Shopping in Jordan
Most towns have a souk selling everything from meat and live chickens to clothes and jewellery. Amman’s downtown gold souk is a special attraction – a cluster of tiny shops with glittering window displays crammed together just off the main King Faisal Street. The gold is usually 18ct or above and there is sometimes no charge added for the craftsmanship of items like bangles, chains and earrings.
Tourist-oriented towns offer many handicrafts, including carpet-weaving or mosaic pieces: Jordan’s mosaic school in Madaba trains young people to work with the colourful, locally hewn stone.
Another distinctive local craft is ostrich-egg painting: the paint is applied with needle pricks and designs can take weeks to complete.
Other hand-crafted items include sand jars, hand-blown glass and embroidered clothing. Bottled holy water from the River Jordan can also be purchased, as can skin-care products made from Dead Sea mud.
Some of the best souvenir shopping can be done at the Nature Shops run by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (www.rscn.org.jo). These are located at nature reserve headquarters around the country, and also at the Wild Jordan centre off Rainbow Street, 1st Circle in Amman. The Nature Shops stock all sorts of handmade items, from jewellery and painted ostrich eggs to leather goods, paper and novelty home decor pieces – all sourced sustainably, according to local fair trade principles.
Generally Sat-Thurs 0930-1330 and 1530-1800; some shops open as early as 0800, others close as late as 2100. Some shops are closed on Friday, either all day or until around 1400.
Nightlife in Jordan
For many Jordanians, an evening’s entertainment is going out for a meal. Amman does have nightclubs in some areas, mostly attached to 5-star hotels. Many high-end hotels have popular bars. Whilst Amman does have a clubbing scene, not all places serve alcohol, and most are only open until 0100 or 0200. Some cinemas in Amman show English-language films, and there are cultural centres for concerts and exhibitions.
Outside the capital, nightlife is thinner on the ground. The Dead Sea resorts offer a variety of entertainment (not usually open to non-guests), as do the 5-star hotels in the Red Sea resort city of Aqaba. In smaller places, coffee shops are often a social hub after dark; men, or couples, may feel more comfortable here than solo women. University towns such as Karak and Irbid host strips of late-night cafes and fast-food joints serving a student clientele.
The best source of information on entertainment listings is the website 7iber.com, while some arts events and concerts are publicised in the Jordan Times newspaper.