Jordan Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Jordanians are rather conservative in business matters and do not like to make quick decisions. For them, trust and personal contact are an important part of business, and they usually prefer them to risk, even if it is associated with the prospect of greater or immediate profit. For them, long-term good relationships are a priority, but even in the case of positive experiences, they are in no hurry to develop them further. They prefer to let a successful business run in the rut for a while before they are inclined to explore other options. Things in Jordan take time, long thinking or delayed responses to offers or inquiries do not automatically mean lack of interest, and patience can definitely pay off.

Addressing

The best opportunity is certainly to be approached as part of thematically focused events, such as fairs, conferences, business forums, etc. Another way is to find a trustworthy intermediary who already has the necessary personal contacts. In Jordan, reaching out and arranging a meeting through the embassy is also important. It is also possible to ask for the cooperation of one of the local chambers of commerce. A direct first contact by e-mail or telephone without personal contact or recommendation is not in any way inappropriate, but the use of the above-mentioned methods clearly increases the probability of success.

  • Programingplease: Yearbook 2010 of nation Jordan, including population, politics, and abbreviations.

Business meeting

After showing mutual interest, it is possible to arrange a meeting by e-mail, by phone, or even via WhatsApp, which is an increasingly frequent, popular and fastest communication channel. It is advisable to inform each other in detail about who exactly will participate in the meeting and, if necessary, specify the topic. It is customary to confirm the meeting the day before it takes place and to arrive on time or even a little early. The exchange of business cards at the beginning is expected as a matter of course. It is not necessary to give gifts, but it can be a nice attention, for example a trinket made of Czech glass is suitable, but not intended for alcoholic drinks, and definitely not alcohol directly. It is common courtesy to initially decline a gift, you are expected to insist on accepting it. Interrupting the meeting to deal with other matters (mainly phone calls) is quite common and is not perceived as impolite.

In Jordan, the working week starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Suggesting a meeting on a Friday, which is a major holiday, is extremely inappropriate. If possible, it is definitely better to avoid meetings during religious holidays (and not just Ramadan). Meetings can be held both in offices and in restaurants. If it is a meeting in Jordan, it is appropriate to leave the choice of the meeting place to the Jordanian counterpart. If you invite your Jordanian partner to a restaurant in the Czech Republic, it is important to make sure that the menu also offers dishes that do not conflict with Islamic dietary rules (fish or vegetables are a certainty).

A number of Jordanian businessmen studied and worked in Europe or the USA, which facilitates mutual understanding. It is possible to meet that some of them have bigger ambitions than they can finally realize. It does not have to be an attempt at fraud, but rather an overestimation of one’s own possibilities. A friendly and even very cordial atmosphere of negotiations is important for Jordanians, and expressions of mutual respect are expected. A hesitant yes, but it can also turn into a polite no, and the enthusiasm shown during negotiations may not lead to real results. Negotiating the price can have the character of haggling accompanied by more emotions than is usual for us, which should not be taken personally. It is tactical to allow room for a discount from the beginning, so that there is room to retreat and both parties can feel satisfied.

The more educated Jordanians are usually very tolerant of European ways and other religions, and even if they are personally conservative Muslims, they expect respect for their own faith and customs in return. A Jordanian businessman probably won’t have a problem conducting a meeting with a woman, but it will certainly lighten the atmosphere if both teams are gender-balanced, regardless of who is conducting the meeting. Similarly, even age representation can help. The number of members depends on the type of meeting, expect more from the Jordanian partner. To avoid possible embarrassment, it is better to know and adapt the composition of the delegation, it is not considered intrusive to ask in advance.

It is important to take into account that for a Jordanian counterpart (male and female) shaking hands with a person of the opposite sex, as well as any other slightest physical contact, may be unacceptable for religious reasons. This situation should not be taken personally, in no way is it an expression of disrespect. Offering a handshake should generally be approached with restraint, under no circumstances should a woman offer her hand. The counterpart usually tries to avoid the awkward situation of rejecting an offered hand by showing respect by bowing slightly with the right hand placed on the heart. If the person uses this bow, be sure not to offer your hand and greet in the same manner. It is also completely inappropriate to offer alcohol during business meetings. Although some Jordanians drink it, it is not a common and widely accepted social norm. For some conservative Muslims, even sitting at the table is impermissible,

Standard formal European attire is ideal for meetings in Jordan. At least the upper arms are expected to be covered in Jordan for both men and women. If a woman wears a skirt, it is a sign of decency and respect that it is at least knee length. There’s no need to cover your hair, some Jordanian women don’t do it either, and no one expects it from a European woman. Being invited home is not unusual, but neither is it expected as a matter of course. It usually comes only as part of deepening contacts and long-term good relations. It is appropriate to come with a flower and a representative box of chocolates.

Communication

Not knowing Arabic is not a significant obstacle for doing business in Jordan, in the vast majority of cases it is possible to act without an interpreter in English. It is usually possible to communicate with state authorities, but it is basically a matter of course for traders. English is a relatively common part of life in Jordan, especially in the capital Amman. A few polite Arabic phrases can significantly improve the impression, especially when meeting in person. In Jordan, it is standard practice to use the first name in connection with the address of Mr. or Mrs. (Mr. Jan, Mrs. Jana) or even an academic title (Dr. Youssef, etc.) during the first contact (even in writing). Negotiations begin with a series of non-business pleasantries, getting straight to the point is considered impolite and impetuous. A foreigner is expected to appreciate local sights, hospitality, cuisine, etc., it is definitely appropriate to refrain from all criticism. Jordanians are proud of their country and it is a very personal matter for them if someone comments on its shortcomings. It is absolutely inadmissible to criticize the king and the royal family in any way, and it is counterproductive to comment on the domestic political and economic situation of the country. Given Jordan’s complicated position in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is strategic to avoid this topic and Middle East politics in general. The issue of ethnicity is also a sensitive topic. The majority of the population of Jordan is of Palestinian origin, some Jordanians like to connect with the original culture, for others it is not pleasant. The forbidden topic of conversation is the wife, mother, daughters and generally the female part of the family or specific family matters. It is completely unacceptable to disparage Islam, religious practices and belief in God in general. Tolerance and the respect shown especially towards Christianity, which is represented in the minority in the country, are both widely spread, especially among the educated class, and also the official policy of the king. But one must be very careful with atheism and it is best to avoid this conversation on the subject altogether. With the advent of the pandemic, the online form of communication has become very widespread in Jordan, especially in the private sphere. However, personal contact is still definitely a better option if possible. Communication by e-mail is fine, but expect delays in responses. Things usually get done faster over the phone. In Jordan, even in formal relationships, communication via WhatsApp etc. is quite common and popular, even before the first meeting. The response is definitely more flexible than via e-mail.┬áVisit Animalerts for more information about Jordan culture and traditions.

Recommendation

Access to the Jordanian market is quite complicated for a foreign company, the choice of a reliable local partner is often the deciding factor. Local chambers of commerce can provide helpful advice. Negotiations in Jordan require a lot of patience and putting up with lengthy bureaucratic procedures as well as possible time delays in the partner’s reactions. After each meeting, it makes a good impression to respond with a written appreciation/thank you for the meeting, especially in the case of government officials. It is essential to respond to possible cultural differences with an open mind and not take any setbacks personally, they are usually not intended as an insult. Against our standards, an email address from common browsers is not necessarily a sign of dishonesty, sometimes even government officials use it for work purposes. Even larger and established companies can have poor quality or no website at all.

Public Holidays

Public holidays with a fixed date are New Year’s Day (January 1), Labor Day (May 1), Independence Day (May 25), and Christmas (December 25). An integral part of life in Jordan are religious holidays, the timing of which changes depending on the lunar calendar. If not directly off, working hours are usually reduced during their duration, with many people also taking a holiday. The official days off during these holidays are determined in advance rather approximately, specific dates are often announced at the last minute according to the decision of local religious authorities and therefore may differ slightly in different countries. The Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) will take place in Jordan in 2022 at the turn of the second and third week of July. The Islamic New Year will likely fall on July 30, 2022, Prophet Mohammed’s birthday should be celebrated on the 8th.

Jordan Culture of Business