style that is unique to Jordan.The mosque is situated on Jabal Ashrafieh, the highest point in the city.

The mosque's interior is marked by light-coloured walls and Persian carpets. It was built by a Circassian resident of Amman.

During the 2004 Amman Message conference, edicts from various clergy-members afforded the following schools of thought as garnering collective recognition: Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi'i, Ja'fari, Zahiri, Zaydi, Ibadi, tassawuf-related Sufism, Muwahhidism and Salafism.

Amman also has a small Druze community.

Large numbers of Christians from throughout Jordan, particularly from al-Salt, have moved to Amman. Nearby Fuheis is a predominantly Christian town located to the northwest of the city.

A small Armenian Catholic community of around 70 families is present in the city.Ecclesiastical courts for matters of personal status are also located in Amman.

A total of 16 historic churches are located in Umm ar-Rasas ruins in Al-Jeezah district, the site is believed to have initially served as Roman fortified military camps which gradually became a town around the 5th century AD.

It has not been completely excavated. It was influenced by several civilizations including the Romans, Byzantines and Muslims. The site contains some well-preserved mosaic floors, particularly the mosaic floor of the Church of Saint Stephen.[

Tourism Observer

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