Professor Shlaim – King Hussein’s biographer – guides us through the Kingdom’s difficult balancing act, combined with visits to local homes and some wonderful food; a natural follow on from Israel and Palestine.
We explore how the country remains resilient, despite the significant challenges at home and across its borders. It’s home to over a million refugees from Syria and Iraq and could be the first country in the world to run out of water. No visit to Jordan would be complete without seeing its historic sights, from the Roman city of Jerash in the north, to the desert splendor of Wadi Rum and the hidden city of Petra in the south.
|DATES||Monday 23rd September – Tuesday 1st October 2019 (Follows on from Israel & Palestine)|
|DESTINATION||Amman, Jerash, Wadi Rum, Petra|
Led by Professor Avi Shlaim
Single supplement: £500.00
We look at the history of the kingdom whose borders were supposedly drawn up by Winston Churchill on the back of a napkin after the First World War, and its relations both with Israel, and with the Palestinians who make up the majority of Jordan’s citizens.
No visit to Jordan would be complete without taking in some of the key sites it is blessed with, from the Roman city of Jerash in the north, to the desert splendour of Wadi Rum and the hidden city of Petra in the south.
LA Times Middle East reporter Nabih Bulos leads the tour with contributions from leading local analysts.
Single Supplement: £500.00
As with all of our expert-led tours, we ensure that our groups remain small and intimate, and will not exceed 14 people. Flights to Jordan aren’t included in the tour price and should be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent.
As with all of our tours the itinerary focuses on current affairs, and owing to the dynamic nature of politics means that local conditions may lead us adjust the final schedule.
Monday, 23rd September
Meet at 7p.m. for dinner with Nicholas and Karen Wood and Political Tours expert Nabih Bulos. An introduction to the week ahead. Overnight Amman
Tuesday, 24th September: Amman
Introduction to Amman – including the political history of Jordan from the founding of the Hashemites, to the reign of the current King Abdullah – plus a walk around the historic downtown. Learn in-depth about the Jordanian relationship with the Palestinians, from the 1948 to 1967 wars and Black September. We will visit a Palestinian family in their home. Over dinner with guests we discuss the Hashemite balancing act. Overnight Amman
Wednesday, 25th September: Jerash and the new refugees
We drive north for an hour to the historic Greco-Roman city of Jerash and meet with NGO’s and UN agencies dealing with Syrian refugees – of which there are well over 600,000. How does Jordan cope? Learn more on the dilemma faced in managing the refugee situation and what the international community is doing about it. We also look at how the state is combating security threats from Isis and others. Overnight Amman
Thursday, 26th September: The economy, media, and reform
Overview of the economy, to which refugee aid is now a big contributor, whilst the state remains the major employer in the country. We visit key media outlets to discover how Jordan’s press is notoriously self-censored. We meet with former government and court officials who are advocating reform. They argue that the kingdom needs substantive political reform. Dinner with speakers. Overnight Amman
Friday, 27th September
Meetings with government officials to learn about where Jordan is heading now. New hopes are being pinned on a deal that will give Jordan access to the EU’s single market and in turn provide much needed jobs and a boost for the economy; this is in marked contrast to other countries where refugees are barred from work. A visit to a project that teaches computer coding to Jordanians, Syrians and others which has been a major success. Diplomats will talk about the country’s geographical tightrope, sandwiched as it is between Iraq, Israel, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Overnight Amman
Saturday, 28th September: Aqaba and Wadi Rum
Morning 55-minute flight to Aqaba, where we will lunch and receive an introduction to Jordan’s sole port, a vital trade entrepôt that’s located on its 26 kilometres of Red Sea coast. Four countries almost meet at this point and perhaps surprisingly co-operate in a range of areas from commerce to the environment. It’s an hour’s drive from here to Wadi Rum, made famous by the exploits of T.E Lawrence during the First World War, for dinner Bedouin style in the desert. Overnight Wadi Rum
Sunday, 29th September: Wadi Rum and Petra
Day to explore the desert in spring bloom with expert guides before a two-hour drive along part of the kings highway to Petra and the Movenpick Hotel. Dinner in the modern settlement of Petra, then Petra By Night, which involves an atmospheric walk down the ceremonial entrance called the Siq – a 1.5 kilometre long cleft through the rock which is flanked by 1,500 candles for the occasion, all the way to the iconic Treasury façade. Overnight Movenpick Petra
Monday, 30th September: Petra
Full day in Petra with time to explore the highlights of the vast ancient site, which was once the centre of the 2,000 year old Nabatean empire, and was ‘lost’ for 500 years before being rediscovered in 1812. The Nabatean people toiled here carving giant ceremonial buildings from the living rock – like the so-called Theatre, Treasury and Monastery, the Colonnaded Street and the Royal Tombs. At dinner we look back over the tour and Jordan’s prospects in the region. Overnight Movenpick Petra
Tuesday, 1st October: Petra
Tour ends after breakfast.
Dates: Mon 23rd Sept – Tues 1st Oct 2019
Cost £4530.00 Single supplement £500.00
This tour starts in Amman and ends in Petra
The tour includes all of your accommodation, meals with water, as well as local transport whilst on tour. You are accompanied throughout the tour including at meals by your leader and Political Tours team. All meetings with various speakers and guests are included. On any tour you meet numerous different speakers giving you access to all sides of the story. We give you access to political experts, as well as getting to see ordinary life and meet real people in areas less often travelled by tourists.
The tour excludes any flights, visas, transfers from/to the airport, alcohol/other drinks, as well as any of your personal expenses.
Stays in four star hotels and luxury tent in Wadi Rum.
Do I need a Visa?
Citizens of the EU, US, Australia and New Zealand can get a visa on arrival at King Hussein Airport, Amman.
You can get a single entry visa valid for 1 month on arrival at the airports or the Sheikh Hussein/North Border crossing at the Jordan/Israel border.
Check with the Jordanian authorities if you’re planning to cross the Wadi Araba/south border crossing (Aqaba/Eilat) or the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge.
An exit tax, currently 10 JD, is payable at all border crossings, except the airports.
If you wish to combine travel to Jordan with a visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it’s usually better to get a multiple entry visa before you travel from the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in London.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Jordan.
FCO Website – Travel Advice
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes regularly updated travel information on its website www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure. Where it considers it appropriate to do so, the FCO may advise against all travel or all but essential travel to particular countries or parts of particular countries. Similarly, the FCO may withdraw any such previously given advice. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clause 10). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice. It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the FCO may have issued such advice in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. In this case, you will be asked to sign the above form before we confirm your booking.
Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, or the Department of Health in the UK. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx
The 2018 tour starts at the beginning of spring when wild flowers emerge and temperatures stay in the teens. There is a possibility of rainfall and cooler weather on higher ground and in the capital Amman. Further south Wadi Rum and Petra will be warmer with an average daily maximum of 25 degrees celsius during the day and 15 degrees or cooler at night.
Bring light layers for cooler weather in Amman and northern Jordan as well as a raincoat. Women should bring a headscarf for more conservative areas and religious sites. It’s advisable to have comfortable shoes. Parts of the tour will involve walking short distances on unpaved surfaces.
Men: Will need a jacket and tie for some of the meetings.
Women: You will need some smarter attire for one or two meetings.
In Jordan the power sockets fit a standard European two pinned plug. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Nabih Bulos is a correspondent and video journalist for the Los Angeles Times, based between Beirut and Amman. For the last five years, his work has focused on the devastating effects of the Syrian civil war, both on the region as a whole as well as Europe. He was part of the New York Times’s coverage of the so-called “Migrant trail,” following families making the passage from Turkey to Denmark, and was one of the first western journalists to enter eastern Aleppo after it was seized by government forces in 2016. In 2017, he accompanied Iraqi troops throughout their difficult campaign to out the Islamic State from Mosul.
Nabih is also a professional concert violinist and a scuba diving instructor.
This is a new tour to Jordan. Here are some comments from travellers who have been with us on tours to the Middle East and elsewhere.
“Political Tours gets me into corners I wouldn’t otherwise find, be it Karadzic’s watering hole in Belgrade, a courtroom in Pristina to witness an appeal hearing, the lounge in the home of an Italian settler in the West Bank or, this time, coffee with Luis Clerge, a mate of Che’s.”
GH has travelled to Bosnia, Kosovo, Israel & Palestine, and in 2016 to Cuba with Political Tours
“Political Tours introduced me to some interesting people (including fellow travelers); it took me to places and to people I would have never accessed as an ordinary tourist.” MS, Israel & Palestine
“I thought it was beyond excellent – an exceptional introduction to and portrait of a complex, multi-faceted country in just a week. I had high expectations of the tour, having been on a PT before, and there is always a consequent risk that the new tour will not be as good. But it was… and possibly better.” AN, Lebanon
“The tours really take you beyond and behind the headlines, providing you with unexpectedly profound insights about the country.”I thought it was beyond excellent – an exceptional introduction to and portrait of a complex, multi-faceted country in just a week. I had high expectations of the tour, having been on a PT before, and there is always a consequent risk that the new tour will not be as good. But it was… and possibly better.” AN, Lebanon
“These trips bring real, usually politically-connected, people to the table. All of us are free to ask whatever we want and to follow up with tough questions. Reading about situations isn’t even close to finding out things firsthand. There is nothing like being on the ground, face-to face, with people who are making or impacting policy.” ME, Baltics
Background briefing & Recommended reading list
Past to Present
Though there is evidence of human populations in the Levant that date back 90,000 years, what is today Jordan remained three separate kingdoms and trade hubs – Moab, Edom, Amon – until their assimilation into the Roman Empire in 106AD.
Under Roman rule, Christianity spread throughout Jordan, with references to its kingdoms appearing in the Old Testament, before the region was split into the Byzantine Empire, and then conquered by Muslim invaders in the 7th century.
The Ottoman Empire took control of the region in 1516, following centuries of relative calm but largely left it untouched, its only presence being tax collectors that would roll around annually.
In the late 19th Century Muslims fleeing persecution in the Russian Empire arrived and settled in Jordan.
Following the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Britain was mandated by the League of Nations to govern a vast swathe of the Middle East, then known as Transjordan, including what is today Jordan and Palestine. One of Transjordan’s borders took on a jagged concave shape, the so-called “Winston’s Hiccup”, owing to the legend that Winston Churchill, then Minister of the Colonies, drew it on a napkin following a “particularly liquid lunch”.
The country declared independence from British rule in 1946, led by King Abdullah I, a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed – though Britain maintained its influence there. The country changed its name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949 – the official longform name of the country today.
Following a flurry of different kings and their short-lived reigns, King Hussein assumed power in 1952 and stayed there until his death in 1999, overseeing a period fraught with international challenges that he was largely successful in navigating.
The creation of Israel in 1948 led to festering ambivalence between Zionists and Hashemite leaders, though tension was often tempered by both parties’ pragmatism.
In 1967, the Six Day War broke out between Israel and a coalition of Arab states including Jordan. In that conflict Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel, and signed a peace treaty in 1993 having formally relinquished control of the disputed region.
September of 1970 has come to be known as Black September, referring to a dispute that erupted between the Jordanian military and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), that was outraged by Jordan’s ceding of the West Bank. The PLO bolstered its presence in Jordan and carried out attacks against Israel from the country, disregarding Jordan’s sovereignty. The Jordanian Army swiftly surrounded cities with strong PLO presence and forced them out, killing 6400 of its fighters in the process.
King Abdullah II took the reigns following his father’s death in 1999 and began implementing modest reforms, including the passing of a law mandating parliamentary elections in 2016.
The country had seen steady economic success in recent years, with tourism booming. However, widespread conflict in neighbouring Syria causing an influx of refugees and walking the tightrope of Western allies and Arab neighbours beg the question, how can such a small nation cope with such immense external pressure?
Constitution and government
Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
2,100,000 approx Palestinian refugees
654,000 approx Syrian refugees
GDP per capita
92% Muslim (or which 93% identify as Sunni)