Jordan

View from markaz MALIC, N. gate UJ, Amman, Jordan

Why Jordan?

The kingdom does have its political, economic and social issues. However, in modern history, Jordan is the most stable Arabic-speaking country in the Near East.   Another positive is that most people will understand you if you speak in *fusha*. Sand fans will also be happy.

Why not Amman?

The political and business capital of Jordan is one of the most expensive cities in the Middle East. Having said that, it really depends on your lifestyle. If you can live on humous and falaful then (for a short period) there is not much difference in cost between it and other locations. Plus Amman has, perhaps disproportionately, most of the services and entertainments (as compared to other parts of Jordan).

Course Providers

Language Center or UJLC (also known as the International Institute. In Arabic, *al-markaz al-lughat le-ta3leem al-lugha al-3arbeya le-naatikeen beghairehaa*).
Close to the main and north gates, University of Jordan, University Street (or I think officially known as Queen Rania Street nowadays), Jubeiha, (North-West Amman).

Have an active Facebook page.

UJ Clock Tower
If you go for normal classes then the three month fall (Winter) and Spring semester (term) is 1300 JD and the up to two month (somewhat intense or condensed) Summer semester is 900 JD. 16 hours a week.

UJ Restaurant
Here the style of the teachers is to lecture as opposed to teach, but it depends on your teacher. Also, I would say that the fall and spring semesters are better than the summer semester.
The courses are generally more focussed towards learning vocabulary, practicing speech and the knowledge you gain is rather random.
Perhaps the main benefit here is the cultural experience. Class sizes range between 5 and 25. From levels 4 and up, tuition is in pure modern standard Arabic.

Jordan University Library

Ewan institute
New, and similar to UJLC, but better organised. The teachers are qualified in Arabic. Maximum class size is fifteen students. Programme includes an hour for conversation every day. Located near the north gate, next to the Body Life gym and opposite the Troy gym.

Ali Baba International Center (Arabic Language Institute)1
Offers monthly MSA courses and covers all the skills, including writing and speaking.
Taught by skilled and professional teachers and especially good if you are short on time. Class size is no more than 10.
For one month it's 1000 USD. 20 hours a week (four hours a day). For longer period bookings, there may be a discount, definitely ask.
Located on the first floor inside a building called Khalifah, which is opposite the front of the university, close to the McDonalds. The building also houses American coffee shops (Gloria Jeans) and a couple of banks (non-retail I think).

Ali Baba Library
Membership is required. Price depends on length of time required, e.g 3 JDs/day, 20 JD for a month, 50 JD for three months. Students of the Ali Baba Centre get in for free. Located on the fourth floor inside the same building (see above).
Also, part-time courses are taught here such as European and Oriental languages.

University Street

Arabic Community College (Ask for the language centre, which teaches Arabic to non-speakers...)
(On a hill near the South gate and opposite the University hospital). Specialises in *ehraab* (grammar analysis/parsing) and the cheapest place to begin *fusha* studies. Teachers are very active and friendly too.
Levels 1 and 2 are Modern Standard Arabic, but levels 3 and 4 are Classical Arabic. The book they use is called *bayna yadayk*2
Class sizes can range between 3 and 30. For 4 months the price is 500 JD. 15 hours a week. You can also enroll for half a term (2 months) and pay 300. For an additional 50 JDs they will help process your residency visa for you

Qasid
Has a good reputation and teaches all the levels. Located in an office block (down the road from the University), near Mukhtar mall. USD 2645 per term.
22 Queen Rania Street, Suite 300 Amman, Jordan.

CLC Amman (MEET Amman)
office::@clcamman.com
Specialises in Jordanian Colloquial Arabic (JCA). One-to-one tuition for 9 JD per hour.
Focus is on speaking (no writing except for advanced level) and uses the Growing Participator Approach. On Medina Street (*sharia medina munawwara*), in the same building as one of the VIP mini supermarkets, near the Eye hospitable (*mustashfa 3ooyoon*).
Building 248, 2nd floor. Stairs at the back corner (next to a gym).

Ahlan Jordan
Located inside the Arab Cultural Center (*al-markaz al-thaqaafe al-arabe*) in jabal webdeh. Near the mosque.
Follows the al-Kitab system.
MSA: $150 for every two weeks.
JCA: $95 (and $50 if done with MSA).
Private: $20/hour with an experienced teacher. $15/hour with a trainee.

French Institute
Near the Paris circle in jabal webdeh.
Offer courses for Jordanian Colloquial Arabic. If you are only in the country for one month and are a beginner to Arabic, then this could be the place for you. Also, if you are staying for the long-term and arrive in the Summer, then you might want to begin your Arabic journey here before focusing exclusively on MSA.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Knowledge Society (TAG)
Located somewhere on Mecca street.
This is a flexible learning centre ideal for group study. Also offer courses, e.g. IT, Chinese.

University of Zarka (in Zarka town).
Cheaper than UJ and accommodation is a lot cheaper too. I'm told a decent studio costs less than 200 JDs a month. It's fine, as long you don't mind the non-existence of cinemas and western fast-food joints.

University of Yarmook (in Irbid).
No information, except that the north of Jordan is generally greener.

Should visit them all and then decide. They are all different sizes and not all have the same facilities.


Religion

While in the Middle East, some decide to study the religion of Islam. (Personally, I advise completing Arabic studies first).

Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Jordan

Taught in English (and Jordanian Colloquial Arabic), a masters programme for Islamic studies.

  • Covering a range of topics, including:
    • Islamic History
    • The Da'wah and Spread of Islam
    • Islamic Civilisation
    • Islam and the West
    • Research Methodology in Islamic sciences
    • Islam and Contemporary Issues
  • Electives:
    • Islam and Human Civilisation
    • Islamic Sciences
    • Islam and Interfaith Dialogue
    • Islamic Systems
    • Muslim Civil Society
    • Contemporary Islamic Movements
    • Islamic Philosophy
    • Arts and Architecture in Islam


Closer to home (for some) is the Muslim College (London, UK), which offers an MA in Islamic Studies. (Also taught in English).

Dr Faissal Hameed lectures in history and I can at least recommend him.

The programme includes:

  • Theology & Philosophy
  • Qur'an & Hadith Studies
  • Islamic Jurisprudence
  • Islamic History & Civilisation
  • Arabic Language & Literature
  • World Religions
  • Western Philosophy


Social

Jordan is becoming popular with students from Turkey. This can be an opportunity to practice your MSA as most of them are not fluent in English, though some of them will want to practice any English they do know (just as some Arabs do).

If you become friends with them then do a deal. Agree that you will all communicate in MSA and then after the end of term you will teach them English and they can teach you Turkish. One problem you may come across is that when there are more than two Turks in a gathering then quite often the conversation will turn Turkish :(

There is no remedy for this except to not spend too much time socialising and head for the library as soon as you are done with eating or drinking tea. Turks can be very hospitable, even more than Arabs, and you need to remain disciplined.

Alternatively, if you are also planning to learn Turkish some day then before setting out to Jordan, you might consider spending a month in Turkey to get the ball rolling. This way you can learn Arabic and improve your Turkish, at the same time in Jordan :)


Accommodation

A problem for some students is finding suitable accommodation. Indeed, the wrong accommodation becomes a distraction and means that you do not make the most of your time in an Arabic environment.

All sorts of accommodation exist in Amman. Around the university a decent furnished studio will generally cost between 200 and 300 JDs a month.

There are halls of residence near the University for girls only (and significantly cheaper too).

If you find an area you like and walk around you will see signs on buildings (avoid signs on lamp-posts, etc, they are usually at some distance from the accommodation being advertised).
Some people call up advertisements in a newspaper. I never tried.
Another way is if you like the look of a block of flats then enquire with the care-taker/guard (*haaris*). He usually lives in the basement.

Outside of summer, Amman can get very cold and you especially feel it when you are in-doors (and not under the sunshine). Some places like *sakan nafe* have their own heating (air conditioning type), which does the job, whereas other places will be COLD unless you buy a GAS heater, (which can be more dangerous to use so do take care). An alternative is an oil heater, but these take time to heat up. Perhaps the most comfortable option is to have two types of heaters.

As well as good places there are also a lot of shabby, run-down and cow-boy built places around the university - so beware.

Another thing, do not believe a landlord when he says he will buy you something or fix something. He will probably get round to it just before you leave. Of-course not all land-lords are the same.

Alternatively, if you are in the country for one or two months you might want to consider a hotel that offers discounts for longer stays.

Hotels

Amman International (4* may be)
http://www.amman-international.com/
sales::@amman-international.com
reservations::@amman-international.com
110 USDs a night.
About 60 GBPs.
On a hill close to the university.

Momin
Opposite the University hospitable
About 50 dinars a night.
Have weekly and monthly discounts.

Merryland hotel
In Abdale.
About 25 dinars.
Might have monthly discounts.

Sofia suites hotel
Also close to the main gate of the university.
About 50 dinars.

Golden Sands (3*)
Close to the main gate of the university.
About 45 GBPs.
http://www.goldensandsamman.com

Select (2*) - according to a local, this good old hotel closed down a year ago.
15 dinars.
about 11 GBPs.
On the hill *jabal weibda*, (near *jabal amman*) between the city centre and the university.
With this one you may need to ask to pay more for a better room (e.g double rooms are significantly better than the single ones).


Shopping, Sports and Entertainment

Unfortunately, restaurants are not great in Amman and you are better off sticking to the university canteen or cooking at home. There are many grocery shops and bakeries (non-meat items), whose quality you can generally trust. The exceptions might be *matam siffeen* and *matam haytham*, but you might want to refer to local knowledge first.

Fruit is generally expensive, but vegetables are reasonably priced. Bread is cheap.

In western Amman there are three western-style large shopping centres with cinemas (City, Mecca and Baraka malls). There are a few other cinemas in Amman too. Hussain gardens is also close by - worth visiting.

There are smaller malls all around western Amman. In Amman mall there is a good selection of electronic dictionaries (upstairs in C-town). And if you get bored, there is a games city someplace in Jubeiha.

If you want to practice your Arabic then the place to shop is *jabal al-Hussain*. Here you will find clothes shops and mini-malls.

Of-course you can also try the city-centre (downtown), but without local knowledge of prices it may be difficult and you may need to haggle with prices.
As for east Amman I have no knowledge except that everything might be cheaper.


Cyclng club.  Transport

If you like cycling, there is Bedouin Bikes (formally Tareef cycling club), who do a trip every weekend and provide all equipment, training and food. You can find them on facebook.

Cycling club.  Hiking

For something different, try Mountain Breeze country club:
http://www.jordanadventure.com/ (and on facebook).

There are Gyms all over Amman. Western Amman is significantly more expensive. Gets cheaper in Sweileh, down the main road from the university, and around *dawaar manhal* (Jubeiha). The cheapest (male-only) GYM around the university, but not the best, is near the north-gate and is called Body Life (but tell them you can't afford the proteins and other supplements they might try to sell you).


Costs

In terms of cost, Jordan comes second to UAE. In comparison, Lebanon is expensive too and Egypt and Syria can work out to almost half the cost.

Jordan university comes under west Amman, which is the more expensive part of Amman. If you decide on Amman then for a studio I would set aside 300 dinars per month (if you want something clean and new). Even if you choose a dorm, better to be on the safe side - I once met a girl who liked her dorm and another who did not).

If you are not travelling alone then sharing with others is another (cheaper) option. On the other hand, sharing with locals or students on your course can bring on other problems and for a six month period there is no time for experimenting. If you can find a good studio for less than 200 JDs a month then there is hardly any saving lost when compared to sharing.

Near the university (except for the western cafes/restaurants, etc), food is generally similarly priced as in the USA (for comparison). The university restaurant (open mid-day) is half price compared to outside.

Buses are cheap (like USA) but taxis cost like UK buses (double cost).

Get a local sim card (Zain is expensive while Orange and Umnia are cheaper, but still good). Umnia is more common with local students. There is not much in terms of public pay phones (perhaps nothing).

For twelve months, overall, you are looking at around 8000 JDs minimum.
However, 11000 would be better (as then it would be easier to focus on studies and to enjoy your stay).


© Last edited: 17-AUG-2016


References
1. An American in Amman

2. The book title literally means (Arabic) between your hands.