Is it safe to travel to Jordan?
This question comes up time and time again whenever there is a problem elsewhere in the middle east. Susan Lawrence from the Jordan Times has kindly written a piece for us describing the real situation on the ground, here in Jordan which will answer any worries you have of travelling in Jordan.
By Susan Lawrence, The Jordan Times
Even during these times of hostilities between Israel and the people of Gaza, Jordan remains one of the safest places in the world to visit. Because Jordan relies mainly on its tourism industry for revenues, the government takes tourism and the safety of tourists extremely seriously.
Even though most Jordanians are of Palestinian descent and there are Palestinian refugee camps in the Kingdom, the people realize individual citizens of Western or foreign countries are not to blame for the actions of their governments. The Jordanian people remain hospitable beyond belief, and are always willing to go to the assistance of a foreigner needing directions or assistance. An invitation to a Jordanian home for a meal or for tea is more likely than not during your visit.
In the days following the beginning of Israel's campaign on Gaza, Jordanians took to the streets, mostly in the capital of Amman, the refugee camps and the campuses of major universities to protest the hostilities. Every demonstration, except one approaching the Israeli embassy in Amman, has been peaceful and concluded without incident. These demonstrations have primarily occurred after Friday noon prayers, and have been valuable in helping the local population cope with the frustration of being powerless to help their brothers and sisters in Gaza, urging the government to do more to halt the hostilities. None of the tourist attractions in Jordan have been affected by protesters or demonstrations. Although foreigners have participated in these demonstrations without incidence, most embassies advise their citizens to avoid them.
Jordan's land borders with Israel remain open, but reports have come in about heightened security and longer-than-usual waiting times to be processed at the crossings. There was one claim by the Israeli military of a shooting at a military patrol from across the Jordanian border, but this report was intensely investigated and disavowed by Jordanian authorities. Israeli citizens are also on heightened alert due to the large number of Israeli Palestinians living in Israel. If you are planning to travel to Israel, be aware that you might be viewed with suspicion having come into Israel from Jordan.
There are usually less than 150 murders in the Kingdom per year, and many of these involve individual disputes, not violence against foreigners. The one attack on a foreigner last year (2008) was by a mentally ill individual who stabbed a European tourist in downtown Amman. The tourist was later flown back to the Kingdom where he was able to continue his uncompleted vacation at the expense of the Jordanian government.
Jordan has remained at the forefront of efforts in pushing the peace process forward and is highly regarded by other countries for the work His Majesty King Abdullah has done in trying to bring the two sides together and affect a lasting and permanent settlement for a decades-old problem. Jordan reveres peace and remains an island of stability in a region fraught with problems.