MY EXPERIENCE AT AMMAN QUEEN ALIA AIRPORT
Petra is a new wonder of the 7 wonders of the world. Petra in Jordan is what Great Pyramids are in Egypt. This is why I couldn't skip visiting Jordan. Even though the country has loads of historical landmarks and UNESCO world heritage sites, Petra is the country's most prominent place.
Petra isn't the only reason why I decided to visit Jordan. In my journeys, I enjoy immersing myself in foreign cultures, eating foreign food, exploring national mentalities of local people, and of course, visiting a country's most popular and famous historical places. Thus, all these factors made me travel to Jordan.
Before finally deciding to go to Jordan and booking my ticket, I made a meticulous research regarding safety in Jordan. Nowadays, visiting some of the Middle Eastern countries isn't quite safe. Therefore, I gathered all the information, read reviews of travelers and tourists who have visited Jordan in recent years, read forums, and did other types of research.
I noticed that a lot of tourists mentioned the rudeness of Jordanese airport customs officers. Some travelers mentioned a lot of questions and even interrogations at Amman, Jordan airport.
I understand that dealing with police and state security service is nowadays a part of international travel. If you want to travel extensively around the world, you have to be psychologically ready to be questioned, interrogated, and even arrested. You know that very often tourists and travelers are suspected of espionage, terrorism, and other things. A solo Muslim backpacker is a much greater suspect to security services than a married American couple in their late fifties.
My bus from Anakra to Antalya
Thus, after some time of reading and researching, I made the final decision to visit Jordan. Those days, I was having a holiday in a resort in Antalya.
I prefer hitchhiking, but when hitchhiking is dead, you have no options but to ride a bus
I booked an air flight to Amman, Jordan from Ankara.
Waiting for my flight to Amman, Jordan in Esenboga, Ankara airport
Why from Ankara? Because flights to Amman, Jordan from Ankara are much cheaper than flights from Istanbul or Antalya.
MY ARRIVAL AT AMMAN QUEEN ALIA AIRPORT
After a short 2-hour flight from Ankara, my plane landed in Amman. All the passengers had to walk a little bit until we reached the counters.
At first, there are two counters with the headings "Jordan Pass" and "Visa on Arrival". You choose your counter according to the method of entry you prefer. Before coming to Jordan, I bought Jordan Pass that gives you free entry to all historical and sightseeing landmarks across the country and also waives your visa fees. If you don't have Jordan Pass, you have to pay for a visa that costs 60$.
I chose the "Jordan Pass" counter. Two officers were sitting at the counter. I gave them my smartphone with the Jordan Pass QR code. After reading the QR code, one of the customs officers stamped my passport with a visa. These men were quite polite.
Then, I went to the second passport control point. An officer took my passport and screened my eyes. He was quite rude, flexed, and quite suspicious. He asked me in Arabic "You came from Turkey?" I confirmed the place of my departure. His question sounded like Turkey is a terrorist or an enemy destination and everyone coming from Turkey is a potential threat to the security of Jordan.
Jordanese people boast that their national security services are the most efficient among Arab countries after Egypt. In my opinion, all it takes to be efficient is to be more suspicious and target every suspect.
The officer asked me the following questions: "Do you know anyone in Jordan?", "Why did you come here?", "Where will you stay in Jordan?" He sounded rude. I know that being hospitable isn't a trait of state security officers. Their work is to suspect. However, even if you suspect every single tourist and traveler, you can also do it more politely. I answered that I came to travel, and I didn't know anyone in Jordan. As for my place of stay in Jordan, I replied that I would be in different hotels.
After this small "interview", the officer took my passport and told me (he raised his voice and it sounded like he was shouting) "Go there" while pointing to a nearby room. My initial experience was very negative, and I even had a feeling of regret about coming to Jordan. I had no idea what would happen next. In the past, I was denied entry to some countries, and therefore, I always expect the worst to happen.
I went to a nearby room at which the officer pointed. A small crowd of people was also waiting there. Their passports were taken too. All were foreigners of different nationalities and religions, bearded and beardless. At the moment, all the passports were beings checked in the nearby room. One by one, people were loudly called by their names and surnames. An officer would question them near the office room.
After approximately 10 minutes, I heard my name and surname. I approached the cabinet and an officer asked me the following questions: "Why did you come to Jordan?", "What is your profession?", "How long and where are you going to stay in Jordan?". I said that I was a web designer and digital marketer and gave my business card to the officer. As for the purpose of my arrival, I answered that I bought Jordan Pass and was planning to visit all the historical landmarks of Jordan. Regarding my place of stay, I just said that I would stay in different hotels across Jordan.
The officer hastily listened to me and then entered the cabinet. After approximately 5 minutes, he came back with my passport and told me that I could go.
This was the final stage and I was allowed to enter the country. I passed all the counters, exited the airport and everything else is a story of another blog post.
I exited Amman Queen Alia Airport and started hitchhiking right away
Jordan is situated in a very troubled region. Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, several wars in the past, spies, terrorists, radicals, and many other things put a lot of pressure upon state security in Jordan. It is understandable why the aura is so tense in Amman Queen Alia Airport. The troublesome region shaped the mentality and worldview of these airport custom officer. In their thinking, every incoming tourist and traveler is a potential spy, instigator, and threat to their national security. This thinking goes up to the level of serious paranoia.
Frankly, my experience at the Queen Alia Amman airport wasn't positive. This wasn't an Islamic hospitality a Muslim would expect while arriving in an Arab country. At the same time, I realize that we are living in a dangerous and traitorous world.
As for simple Jordanese people, they are the most hospitable people in the world. A 5-minute long conversation with someone will be sufficient to get invited to your interlocutor's home. Hospitality is a part of their culture. They love and respect guests. I will tell more about it in some o my future blog posts.
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