Crime & Terrorism in Jordan - How To Stay Safe

Jordan is one of the safer countries in the Middle East when it comes to terrorism and crime, but don't get too complacent.

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Jammed between some of the most volatile countries in the world – just to name a few neighbors, Iraq and Syria – you'd be forgiven for being a little nervous before a trip to Jordan.

To put your nerves to rest, despite everything that's going on around the country, Jordan's leaders have been working hard to make the desert kingdom into a modernized nation in global society. The first step to doing this, is ensuring travelers feel safe.

Is Terrorism a Concern for Visitors?

Two recent incidents have threatened to destroy that reputation as a safe and welcoming destination.

  • In December 2016, shootings in and around the Karak Castle took place. The "crusader" fort is popular with tourists. One Canadian tourist and two Jordanian locals were killed in the incident.
    34 others including foreign nationals were injured. It should be noted that 11 Jordanians, members of the army or gendarmerie sent to tackle the terrorists, were killed, as were the 5 attackers. Jordan is a major partner in the US-led coalition fighting ISIS. In December 2014, a Jordanian pilot was captured by ISIS and executed in a grisly way. Jordan retaliated by sentencing two ISIS prisoners to be hanged. The Karak incident occured a year later and should be viewed in that perspective.
  • The second security incident occured in July 2017. Jordanian authorities closed the road to Petra and Wadi Rum after one of the largest tribes in southern Jordan, protested the sentencing of a Jordanian soldier to life in prison for the killing of three US soldiers at a military base. Tourism operators and local bedouins in the Wadi Rum area argues the forced closure was an over-reaction. There were no attacks and no-one was attacked, but the closure hurt the reputation for safety built up over many years.

Be aware though that ISIS continues to call for followers to launch attacks on westerners in Jordan, and especially at Petra. While the large police and military presence throughout the country has been successful at stopping terrorist actions in the country since the 2005 suicide bombing of hotels in Amman, there is no guarantee of perfect safety.

If you're still concerned about the possibility for terrorist actions while on vacation in Jordan, keep these facts in mind:

  • Stay away from political and religious demonstrations, as they could turn violent, or you could be seen and noticed by terrorist groups as a Western sympathizer.
  • Be aware of when and where the potential for violent acts are at its highest: on days leading up to religious holidays, on Fridays, near the downtown areas of Amman or tourist hotels, near main city mosques and after midday prayers.
  • The borders with Syria and Iraq are too dangerous for tourists to visit.
A stallholder in one of Amman's popular markets. Photo credit: iStock

Crime in Jordan

As a happy result of the increased police and military presence to combat terrorism, crime rates throughout Jordan are quite low compared even to many cities in Europe and the United States.

Generally, the only things you will have to worry about are bag and purse snatching, pickpocketing, and, occaisionally, sexual harassment or assault (don't ever ride in the front seat of a taxi – several female travelers have reported incidents of harrassment).

Cities everywhere attract a criminal element, and in the tourist-heavy parts of Amman, the threat of having your pocket picked or bag stolen is as high as it would be anywhere else. Be sure to keep important documents, cards, and cash away from prying fingers.

The shopping precinct of Amman and especially the up-market Taj Mall attract petty theives. In those places, be particularly careful when using ATMs – some people have been robbed after withdrawing cash, or had their PINs stolen by "shoulder surfers".

Always watch your bags; leave them unattended for even a moment and they'll miraculously grow legs and disappear. Always carry bags on the side away from the kerb, thieves ride by on mopeds or motorcycles, snatch your purse, and take off through busy traffic.

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15 Comments

  • Zava said

    Given the "lively" current terrorist situation, the date of issue of this safety statement, over 16 months old, does not seem up to date...

  • bruce said

    US issues travel warning for ALL of Jordan

  • Deborah said

    Planning a trip to Jordan for March 2017. Is it wise??

  • Jay said

    need to do a speech on terrorism in jordan

  • Carl said

    I was going out with my family for picnic in the City of Madaba Jordan. We went to a public place with some trees in it, we have noticed that there were some local people looking at us in a bad manner; we didn't pay any attention. At midnight we left the area and we noticed that the road was blocked with large rocks that were not there when we came in; we have stopped to remove the rocks and boom, it started raining rocks from all over the place at our cars; I left the car and stared shining the flash light where the rocks was coming from; rocks throwing stopped then we started removing rocks that were blocking the road, rocks throwing started again, we started driving our cars and left swiftly.

    I have no doubt that most Jordanians are terrorists, and I will never be back to this country again :/

  • Chris said

    I really want to go to Petra, Ive been planning to go there for a long time and now the opportunity has come so I am looking to book my trip... after reading these comments, especially Carl I am now wondering if it is a bad idea to go there??

  • Yazan said

    I have been in Jordan multiple time for the past 8 years and never had an issue with locals. I once got 100$ stolen from me because i left a rented car open when i stopped by the grocery store. It's pretty much my fault for leaving it open. Overall, no place is 100% safe, you just gotta take caution and keep your personal belongs with you as soon as you step out of your hotel.

    I have also noticed that Policemen in Jordan have 0 tolerance for locals whom harass women or tourists. Last June a friend of mine got harassed by a local, reported the incident to a cop and within two minutes the individual got handcuffed. I still don't know what happened to him after that.

    Dear Chris, Petra is pretty safe regarding what Carl said. It's heavily secured by local guards and policemen. After all, it's a tourist destination and Jordan takes absolute care of their tourists. Although i wouldn't recommend you to go there by yourself or drive there. Take somebody with you or book a trip there with a tourist company. I can provide you with some top-notch travel guides.

  • Ian said

    I’ve been in Jordan for 15 days and am currently still here in Amman. A few days ago, the U.S. sent a worldwide travel warning after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I am not sure what everyone in the comment section is talking about because it is safe as hell here. I rented a car, drove to Umm Qays, Jerash, Madaba, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Dead Sea, Karak, accidentally stopped close to Syrian refugee camp to get gas, and not a single person has even come close to threatening me. I walked around Madaba during the day and midnight and not a single person bothered me. The police are extremely welcoming and so are the locals and especially the Bedouin people. Yes, I’ve seen 2 angry protests but it was peaceful; they just wanted their voices to be heard. I was literally walking through the protest in downtown Amman and again, NO ONE bothered me. The only protest where I was hurt took place here in the states. People get shot all the time where I live in the U.S. if anything, coming to Jordan feels like an escape from the danger zone. Not sure where all this fear mongering is coming from but I can guarantee you that the worst that’ll happen here is people trying to scam you into doing tourist-y stuff. Stop listening to the news and just visit. Also, every hotel has a metal detector and X-ray machine. These are precautious measures taken after the 2005 bombing, but don’t let that scare you. There are no bombings here. They are literally there for those rare “just in case moments” unlike my high school where the metal detectors were there to make sure kids weren’t bringing guns to school to shoot rival gang members. Stop worrying and start doing.

  • T said

    The most dangerous thing about Jordan and Amman is the traffic. The drivers here are nuts.

  • Marty said

    I want to applaud and back up Ian's comments. I spent 14 days driving myself and my wife around Jordan. We had nothing but pleasant experiences. The people are extremely friendly and helpful.

    Obviously Carl's experience is unfortunate but to suggest that the whole country is full or terrorists is utterly moronic.

    Ignore what you hear on the news. Normal life doesn't sell stories.

  • Fred Shaw said

    Jordan and some Jordanians are horrible people. Hotel staff fight over tips, Resturant’s charge service fees to sit in alleys filled with running sewer water. They will screw you every chance they get. Don’t even get me started on taxis or even care rental places. I rented a car and paid in full on the airlines website. When we got to the airport, we were met by the owner I guess, charged us 7 dinar and to this day I don’t know what it was for. I asked why and I don’t remember getting an answer.
    Go to Turkey which is where most Jordanians go. Way better people and much more to see and do and the prices are great. They do smile in Turkey, can’t say they do that in Jordan if they’re not scamming or trying to scam you.

  • Thomas said

    Just came back from a week in Aqaba, Jordan. And I must say, I never felt so safe in a foreign city before, as I did in Aqaba. Everywhere there is a significant police/military presence, but in a make-you-feel-safe manner, and not in an intimidating way.
    I honestly only have good things to say about my week in Aqaba, and I would recommend anyone to forget their prejudices of what the Middle East is, and go visit.

  • Omar Jaradat said

    Dear People Who Are Wondering about Jordan,

    Never Fear Police and Anti Terrorism are Always here.
    We Have Highly Trained Police Officers as well as Highly Trained DTU and CID and undercover Officials.
    Most Crimes I witnessed is Just protests Of what recently Happened about Trump's politics, There are Alot of Nice People.

    Good Tips :
    Don't Carry A lot of Money on you Just hide some in your wallet out of sight because people have an eye of an eagle and might Say Without taxes, and adds some ransom of un-calculated tax.

    Try to stay in your group when Your on tourisim Or Go to a Translator Center that is Authorised or has a Certificate , and ask if you need to have a translator Around.

    Never Pay extra for taxi's no matter the traffic , just order Uber or Careem if no one is willing to go with the Fare , or as its called in arabic (Adaad).

    1$ is not 1 JD

    If you ever Encounter what Carl which i feel very terrible about Just Call the Police and if its to dangerous or you feel unsafe or threatened call the Embassy.
    Which are (999/911) for Emergency
    Rest of Embassies.
    Amman Governate (Capital of Jordan) (06) 590 6000


    If you are Not Sure or Lost Use google maps or ask Police or People they might be helpful.


  • sasha said

    Jordan and Petra is the most dangerous place I have ever been to. I was harassed and scammed by the bedwoin people and they disrespect all foreign people especially women. They steal, cheat and also are involved with extremist religious thoughts. Some in Ma'an accept terrorism as you can see many articles online. The tribes protested the police officer who killed three americans to go to prison? They are all linked with these terrorist groups and F them! I hope embassies will tell all tourist never to go to jordan! \

  • ish said

    I'm American. I just got back from Jordan yesterday. I never felt unsafe. Petra is full of tourists from around the world and the town is pretty lively. They have a Marriott there for goodness sake. Its fine. Just dont be an idiot. They were very welcoming to us.

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