This is a response to an editorial published in the Jordan Times newspaper by a tourist who recently visited Jordan.
First of all, thank you for sharing your opinion. I specifically appreciate the token “in Jordan people are very friendly and hospitable” as a introduction to your critique of exactly how Jordanian are not friendly and not hospitable.
Thanks for coming to our country and spending your valuable Euros in our hotels, tourist sites, and restaurants. We appreciate the financial support, especially during these difficult financial times.
Jordanians and Arabs in general are some of the most welcoming people in the world. Guests are treated as royalty. But there is a point when your welcome is over.
As for the rudeness, foul stench, and donkey races, we are very sorry that your experience wasn’t that of the other 100 sites you’ve been to. We sincerely apologize for ruining your Oriental view of Arabs, and their ability to entertain guests. We are sorry it didn’t live up to that article you read in some travel magazine about a Bedouin butchering a lamb in your honor as you arrived in Petra. We apologize that you stepped in some dung.
See, dearest Ekker, the problem isn’t the rudeness, the fragrances, or the animals – but rather the problem is the arrogance and imperialistic nature of which most European and American tourists tour around our land with. See, when hordes of tourists come everyday, the welcome starts to ware out. When the tourists come and use our precious water, drive prices through the roof, and push intelligent Jordanians into remedial jobs like cleaning your hotel rooms, your experience will most notably suffer.
Just because USAID pays for tourist projects, doesn’t mean that everyone wants water-wasting, energy-intensive, and environment-damaging groups poking through our ancient lands. Just because eco and tourism becomes eco-tourism, and sustainable gets tacked onto development, doesn’t make it true.
For those of us who live here and this is our home, we don’t welcome the damage you cause.
So next time someone ignores you, or doesn’t bow in your royal presences, think twice about why that is. And even if they do, it isn’t because they are welcoming you, but more likely that you’ve taught “those very young girls” who were “very hard to get rid of” that white, European tourist means one thing: money.
Read Ekker’s opinion below.
My wife and I traveled to Jordan in May. Of course we considered visiting Petra, which, we thought, would become the highlight of our trip.
Although I first hesitated, I would like to share our experience in Petra with your readers.
First, I must tell you that both in Syria and in Jordan people are very friendly and hospitable. In Petra, however, everybody was behaving as if they were sick and tired of tourists. No smiles, no good mornings, etc.
End of season perhaps.
May 22 was a Friday, so a busy day, we thought. We started early. Bought two tickets from a silent man at the counter. Our Jordanian driver had told us that once there, one could hire a guide and that individuals (not groups) had to pay JD20 for that service. I went to the counter with my JD20 and asked for a guide, showing my money.
The man started to shout immediately: “Cannot you read”?
Not wearing my reading glasses, I told him what our driver had told us. He declared that both our driver and we were crazy, that the price was JD50.
We decided to go without a guide.
After the silent ticket vendor, we came immediately under the attack of donkey, horse and camel riders, who would inform us how far to the monastery or, on the way back, to the exit we were. It never stopped. Very young girls begged us to buy postcards. It was not easy to get rid of them.
Walking around in Petra is not a simple thing. You have to watch your step and to warn your companion constantly not to step in animal dung. The place is covered with it. If you close your eyes, you get the impression you are visiting a large cattle farm. The nasty smell of animal waste is all the time in your nostrils.
We were lucky to visit Petra on the final day of the donkey race championship. Groups of young boys were racing all over the place, trying to hit their animals as hard as possible, all the while shouting, ignoring tourists completely.
The traffic rules are simple: all animals and their drivers have priority. You have to get out of the way. A few times we were about to be run over.
After our five-hour visit, we realised that Petra was far from a highlight. I visited nearly 100 countries, many historical sites. Petra was a disappointment.
If the Nabataeans could see how guests are received in their glorious city, they would feel ashamed.
As I stated before, I hesitated before telling my story, but in the interest of Jordan, Petra and future tourists, I chose to share it.
Perhaps some changes will happen in Petra.A.H. Ekker,