Jordan's Business World

Jordan features deserts, the Jordan Valley, the Red Sea, and the city of Petra. The country's official name is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and it is mainly Muslim; but there are many different origins, ethnic backgrounds and religious groups there. Jordan is also home to several minorities, including nomadic Bedouins and refugees from Palestine. Since King Abdullah was inaugurated in 1999, his modern economic views and reform have increased foreign investment in Jordan. To successfully do business in Jordan, it is essential that you understand its culture and business etiquette.

One of the key concepts in Jordanian life is Islam; the religion's values and rules are an integral part of society. Almost ninety percent of Jordan's people are Sunni Muslims, and their strict beliefs mean that most Jordanians are family oriented, very hospitable, and abide by the rules. Islamic obligations and customs have a heavy influence on the way business is conducted in Jordan.

Family is very important in Jordan; the patriarchal family is the center of all political and social activity and close relationships are essential. The family patriarch is usually addressed as "Sheikh", and his influence is based on the family's size, wealth and ancestry. For a Jordanian sheikh, supporting a relative is a badge of honor and pride.

The people of Jordan are known for their hospitality; the social act of entertaining plays a very large role in Jordanian business and society. An invitation to dinner or another function at a Jordanian's home is very common, and should always be graciously accepted. Even for very short visits, coffee and tea are always offered.

The Kingdom of Jordan is a very young nation, but its roots go back for centuries. Recent privatization, liberalization and reform have helped to stabilize the country's economy, strengthen its position and increase foreign investments through its WTO membership. The reforms implemented by King Abdullah have helped with the poverty and unemployment that were rampant in the country, and have also raised living standards for the average Jordanian.

In Jordan, the concept of time is different than in Western countries. Jordanian people put more emphasis on close personal relationships than a schedule, so deadlines aren't a priority for them. To do business in Jordan, you'll need an extra measure of patience. In most cases, business in Jordan requires an appointment, to be scheduled according to the five daily prayer times, as well as the holidays of Hajj and Ramadan.

For Jordanians, Friday is a holiday; shops, businesses and banks are usually also closed on Saturdays. In most places, business is conducted from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm and again from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, with hours varying during Ramadan.

Jordanian companies are hierarchical in nature, with very rigid structures in place. Those in authority are supposed to give specific directives to their subordinates. In Jordanian culture, age is very important, so in business dealings, show deference to elders. When entering a room or meeting Jordanian contemporaries for the first time, shake hands with the most senior business person in the room.

To be successful in business in Jordan, you need to develop a personal relationship with your Jordanian colleagues, showing them that you are interested in them as people and not just for business purposes. In Arab cultures, friendship and respect are very important, and that carries over to the business setting.

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