Carlijn Nijhof works for CityFilm, which is an international media consultancy company, specialized in creating destination campaigns worldwide. "My role, as International Project Director, is creating a joint initiative between the public and private sector to create the right message about the destination and to raise funding. I have created campaigns in Europe and the Middle East, here my journey to Jordan".
"February 2014 we have been invited by the Tourism Board to create a destination campaign in Jordan. It is of essence to be in the country yourself to get the right information from the government as we create tools to support their message. During the project we (we always work in teams of 2) interviewed all key business leaders and government officials to create the right message".
"As we broadcast our documentaries in hotels (amongst others) we work closely together with them. We always stay in one of the partner hotels. I have been living in the Grand Hyatt Amman and Crown Plaza Amman. Two great hotels in different parts of the city. Both hotels have great facilities for the leisure as business traveller. For my work I have visited several hotels in the country (not only in Amman) and there is a broad variety from eco lodges to resorts to budget hotels".
"I have been working in the Middle East before my arrival in Jordan and expected it to be the same as in the Gulf. But I couldn’t be more wrong! Jordan is a very open-minded destination in which you truly feel the heritage and culture. I didn’t expect to be able to mingle with the locals that much. While living in Qatar (where there are 250.0000 Qatari’s on a population of 2 million people) the social life was only with other expats or with workers who are non Qatari (taxi drivers, waiters etc.) Luckily I was also able to meet the local Qatari there due to work, to also get to experience their culture. When you arrive in Jordan you directly feel welcomed by the Jordanians as they are everywhere. They have a great country that has so much to offer they only lack natural resources/money which makes them hard workers and proud of their country".
"It is a majority Muslim country but you don't see traditional clothing that much. Some women are covered with a head scarf but not completely covered. You have to respect their religion by wearing modest clothing when you are there but they don't force you. Their culture is very family based. It is very normal to call with their family during working hours a few times a day. Young women live with their parents until they get married and the employer makes sure that women don’t work too late to be home early. In restaurants and bars the public is very diverse and a good mix between male and female while in Shisha places you find mainly men smoking and drinking tea".
"As mentioned the people are super friendly and very welcoming. Never experienced a better hospitality then in Jordan. They are very open to foreigners and want to help you with everything. While asking for directions they will walk with you or drive you there and even give their number in case you need more help during your stay. It makes you think about your own hospitality and making you feel that you are very rude when you give directions in Amsterdam and just say left and second right and ask again there.."
"Everybody knows the must sees like Petra and the Dead Sea, which are lovely and should definitely not be left out in your itinerary. Petra is one of the 7 Wonders of the World and the Dead Sea is a once in a life time experience to feel light and float on water. But Jordan is a very diverse country where you can easily spend a week or 2. The country has something for everyone from fun & adventure, religious sites, eco and nature, spa & wellness to the immense variety of history and culture which is like an open air museum. North you have very green surroundings at the Dibeen Forrest Reserve and Ajloun (where you also have a great Islamic Castle) and the Roman city Jerash. Um Quais, near the borders of Israel and Syria, offers panoramic views out over the Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights, set among rolling green hills and plunging valley gorges".
"If you go to the East you can combine your visit to the Dead Sea (book an overnight in one of the great resorts which is sometimes cheaper then a day pass) with some adventure at Wadi Mujib where you can do canyoning in the valleys with spectacular views. Nearby you can find the Hammamat Ma’in hot springs. If you go more South from there drive to Dana Reserve where you have great hiking possibilities for experienced and beginners. If you continue South you should go camping in Wadi Rum (the desert) which has spectacular colors and where you can camp and see the stars as bright as never before and enjoy the complete silence. Completely in the South you find Aqaba which is a small touristic town where you can easily spend a few days enjoying the beautiful Red Sea. Go diving (you can walk into the sea and see great coral and riffs) and enjoy the tax free shopping. In the East you can find desert castles and reserves for bird watching. In the whole country you can find many religious sites like the babtism site where Jesus was babtized, Mount Nebo where Moses saw the promised land and many more. In the capital Amman you have great Souks as well as specatular views from Citadel. As mentioned this country has so many hidden gems which are not touristic and really worth to visit".
"Jordan has a very nice climate. The weather shouldn't be compared with the Gulf but more like Greece and Lebanon. People think you can only go there in spring (April/May) but also the rest of the year is pretty nice. When I arrived in February it was even cold (12 degrees) and coming from Qatar I didn’t even bring warm clothes). The temperature difference I didn't expect. Driving from Amman to the Dead Sea is a difference of 10 degrees hotter. This because it is 472 meters below sea level (lowest point on earth)".
"What I did not expect to be meet so many friendly people, in the hills but also in the city. I was also surprised about the art culture, lot’s of little galleries and about the open culture".
"The food is amazing. Very affordable and of great quality. There is a lot to discover from local food to exclusive restaurants. There is shawarma, falafel and hummus everywhere. The local Jordanian dish is Mansaf, lamb with yoghurt. If you want to experience a place with true Jordanians you should visit Hashem which is a small and very cheap place. They just offer you what they have falafel, hummus, salad and a tea for 1 or 2 JD. Great experience. Another great experience is Beit Sitti (literal translation: Grandma's kitchen), where you will prepare a real Jordan meal together with other people, great way to get to know the local kitchen. Some other more western favorites of mine where the Living Room and Cantaloupe (great roof terrace). There are a lot of small places to discover to eat, drink and dance, you should just ask on the street where to go to party".
"I would definitely recommend Jordan for your holiday. I am a true ambassador of this country as you can’t compare it to no other. If I had to compare it it would be to Oman. Jordan is so diverse and the people will make it an experience you will never forget. Their willingness is there to market Jordan as a tourist destination but they also keep in mind their history and making sure not to ruin all their treasures. The problem that it isn’t that known yet and that there isn’t a lot of money".
"One of my best friends and her boyfriend came to visit me. We had a great time driving around and showing them the country in 4 days. Driving can be a bit difficult as it isn’t that touristic yet so we almost spend one of the days completely in the car driving from Aqaba via Petra to the Dead Sea. For me it was a great memory as I hadn’t see my good friends for a long time and it was great to show them ‘my country’ for a bit".
"For my work I am able to see everything in a very short time and experience the great things".