Every year in May, I go to a work conference. For the past three years, the Jordan Tourism Board sponsors one of the meals. They give us a nice presentation, show us a slick video, and some attractive Jordanian brunette offers us a free press tour. Last year we also got little bars of olive oil soap.
Usually during the presentation, I’m busy tweeting my disgust at being treated as a marketing demographic. I hate being sold to, for any reason. Even if I love your product, if you give me the hard sell, I’ll walk away. There is a furniture store here in town that I will never walk in to because of their sales philosophy.
In that context, guess where we are going next week? That’s right, Jordan. How is that for irony? I guess it’s not really that ironic since we’re going on our own, paying our own way and not part of anything official.
Jordan is a country I’ve always wanted to visit (along with about 217 other countries, but still). Some of the attraction is the fact that it’s a modern Arab state with more advanced social ideas that some of the other countries in the region. I imagine it would be the middle eastern country I would feel most comfortable in as a woman. I also appreciate their political openness to the West compared to the rest of the region. In addition, the fact that the country is led by a fairly young king and queen is appealing to me.
King Abdullah has pioneered some progressive policies in his nation. I follow his wife, Queen Rania, on twitter. She seems to be the ultimate modern Arab woman, educated and passionate. I love that she’s made education, both at home and abroad, a priority. She’s also a bit of a technology guru. I learned that she worked for Apple in Amman before she met and married the king in 1992. The queen tweets, blogs, uses facebook and has a pretty nice website.
The former queen of Jordan, Queen Noor, was an American before she met and married King Hussein of Jordan. Upon her marriage, she renounced her American citizenship and became Jordanian and Muslim. Apparently there’s a bit of intrigue within the family tree in regard to succession to the king. Queen Noor got the king to put her son next in line for the kingship after Prince Abdullah (now king). But after Abdullah became king, he rearranged the line of succession, making his oldest son (now 15) next to be king.
Enough about that. We basically have no itinerary, but our plan is to spend a few days in Amman, getting to know the city. If there’s time, I hope we can head down to the coastal city of Aqaba (every time I hear this I think of the opening of Aladdin: “Welcome to Aqaba, city of mystery, of enchantment, and the finest merchandise, this side of the river Jordan, on sale today!” Just me? Ok.) We’ll explore Aqaba, and I hope hope we can see Petra. I remember seeing Indiana Jones as a kid and being amazed by Petra. Then later, when I found it was a real place, and not just some movie set, I knew I’d have to see it myself some day.
My husband is one of my very favorite people to explore with, so I’m looking forward to our week among the white stone buildings of vibrant Amman.