Thursday, March 04, 2010


Some people have asked me about the safety of visiting the middle East and specifically Jordan. Here are some of my observations.

When we arrived in Paris we made our way to the Royal Air Jordan ticket counter. This was right next to the El Al counter, but the difference between them could not be more stark. The El Al counter was, in short, a fortress. There were four armed soldiers in the vicinity, more outside next to an armored vehicle. There is barbed wire on the roof. Several steel posts are set in the floor so that a cart or large luggage cannot be brought directly to the counter. Just being in the area meant we were observed and studied. Israel takes its security very seriously.

In Jordan there are police checkpoints along major roads. The police have a little pull off area. If they wave at you, you pull over and hand them your ID. I never saw the police chasing people for speeding. The speed limit is more of a suggestion. There is however, a clever method to keep peoples speed in check. About once every mile on all but the largest highways there is a large speed bump. Going over it at high speed would quickly destroy your suspension. Clever.

The American Embassy in Amman is heavily fortified. There are at least 20 soldiers around it. Baracades and pickups with .50 cals on them at either end. But then, this is par for the course in a lot of countries there days.

The airport entrance is also fortified. It seems that regular citizens don't easily enter the area. We had to have someone from the tour company meet up with us on the way there and get in our car.

Like in Egypt hotels have barricades (often disguised as large potted plants) and a quick bomb scan.

All this might make you think its a dangerous place but really it did not feel that way. They are wary about their neighbor to the West, but not paranoid. Jordanians are very friendly and are a big US ally. Hell, the King was once an extra on Star Trek Voyager! I'd have no reservations about going back.