Gaia Tours is one of the main brilliant stories started in Jordan. In 1999, a small group of business men decided to start a small project in travel and tourism business. Over the years, Gaia Tours became one of the leading companies in travel business in Jordan. As travel and tourism company, we had to start doing all kind of travel and tourism business, such as ticketing, hotel reservation, inbound tourism, all kinds of transfers. However, from day one, our main target was the incoming tourism. We hired a staff of the highest qualification and experience to serve our guests groups and individuals. We attended the major travel and tourism exhibitions and fairs worldwide. We own our own cars and vans to transport individuals and very small size groups. For large groups, we work with a local specialized transporter to provide number of modern buses. We did not forget to prepare all our promotional materials as CD's and brochures. Our employees, numbering over 12, are willing to work day and night to make our guests feel as comfortable as they are at home. In addition, we cooperate with a number of tour guides speaking all major languages according to our clients’ needs and reservations. Now, Gaia Tours is serving customers from more than 15 countries. We can say that we are specialized in religious tours ( Muslims and Christians ), Pilgrimage groups, Archeological tours, leisure tours and Incentive Tours. In 2004, we handled more than 20.000 visitors, who came from Italy, Poland, India, Spain, Pakistan, USA, Romania, German, Greece, France and Russia. As well as guests from the rest of Europe and Arab countries. Through our network business partners, we can handle groups and individuals in Jordan and outside it, as in Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In Gaia Tours, we believe that our success was never be true without honesty and loyalty to our customers. Since day one, we have decided to never accept to go with our service below the highest standards. At the same time, we knew that economy is the main element that affecting Tourism business, so we decided to work under a very low margin of profit. At the same, we did our best to get the best rates for hotels and transportation. Gaia Tours is a member of Jordan Society of Travel agents ( JSTT) and Jordan Tourism Board ( JTB ). These day, we can say that our rates are the best in Jordan. Our service complies with the highest quality standards that can be offered. As Gaia Tours, we believe our clients are our friends.
THINGS TO KNOW
Jordan is a truly dynamic country where a rich deep-seated Byzantine history meets a contemporary Arabic lifestyle. Like many Arabic countries, Jordan has an intricate set of cultural sensitivities and habits that travellers are advised to inform themselves about prior to their trip.
What to Wear?
As a general rule, Jordanian men and women are conservative, respectful and traditional dressers. Men wear long trousers and long sleeves even in the heat of the summer, while women are almost never seen wearing short skirts or shorts, instead choosing loose fitting discreet clothes that cover the shoulders, chest, legs and stomach. As a tourist you are not required to follow these habits however keeping your dress-code respectful will help you to feel comfortable during your stay.
Both men and women are advised to wear bottoms that go down past their knees. Covering the shoulders is also recommended not only to respect the local culture but also as sun protection.
When entering religious sites it is especially advised to respect local cultures and dress appropriately, with women advised to cover their hair with a scarf and both men and women recommended to take off their shoes.
Jordan’s working week starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Weekends are Friday and Saturday. Shops are open all week until 10pm, and most also open on the weekend Keep in mind that many Jordanian’s will stop work and close shop for prayer five times a day, especially on Fridays.
Government offices, banks and museums operate from 8am until 2pm, while tourist attractions often alter their visiting hours in accordance to the season. Asking the tourist information officers at the airport or in Amman is recommended.
Jordanian’s love their coffee and sitting with friends to drink this strong black liquid is a popular pastime amongst locals. Emerge yourself in the local coffee culture by tasting the Turkish Coffee traditionally served to guests and visitors. Served in an expresso cup, you can ask for the drink sweet: “hilweh”, medium: “wasat” or bitter: “sada” – just don’t knock it back in one or you’ll get a mouthful of granules which the locals leave to settle, then use to read their fortunes.
The equally popular Arabic coffee, or “Kahwa Arabeya”, is made using cardamom and was traditionally served during big events.
Shopaholics will be delighted by Amman’s buzzing retail options, with everything from traditional souks to modern malls at your disposal.
The souk – or traditional market bazaar – is located in Down Town or Jabal Amman, the older areas of the city which have maintained their air of tradition. For a funky and contemporary twist to the souk concept visit Souq Jara in the hip district of the 1st circle around Rainbow Street. Here the Friday market sees the cities alternative creative types, artists and craftsmen come out to sell their wares. Modernity and style are combined in Swefieh district, as well as at the capital’s American-style malls such as City Mall and Mecca Mall near the 8th circle, or Taj Mall in Abdoun.
The Holy Month of Ramadan is one of the most important events on the Islamic lunar calendar where the majority of the Muslim population of the country fast from sunrise to sunset. Because the Islamic calendar is dictated by the moons orbit around the Earth, Ramadan comes a few days earlier each year. Tania Tours recommends that you check that the dates of your trip to Jordan don’t coincide with Ramadan as working hours are reduced and many businesses and restaurants close during this time. As many locals will be fasting during the day, eating food in public is frowned upon
The local currency is the Jordanian dinar, JOD or JDs for short. Many places will accept US dollars, although money can be changed at the airport, your hotel, banks or currency exchange booths in major cities according to the current rate of exchange. Be aware that hotel currency exchange prices may be higher than other places.
Tourists in Amman are advised to travel by taxi. These yellow vehicles are safe, cheap, convenient and easy to use. Hail a taxi from the street, tell the driver where you are headed and if he’s going that way he’ll take you. Make sure you ask him to turn on the meter at the beginning of the trip.
For travellers looking for more freedom of movement renting a car is also very easy. In Jordan we drive on the right and the traffic can be a bit more disorganised than what you might be used to. Be extra cautious when you use roundabouts and intersections as cars may come out of nowhere.
A great way to travel around the country is by private bus. These buses make daily trips to historical and cultural sights of interest and can be arranged from your hotel or by Tania Tours.
Language and Communication
Although almost everyone in Jordan speaks fluent to proficient English, it is always a nice touch to learn a couple of words in the local language while on holiday. Impress the local Jordanians by practising the following words and expressions in Arabic before you arrive – you’ll be surprised to see how happy and honoured they’ll be to see the extra effort you’ve made to learn their language.
Hello: Marhaba or Al-Salamu Alaikum
How are you: Keef al Hal
Thank you: Shukran
Water: Mayya (stress on the y)
HISTORY & INFO
Forming part of the Fertile Crescent of the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan’s location has played a key role in shaping the destination’s rich history. Once on the receiving end of invasions and conquests from all directions, today the country’s history can be divided into eras according to the ruling empires and dynasties.
Jordan’s biblical past, makes the destination an integral part of what is still referred to as the Holy Land for the Abrahamic religions. The country is home to the baptism site of Jesus Christ and the burial site of the Prophet Moses at Mount Nebo, both of which are popular tourism sites today.
The country’s position on the trade route connecting the Far East to Europe has also impacted its history. This pre-Islamic era between the 1st and the 5th century, saw settlements form in the arid desert areas of the South. During this time there was a strong Roman Byzantine presence in the region and evidence of their temples, theatres, baths and cities can be seen in the ancient city of Jerash or Amman.
The era of the caliphates began after the rise of Islam in the 5th century, followed by the Christian crusades which resulted in the building of the crusader castles in Ajlun, Karak and Shoback. The end of the crusades did not spell the end of war in Jordan, as the Mongols, Mamluks, and Ottomans all showed an interest in the land, leaving the evidence of their rule on the art and architecture.
Jordan finally gained independence in the great Arab revolt during WWI of 1946 which was led by the great grandfather of the current HRH King Abdullah II of Jordan.
CULTURE & PEOPLE
Steeped in a rich and prolific cultural history, Jordan exudes creativity and innovation. Since its mystical ancient roots to today’s vibrant contemporary scene, Jordan nurtures a thriving cultural expression with unique musical, theatrical, gastronomic and artistic characteristics which shape and distinguish the destination.
Jordan’s social and cultural structures have long been influenced by the geographical features of countries location just to the North West of the Arabian Desert. The first Jordanian’s were tribes of nomadic Bedouin sheep herders who roamed the desert in search of water and shade. Many of their cultural practices – from the clothing and accessories, to the social rituals – emerged from a need to survive in the harsh conditions of the desert.
Many of the cultural characteristics which are present in modern day Jordan – such as the genuine hospitality, generosity and genealogical awareness – stem from this Bedouin lifestyle. Today some Jordanian men and Bedouin still wear the traditional Dish Dasheh robes and Hatta scarf tied with a black E‘gaal rope, while women can be seen wearing the traditional Abayas.
Art has been an important part of Jordanian culture throughout its long and colourful history. The Roman Byzantines left behind their detailed mosaics, while the Caliphate conquests encouraged Islamic art in the forms of geometric patterns and calligraphy. Bedouin art can be seen in the dak tattooing tradition and intricate embroidery.
Jordanian cuisine is intrinsically linked to the internationally renowned Levantine cuisine of the region, but with its own unique twists. The speciality of the country is Mansaf – a celebratory Bedouin derived meal of lamb cooked in preserved yogurt and served on a huge platter with rice and roasted pine-nuts. Normally prepared for special occasions, Mansaf is eaten with the hands straight from the platter in keeping with the Jordanian tradition of sharing.
In modern Jordan there is a new culture emerging, the culture of forward thinking, development, entrepreneurialism and growth. However the country and its people fiercely preserve and protect their traditions and heritage so it remains intact for future generations.