Driving in Jordan

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Driving in Jordan

(photo by wasapninjordan)

I have been driving for almost 15 years now and I have driven in many places. I know many of the expatriate community are not used to the driving behaviour in Jordan but I think more you drive the easier it gets.

When I started driving in Jordan, I was given my first piece of advice. ‘just look ahead, don’t worry about whose behind you, and watch out for the Mutahajbeens (I think I spelt this correctly). Mutahajbeens are women who wear the headscarf.

In honesty I think many people will have different views on this but I didn’t see a difference between Mutahajbeen drivers compared to other drivers. What I discovered was that when you see a minibus driver, stay far away. J

The circles or the ‘roundabouts’ as we call them in the UK are an exciting experience in Jordan. The rule is simple and there is only one rule. If you can get on the circle then do it, otherwise you will be stuck waiting. My experience however has been that apparently it is the right of the new driver who is joining the circle rather then the driver who is already driving round the circle. Is this true?

I have witnessed accidents, bad driving, fast driving, traffic jams and simply bad organisation by the police officers but what I have never witnessed is the people, the drivers getting angry at one another, of course you may see an occasional driver in a bad mood but nothing like what I am used to in the UK. I dare not look at another driver in the UK, with the fear of being attacked.

If I accidentally make a wrong move or do something wrong, all I have to do is smile and raise my hand to apologise. Wonderful J however in the UK I would seriously have to think about how I respond back, and question if I have just messed with the wrong person today.

Who owns the road? Pedestrians or the drivers? I get amazed at how daring the pedestrians are when facing an upcoming car. It’s an unwritten rule I think. You know that people are gonna stop if they see a pedestrian on the road. However there is a nasty side to this and as I understand the number of pedestrians’ getting run over by cars is increasing year by year; so please be careful when crossing the road.

In conclusion if you give me the choice, where would I rather be driving? My choice is definitely Jordan. Sure I miss the rules and a sense of order but I do not fear driving here at all like I did in the UK. I enjoy driving here in Jordan, because I know I am not likely to be a victim of road rage.



12 thoughts on “Driving in Jordan

    mab3oos said:
    May 18, 2008 at 11:29 PM

    in regard to the circles, I was once told that
    الاولوية للي بدافش
    meaning, the priority is for the brave ones. Thats hardly a translation. But, it delivers the idea.

    wasapninjordan said:
    May 19, 2008 at 6:08 AM

    But I think the saying is true to its reality 🙂

    Moabite said:
    May 19, 2008 at 10:48 AM

    “I get amazed at how daring the pedestrians are when facing an upcoming car.”

    I don’t live in Amman, I live in Karak (Ancient Moab). Why am I mentioning where I live?! Simply because I think that my behaviour, as a pedestrain, differ radically when I come to Amman.

    In Karak, I am a ‘civilized’ pedestrain. However, when coming to amman, I beome, sorrowfully, uncivilized. But why?Aren’t I coming to the capital?

    Streets in Karak are far much less crowded than those in Amman. I wait for any cars in the streets to pass then I will cross the street. How civilized I act sometimes!

    In Amman, on the other hand, cars passing in the street never seem to stop. There are always cars coming and going. So, what should I do?! Wait for a driver who will stop and allow me to pass?! Maybe, if I have a young woman standing beside me. The result. I don’t have any option but to cross because I have no other option.

    According to your comment, I am a “daring pedestrain.” Maybe it is because how ‘courageous’ I can be. But rather, I will never cross the street if i didn’t take the adventure.

    I believe that the follwing (caricteur) can help you understand why jordanian pedestrains are ‘daring’…


    By the way, nice blog… good luck!

    wasapninjordan said:
    May 19, 2008 at 11:23 AM

    I love the cartoon from the link you provided. 🙂 its fantastic.
    Moabite, human beings are such flexible beings that under different circumstances, they can change and adapt accordingly 🙂
    I remember when i came to Jordan first, it was hard work crossing the road and now its second nature:-)

    Jasim said:
    May 19, 2008 at 12:24 PM

    Yeah driving in Jordan is a nightmare. 😀

    When I first started driving, I used to be the gentleman, you know follow the rules and watch out for priorities.

    But now… The priority is always mine, and that goes for everyone around here!

    Nice blog by the way. 😀

    Roger said:
    May 19, 2008 at 1:21 PM

    I think the right is for the one in the circle, the newcomer should stop.. At least that’s what they told me in driving school!

    wasapninjordan said:
    May 19, 2008 at 5:49 PM

    Thanks for the compliment Jasim 🙂 yours is pretty good too 🙂
    With all its faults I still love driving in Jordan 🙂
    thanks for the clarification Roger. appreciated 🙂

    Global Voices Online » Driving in Jordan said:
    May 19, 2008 at 6:06 PM

    […] Jordan, wasapninjordan writes about driving standards in the kingdom. Posted by Amira Al Hussaini Share […]

    travelrat said:
    May 21, 2008 at 12:49 PM

    I noticed the standard of driving last time I was in Amman … but, our driver told us there are very few accidents ‘because we’re always prepared for the other guy to do something stupid’

    evedyahu said:
    May 22, 2008 at 3:39 AM

    Sounds like driving in Korea…just a little bit better :):)

    wasapninjordan said:
    May 23, 2008 at 7:31 AM

    travelrat, i think i might agree with your driver 🙂 the amount of accidents i have seen here is far less than what i had expected. maybe everyone is always prepared 🙂
    evedyahu Korea sounds interesting. I would love to visit. 🙂

    Kane said:
    August 19, 2008 at 2:21 PM

    What are the local police like with speeding fines, I’ve heard that they are pretty casual in Jordan, we were trapped twice last year in South Africa, they sit just at the city limit where you’ve yet to notice the reduced speed limit or slow down sufficiently, little towns in the middle of nowhere after you’ve been doing 120 for hours. Honestly, have they nothing better to do?

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