Image 1 of 10: Ruling family: Not all kings can say they're direct descendants of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) - unless they're part of JO's Hashemite family. They've been popular since they were installed by the Brits in 1921 and you can’t walk down the street without seeing pictures of King Abdullah, his glam wife or dad Hussein plastered on shop windows.
Image 1 of 10: Radiant Rania, Beauty in the East: Step aside Kate Middleton, there’s another reigning babe in town. Jordan’s Queen is not only gorge, she has the charm-factor in spades, she's a global ambassador for education & women...and she’s Palestinian! Rania was ranked #1 most beautiful First Lady in 2011. Beauty & brains? Good pick, Abdullah!
Image 1 of 10: A force to be reckoned with! The Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) is considered one of the best armies in the region. Well trained, organized & professional, the army has served as a helping hand in several regional conflicts thanks to JO's war-free zone. JAF had boots on the ground in the Libyan Civil War and they played a role in Afghanistan.
Image 1 of 10: Picturesque Philadelphia: It might be in the middle of an economic boom, but Amman’s no new city - it’s been around since 10th Century BC. A capital famed for its rolling hills and dusty downtown rooftops, it’s packed with culture and beautiful views - a roman theatre and the citadel are just two reasons why Amman is known for its vibrancy.
Image 1 of 10: It rocks! Red ruins: The Nabateans were spot on when they carved Petra out of red stone in 312 BC. One of the 'new' wonders of the world, there’s more to Petra than the Treasury - a wealth of stunning scenery & hiking are to be had. The architectural jewel in the Mideast’s crown, it’s only right that it lies in charming south Jordan.
Image 1 of 10: Scenic over-achiever: Petra aside, there are dozens of other historical and cultural hotspots to visit in Jordan - there’s Biblical sites for religion buffs, floating in the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum’s desert scapes, Wadi Dana’s copious wildlife and the roman ruins of Jerash to tickle your fancy. Stop putting your neighbors to shame, Jordan!
Image 1 of 10: Welcome to Jordan! No country has opened its arms to its neighbors like Jordan. Although resource-poor, the Kingdom has maintained an open border policy to Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrians alike. Recent estimates suggest 10% of Jordan’s population are Syrian refugees -- and that’s nothing compared to the Palestinians, who first came in 1948.
Image 1 of 10: Regional relations & international schmoozer! This little Kingdom has managed to pursue pragmatic diplomacy with all states across the region - and further afield. The late and great King Hussein even did the unthinkable and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. Despite sharing a border with Syria, Jordan has also managed to avoid conflict.
Image 1 of 10: Stability is sexy: Jordan has remained strong in the face of the Syrian war - where Beirut’s U.S. embassy closed at the first sign of trouble, Jordan’s western bases have remained resolutely open. The Kingdom isn’t for wimps and the number of expats moving to Jordan proves this stoic country really is the gateway to the Middle East.
Image 1 of 10: Mighty & meaty: Falafel & hummus are so last year - and can’t hold a candle to Jordan’s traditional dish, Mansaf. A Bedouin feast, a hunk of lamb is stewed in fermented yogurt & served with rice in what might be the tastiest meal EVER. This wholesome goodness will warm you through cold Amman winters and vouch for your Jordanian credentials!
Jordan is famous in the Middle East for two things - Petra and its stability. Slap-bang in the middle of the region’s danger zone, it’s a miracle that the Hashemite Kingdom has managed to maintain its balance - it has a functioning parliament (inshallah mentality and kalashinkov wielding MPs aside), a respected King (for the most part), political participation and a thriving expat community that hasn’t been driven out of the Arab world by conflict. In fact, if you go to certain parts of Amman, you’ll hear more foreign voices than Arab ones.
Jordan may not be as resource-rich as the rest of the region - it doesn’t have the oil, water supplies or natural gas reserves of its neighbours - but it is still getting by.
Jordan might be “the boring one” in its Middle Eastern friendship group, but that doesn’t mean it is devoid of its fair share of troubles. Thanks to conflicts raging in Syria and the ongoing turmoil in Iraq - not to mention the time-old Palestinian struggle - a massive chunk of Jordan’s population is made up of non-Jordanians. Considering it shares shores with Egypt, the Middle East’s most populous country of 80 million, Jordan is a drop in the desert with a teeny-weeny population. There are only around seven million people living in the Kingdom and at least three million of those are Palestinian - though estimates vary - who have fled to the East Jordan banks largely due to the Israeli occupation.
Despite the problems it has due to a growing refugee population - and a fairly reluctant host community - Jordan is one of the most diverse and vibrant Middle Eastern states. And it has no war going on! Hurrah!
If you’re a Hashemite naysayer, hold your tongue and let Al Bawaba take you through the 10 reasons why Jordan is the place to be in the Middle East. Long live the King!