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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Jordan Jordan

Country Information & Lifestyle

 God, the Homeland, the King

God, the Homeland, the King

Jordan is in Southwest Asia spanning the southern part of the Syrian Desert down to the gulf of Aqaba. It shares border with Syria to the north, Iraq to the north-east, the West Bank and Israel to the west and Saudi Arabia to the east and south. It shares control of the Dead Sea with Israel and the coastline of the Gulf of Aqaba with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Much of Jordan is covered by desert, particularly the Arabian Desert, however the north-western area, with the Jordan River, is regarded as part of the Fertile Crescent. Jordan is surprisingly diverse in its geography and its culture, both of which have been shaped over thousands of years.

Rolling hills covered in thick forests, table-flat expanses of shimmering desert, Arcadian groves of olives, pomegranate and apricot trees, stark, saw-toothed mountains, mystical, narrow canyons of pink, red and cream rock. All of this and more is Jordan.

Jordan enjoys a long summer period and when the Sirocco,(a hot, dry southerly wind blows), the temperatures can go above 40c and at times these winds can be very strong and can cause sandstorms. However always be aware of cold nights Wadi Rum's sands plummet to 4c in winter, whilst the beaches of Aqaba and the salty Dead Sea touch 40c in July.

Winters are generally short and cool and Amman can be especially cold and snow is not uncommon. Winters in the Eastern Desert however, can be bitterly cold and dry. The central spine of hills can receive snowfall during winter months.

Although Jordan's total coastline is only 27 kilometres long, seven kilometres have been given over to a Marine Park. Within this short stretch there are 21 dive sites and five beaches. Coral reefs dominate the Park, usually with a sandy lagoon between the reef and the shore, while the reef tends to shelve steeply to seaward. It is the only access Jordanians have to the sea for shipping, fishing and leisure.

The King's Highway is an ancient artery that starts in Amman and passes through the heart of Jordan. It is possibly one of the most scenic drives anywhere in the world. For over 330 kms it winds its way through gently rolling agricultural land, past sleepy rural villages, skirts the edge of the Eastern Desert, twists its way up steep rugged mountains, plunges 600 meters into Jordan's Grand Canyon, Wadi Mujib, and ends at Aqaba on the shores of the Red Sea. On route are rural communities where tourists rarely if ever stop. Take the time to pull over at a local shop to buy baklava or for a coffee at a roadside stall and you will be sure of a hospitable if inquisitive reception.

The Ajloun Forest Reserve in northern Jordan is home to wild boar, wolf and roe deer. Azraq is the name for a huge oasis, deep in the heart of Jordan's Eastern Desert, an essential sanctuary for over a 150 species of migratory birds, as well as buffalo, 18 other types of mammal, 16 reptile species and the critically endangered Azraq killifish.

The Mujib Reserve is 212 sq miles of starkly rugged mountainous land, veined in with the deep water-cut canyons of several permanent rivers. The reserve has been used successfully as a breeding centre for the endangered Nubian Ibex and is a natural breeding ground for nine species of birds of prey.

Amman, the capital, lies at the foot of Jebel el Qalaa citadel hill. Exquisitely restored, the 2nd century Roman theatre leaning on the flanks of the hill could hold up to 6,000 spectators. Here you are in the ancient forum, a vast public area flanked by galleries from where you can still see the semicircle of the Odeon. The area of souks surrounds the King Hussein mosque; here you can buy spices and gold. The vast podium of the Temple of Hercules was the most important monument of the acropolis.

Petra - The Red-Rose City, half as old as time, needs no introduction. Petra is mystical, beguiling and romantic. Enter Petra by walking through the narrow canyon of the Siq. Its towering water-cut, pink rock walls cutting off all but a sliver of sky, enclosing you in its silence and beauty, enchanting and leading you towards that one fateful step where the incomparable majesty of the Treasury reveals itself after just one extra step. Seen at night the Siq and the Treasury lit by the flickering flames of more than 2000 candles when their warm lights seems to make the rose rock glow from within.

When you leave take the lower gate and the road then climbs a hill to the village of Umm Sayhoon where the Bedouin community lives. For generations, many Bedouin families lived in the caves of Petra, but in the early '80s they were moved to the houses built by the government at Umm Sayhoon.

Jarash, 48 miles north of Amman, is the one of the best-preserved provincial Roman cities in the world. There are hilltop temples, baths, a hippodrome, fountains and a large oval forum fringed by a colonnade. Surrounding the entire city are walls punctuated by arched gates and guarded by towers. In its heyday the hippodrome could accommodate around 15,000 spectators. Today, visitors can still use the arena to watch re-enactments of Roman military maneuvers, gladiatorial combat and chariot racing.

UUmm el-Jimal lies 32 miles north east of Jaresh and used to be frequented by the caravans. Sitting on a small plateau above the Jordan Valley, the small rural village of Pella seems like a sleepy backwater.

Karak's towering position, perched on a hill-top almost 1000 metres above sea level, surrounded on three sides by valleys and with commanding views over the Dead Sea makes it a perfect spot for a castle. Wandering the ruins of Karak Castle is a powerful experience. Somehow the place still retains an air of menace, possibly due to the many underground passages with side rooms and chambers to be explored.

Umm Qais in the valley of the Jordan River has kept vestiges of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras. It offers an incredible panorama of Lake Tiberias and the steep-sided Yarmouk valley dominated by the Golan Heights.

East from Amman, all the way out to the Iraqi and Saudi Arabian borders, stretches a desert plain. Spread throughout this vast expanse of sand and basalt rocks are several desert castles. The best preserved is Qsar Amra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Qasr al-Azraq, a 13th century basalt fort has a military history. More recently, Lawrence of Arabia used it as a headquarters during the Arab Revolt. Other sites of note are Qasr Tuba, Qasr Mushatta and Qasr Hallabat.

You should not leave Jordan without spending some time in the extraordinary desert moonscape of Wadi Rum, haunt of Lawrence of Arabia and starting point for camel treks into the red sands. The Bedouin call Wadi Rum "The Valley of the Moon" and the entrance is via a park gate and a road that leads to the Bedouin village of Wadi Rum, the last outpost of modernity before the untamed wilderness, the sheer scale of which is both daunting and captivating.

To the Bedouin this is still home and in many ways their lifestyle has not changed. Of course, tourism is now an essential part of the local economy, yet they still pitch their goat-hair tents far out in the desert for their herds of sheep, goats and camels to for forage for food.

Lie on your back in the timeless desert, look up at a night sky and sleep under a billion stars. It is an unforgettable experience as you fill your eyes with this magical celestial light. During the full moon you can go walking during the night like you are in a street with stars so bewitching and the vast emptiness shrinks down to the size of your campsite and the flicker of the fire.

Of course, as with every other country, you must try the local cuisine. Jordanian cuisine, Lebanese-inspired, mixes eastern and Mediterranean flavors. Starters often consist of the standard mezze (assorted cold dishes eaten with hot flat bread), beureks (cheese, parsley or meat pasties), koftehs (cracked wheat, minced meat and parsley fried balls) or falafels (fried chickpea puree croquettes). Then you have mutton (shish kebabs), chicken or beef kebabs.

If you want a quick bite, have an eastern sandwich, the famous shawarma (bread stuffed with spit-roasted mutton or chicken with tomatoes, onions and sauce). You can also have mensaf, a traditional Bedouin dish, a spiced mutton stew, with curdled ewe's milk, almonds and pine nut, served with rice and yogurt sauce.

For desserts, you have essentially eastern pastries like the delicious baklava with honey and pistachio. Tea is very sweet and Bedouins mix it with sage or thyme. Finally, do not miss the traditional Turkish coffee or Arab coffee, and cardamom-flavoured brewed coffee, a little bitter but an easily acquired taste.

Jordan - Incredibly inspiring, full of history, welcoming people and delicious food! With jewels such as Petra by Night, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum you will be captivated by this beautiful country and surely will want to stay awhile.

Purchasing a Property

Foreigners are allowed to buy property in Jordan, provided Jordan and the buyer's country of residence have a reciprocal relationship, and that the approval of the Cabinet (Council of Ministers) is obtained.

Foreigners can only sell the property five years from acquisition.

A real estate agent is needed when purchasing property in Jordan. However, legal and other procedures needed for the transaction can be done without the services of a lawyer.

While prior approval from the Cabinet is needed, there are other Government agencies involved in the registration of the property. These authorities are: the Lands and Surveys Department and/or the Minister of Finance.

An official sale form is available from the Lands and Surveys Department. This is acquired together with the cadastral map and certificate of ownership. A Tax Clearance is also obtained from the Ministry of Finance.

Fees & Taxes

A stamp duty of 0.6% is imposed on the sales contracts; it must be paid within one month of the conclusion of the contract. Failure to do so will result in a fine, equal to three times the amount of duty payable.

Transfer duty 6% paid by the buyer and 4% paid by the seller.

The registration fee of 10% is paid to transfer ownership of the title after closing the transaction. This fee is divided between the buyer and the seller.

There is an annual property tax to be paid in Jordan; the amount of the tax will be determined by the local Municipality. The location, size, quality of the property is taken into account as well as any rental income brought in by the property.

There are also brokerage fees due to be paid, the typical brokerage fees require 2% of the selling price from the buyer and 2% of the selling price from the seller. In addition to that, 16% of the brokerage fee is payable to cover the Government Sales Tax. The only exceptions made are for those who are tax exempt in Jordan.

Visas

All visitors to Jordan are required to have a valid passport with at least six months remaining from day of entry into the country.

To enter Jordan, a visa valid for six months is required for most nationals. A one-month, single-entry visas can be obtained. This excludes transit passengers continuing their journey to another country by the same or first connecting aircraft within 24 hours - providing they hold a valid onward or return ticket, and do not leave the airport.

Transit visas can only be issued at Jordanian airports/airlines and not at embassies or consulates.

Note
The one month, single-entry visa on arrival can be obtained at any point of entry into Jordan, except for the King Hussein Bridge at the Jordan/Israel border.
Groups of five or more people arriving through a designated Jordanian tour operator with a government certified tour guide are exempt from all visa charges, as long as the group departs together.

Multiple-entry visas can only be obtained at the nearest embassy/consulate.

Visas may be extended for three or six months by registering with a police station in Jordan.

If visiting Israel and the Palestinian authority it is advisable to obtain a multiple entry visa before departure.
Types and cost:

Single-entry visa on arrival is, depending on the exchange rate, around: 18; multiple-entry visa: 53.

Validity varies according to nationality; ask at the embassy for details.

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