Being an American

Feel welcome in Jordan

Adam Lichtenheld
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It’s a common misconception that Arabs are hostile toward Americans. Taxi drivers will often react to the news of my nationality with an ehlan wa sahlan (“welcome!” in Arabic) and sometimes an “America good!” (with thumbs up) “Bush bad!” (with thumbs down). I have never felt the need to hide my passport or stitch a Canadian flag onto my backpack. To effectively mesh with the natives, some knowledge of the local language is crucial—Jordanians will appreciate hearing you speak even a few words of Arabic. As long as you’re respectful, open, and friendly, you’ll receive a warm and enthusiastic greeting. Just heed the country’s conservative culture and be sure to dress appropriately—men should resist walking around in tank tops, and women would be wise to keep their legs covered. Unless, of course, you want to attract unwanted (and unfavorable) attention.

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