Trying to find the safest country in the Middle East is quite similar to picking a needle out of a haystack. In our modern world it would be the equivalent of trying to find an 18 year world without an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smart phone. You really should upgrade if you don’t already have one.
Tragically it seems as if the only things we hear about the Middle East recently contain visions of war, hate, and chaos.
Culturally, the Middle East spreads across geographic borders across Africa all the way to central Asia. Many people I find on the road have never heard of countries whose cultures coincide more with the Middle East more than their European neighbors such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan which all contain over 90% muslims demographically.
Remember the country that Borat was from without Googling it?
Hint… it ends with “stan”
Outside of Saudi Arabia, and now Dubai, no other countries in the Middle East posts significant tourism numbers. With the fresh crises of Syria, Egypt, and now Turkey, many consider trips to the Middle East a trip better planned for never.
Jordan lost $1 billion in tourism revenue in 2011 because of the instability in the region.
There are some countries that have more culturally to see than others. The pyramids and pharaohs of Egypt have long been a dream for many while the bustling capital of Turkey, Istanbul, remains one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
In trying to find the safest country in the Middle East I considered all of the countries in the region but only judged those nations that most of us would likely visit. Most tourists have between two and four weeks of vacation and don’t live a nomadic lifestyle living overseas as I do.
Most of us are never going to visit countries such as Libya, Algeria, or even Saudi Arabia.
While Saudi Arabia posts impressive tourism numbers among Middle Eastern countries remember that most is religious tourism (two of the most holiest cities for Muslims are in Saudi Arabia).
Dubai has set a record in 2012 by receiving over 10 million tourists. We also have to consider that the up and coming city has become the financial and business center of the Middle East. Jordan possesses a considerably higher amount of tourist attractions and things to see than both destinations combined.
If there is one destination to choose in the region it should be Jordan.
Jordan was popularized when Petra was chosen as one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007.
In full disclosure the Jordan Tourism Board sponsored our trip. Many would comment that I did not have a true experience because I was hosted by the tourism board. However, I still actively went out on my own, especially at night, to experience the cities without the guides to meet the people and ensure I got a real taste of the country.
We also ran a contest that involved a one year free training program to learn how to day trade in the stock market. I day trade for a living and is the primary reason why I have been able to travel around the world for so long.
This experience alone and how it was handled by the tourism board also provided insight into the culture of the country.
The first and most important aspect of safety is that most people in the country speak English. I only encountered a small number of people in the rural regions where I had to communicate with my broken Arabic.
Very broken Arabic.
Even then, everyone was kind and courteous and insisted I stay for tea with hand signals if necessary. The most significant change in the country occurred when a peace treaty was signed between Israel and Jordan in 1994. Jordan’s place in the world stage was officially set with the iconic Petra as one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Even President Obama said about Petra, “this is pretty spectacular” and “it’s amazing” according to NBC news. Who wouldn’t believe the words of the wise President Obama?
The demilitarized zone of the Dead Sea is now one of the bustling tourist districts of the country adding to the reasons why it is one of the safest countries now in the Middle East.
The infrastructure throughout the country is extremely modern. Visiting some of the major attractions on our visit all the roads were paved and we didn’t have any issues at all.
I never once felt uneasy or conscious about security. Considering that the region is so close to Israel and even Syria one would think that this would be an issue. The truth is the people of Jordan are very liberal, modern, and social.
I actually felt more uneasy in Israel as there was so much security throughout the country. The similarities between Jordan and Israel are many. Since Jordan relates more to the Arab world there isn’t as much of a concern about security as most of their allies are in the region.
Even with the turmoil continuing to flare in the region I would highly recommend a trip to Jordan. My trip opened my eyes to parts of history that many wouldn’t even consider. The city of Jerash in Northwest Jordan contained one of the best preserved Roman cities outside of Italy.
Jordan is definitely WanderingTrader approved! Look forward to sharing more tidbits of a very unique country I began to like very much.
Is Jordan really the safest country in the Middle East? Visit first and then let me know!
The expression at the top of this article contradicts the point you’re trying to make. Need in a haystack refers to a lot of the same things, hence why its difficult to pick out. It’s easy to pick out Jordan as the safest country in the ME due to the obvious unrest in neighbouring countries.
I would not agree Reem. Many people don’t classify the region differently as you do. You probably state that because you know the region or have been to Jordan. Most other people have not and don’t classify it that way.
You are welcome any time to jordan!
I have been to both Jordan and Dubai.
I rented a car and drove all around Jordan. Unless you have lots of travel experience, I would not recommend doing this. If you are not on the “expressway” around the capital or the airport, there are not only no signs in English, there are no signs. Thankfully there are only three major highways north and south so it is not so easy to get lost.
What I did find was that if I were off the “main” road, kids threw rocks at my car and chased me down the road. Once I was behind a tour bus heading south to Petra and as it went through the towns on the way, men would shake their fists and heave stones at the bus as it went by. It was pretty shocking.
Once I arrived at any place with historic or cultural significance, people were more accepting as either there were other tourists around or they were used to seeing them. To generalize my experience (which was not sponsored, controlled or directed by the tourist board) was that as long as tourists stayed to those general areas, things were easier. If you went off the beaten path to see something obscure, there was overt hostility and physical danger.
I only had a total of an ten hour overnight layover in Dubai so I was able to walk along the creek early in the morning and go to the spice market where I was repeatedly groped by a shopkeeper. If I were not a woman alone, that might not have happened.
What happened in Jordan had more to do to the attitude against tourists than being there on my own.
There were several things I did not get to do in the week I was there, so I will just have to go back. 🙂
Sorry you had those issues Pamm but kids will be kids. I didn’t have that kind of experience at all. I would be curious to know how long ago you went. All of my friends that have been to Jordan as well didn’t have any issues and actually have praised the people for being so kind and gracious.
This is a really interesting article! and even more interesting hearing Pamm’s comments. I guess everyone has a different experience no matter what the country is. A friend of mine had gone to Jordan on a tour and had said she really enjoyed it but wouldn’t of done it without a tour.
Its a massive shame to think the entire world can’t be discovered because of danger – but good to know some countries are coming along 🙂
Thanks for the article and I look forward to reading more about the Middle East!
Hi Marcello, I’m huge fan of the Middle East and I have to say, when I saw the title of this post, I wasn’t sure I should read it. But after seeing the point you’re making – that you’re talking about those countries more popular with tourists, I do agree with you. Of course Qatar and Kuwait are very age countries, but hey, who would go to Kuwait as a tourist? I was probably the only one in history! Hehehe Now, seriously, another very interesting country, very safe, without the annoying scams you get in Egypt, Morocco or Tunisia, is Oman. It’s different from other Gulf countries, as it didn’t go crazy building skyscrapers. It’s feels like old time Arabia, it is politically stable it’s people are some of the best I’ve met on my travels…
I have always been fascinated by the Middle East and I am making a point to go to at least 3 countries in the region on my RTW trip. Jordan is one of the those countries,and I will probably got there first because it is the “safe choice.” I also want to visit Oman and the UAE – maybe even Yemen if I feel adventurous enough.
Definitely want to head there myself as well Erike!
“Illegally climbing to the top of the monastery at the Petra complex in Jordan”
Haha, seems like something I would do to get the better picture and or view =P
Nice Blog Marcello!
Many traveler think Jordan is risky for traveling but I think Jordan is paradise for traveler.
Jordan is small and beautiful country, blessed with a bountiful array of geographical and geological features which support diverse and beautiful ecosystems. Petra has been chosen as one of 31 beautiful sights on this planet by CNN.
Awesome sight I follow it hoping one day I can live the life. But for now I’m stuck in Cheyenne living life vicariously through the day traders.
The WanderingTrader’s Ricky! lol
The crisis touched Jordan last years and many tourism workers f.ex. guides start working in bezness(sex traffiking) and try to scam tourists so Jordan is not 100% safe for travellers.This is a site against Jordan scammers.Maybe better to know before visiting Jordan.
Lisa there are scammers in all parts of the world not just in Jordan. I don’t think it is that serious.
Marcello I understand that your trip was sponsored by Jordanian Tourism Board so you haven’t seen children beggars in Jordan and you don’t know about human trafficking because it’s not nice so why to know about it what harm our eyes. Better to travel and promote 🙂 You claim that scamming is not serious ,sure not but for the scammer not for victims. But better to know who is the scammer to avoid danger and to enjoy the trip. 🙂 The site on FB Stop the Petra bedouin women scammers.
You know, lisa. I know this was posted 2 years ago, but I have to say, please check your information before posting things like this. Jordan is currently a Tier 2 country, with 1 being this Best tier. What that means is yes, they do not have all the things in place to be completely compliant, but the government is actively trying to correct this daily!
NOW, onto the topic…
Jordan is amazing! I am an American female. I visited Jordan, and I never felt scared or concerned. I drove from North to South and I swear, I thought I was in the USA. The roads are amazing and most of the signs are in English and Arabic.
I did visit some of the smaller cities, like Ma’an and Tafila. What I can tell you about those cities is yes, their signs are in Arabic, but for the most part, a very calm and kind country overall.
I even went into Sahab, a locale outside of Amman that is primarily Egyptians. It is known as a not safe area. My friend worked there, so I visited there quite often. I never felt scared or concerned. I did have a taxi driver follow me, cuz he wanted to make money. But, I walked into the restaurant I was going to for lunch and no problem.
Even now, Jordan is still safe! Jerash, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqabah, the Dead Sea, Jesus Baptism Site, all amazing places and worthy of a once in a lifetime visit!
I would agree with you Melinda…. Jordan is a fantastic country
I visited Jordan a couple of years ago with my partner and have to agree that I found it very safe. We travelled round the country for two weeks using public buses, not on an organised tour, and everyone we met were friendly and helpful.
you are welcome Emma … jordan is the safest country and the people is very friendly.
This nation is front and centre on my list for places I want to see in the Middle East, but I worry about the Syrian war and the influence of ISIS … I heard that some fighting is getting dangerously close to its borders. I hope they can repel the threats, as this country is too beautiful and filled with wonder to fall to this chaos…!
Jordan will be affected with the burden of taking on refugees from Syria unfortunately. It is still a beautiful and safe country to visit right now. Would recommend you go now until things get worse.
I am glad you all rate for my country ”Jordan”!!!
I work for a travel agency in Aqaba, Jordan, and we have seen a huge decline in tourism in the past few years due to the situation in surrounding countries. It’s a real shame that people are scared to visit such an interesting place, when there really is no problem here. I have read here a few ppl have had problems when off the beaten track – but I can assure you that this is a minority in the country and not the majority. We did have a few incidences last year when buses were being attacked in Ma’an during a protest. But thankfully all has been resolved since then and it’s business as usual.
Thank you for your great write up and helping to spread the word that Jordan is still safe for tourists. Let’s hope that more people hear about this and start to come back to this beautiful country.
There are 16 countries in the middle east. 12 countries in middle east are arab countries. In arab culture, men’s rights over women’s rights. I don’t recommend that you go to arab countries. 4 countries are non-arab in the middle east. Cyprus, Israel, Iran and Turkey. In Israel there isn’t enough safe. In Iran you can’t go many places with your partner. In eastern turkey, There are many prblem with kurd people. I think Cyprus is the best country in the middle east.
The middle east is not good for women. Women are forced to be muslims and the men treat the women horribly. I would not give a dime to any muslim country until women, Christians and Jews are as free as the muslim men are.
My husband and I are going to Dubai in February for his biz. trip and would like to extend our stay in the region to explore a bit, since we have never been to the middle east. Your comments on traveling in Jordan sounds very intriguing. However, as a woman, I want to know how it would be like for me. We have traveled in Turkey extensively and often found myself to be the only female out and about during the day, not to mention in the evening, unless you are in a big cities. I didn’t have any safety issues and enjoyed the time there much, but, there were some unconfortable or awkward situations. (I assume Jordan would be more Islamic country than Turkey.) Could you give me some insights? Thank you!
Dubai and Jordan have quite a bit of females on the streets and are two of the most laid back countries in the Middle East (with respect to women). You should be fine in those two countries.
The fact you write that makes me angry that the world has not banned going to the middle east like it did with South Africa during Apartheid. Muslim countries practice their own apartheid with women. Disgusting that we show favor to any of them.
While being in Wadi Rum, be especially careful. Recently there increased a number of cases when foreign girls and women were scammed by the local Bedouins. Through charm, sweet words and beautiful lies they try to take all your money. Scamming is growing very rapidly in this region.
Also, planning your trip to Jordan, be especially careful dealing with such volunteer/work exchange sites as http://www.couchsurfing.org, http://www.hospitalityclub.org, http://www.helpx.net, and http://www.workaway.info, as they are often used by the Jordanian scammers. Bedouins will kindly invite you to stay at their home. In exchange of food and accommodation you will be offered to help them with the tourists and website. Then slowly you will find yourself being in love and even in romance relationship with one of them.
If it has already happened, you are in danger! Contact the Tourist Police immediately and stop the connection at once. Don’t trust these people. It is for your own safety.
Hey coming to help the KUrds and funding the mission from our own pockets…Day trading could be a good way to help us,32 Americans and less Brits ,Aussies,and Dutch .We are helping the Assyrians,the Kurds and yezitis as much as our budget will allow as they flood the region .Any advise would be appreciated
Who wouldn’t believe the words from the “wise” Obama? Me for millions I don’t believe a word the man says. Using him as a reason to come to Jordan just hurt your country.