From traditional clothing to Arabic sweets and chocolates, Culture Trip picks the best traditional Jordanian souvenirs to buy when you visit the kingdom.
During your trip to Jordan, you’ll have the chance to pick up some souvenirs and gifts along the way as you hike in Petra, camp in Wadi Rum, float in the Dead Sea, stroll in Amman, and dive in Aqaba. The following authentic and (mostly) affordable buys will fit in your suitcase and capture the fascinating Jordanian culture.
Traditional keffiyeh (scarf)
Embroidered items and Bedouin weavings are popular Jordanian souvenirs, but perhaps the most practical and iconic textile choice is the traditional headscarf, called keffiyeh in Arabic.
The classic Jordanian keffiyeh is a houndstooth checkered pattern: Bedouins wear red and white, Palestinians wear black and white. Buy one of each. They are sold at the most visited places in Jordan and usually come with a lesson on how to wrap your head like a proper desert dweller.
If you’re looking for something a little more stylish, SEP Jordan makes scarves and wraps in traditional styles and a rainbow of colors. The ethical pieces are hand-stitched by women refugees supported by the company.
Traditional Bedouin Keffiyeh Scarf | © Florian Priszl / Wikimedia Commons
Hand painted ceramics
Mosaics are a distinctly Jordanian art form (don’t miss the region’s oldest mosaics in Madaba) but the real deal can be quite expensive. Mosaic-style ceramics are a more reasonably priced option.
Before you leave for Jordan, you can pre-order a mosaic-style mug customized with your name in Arabic or English through All From Jordan and pick it up in Amman.
Or on an adventure, you’re sure to come across all kinds of traditional pottery, mosaic-style and otherwise. For hand-painted ceramics in a more contemporary style, check out Sharqi, which offers ceramics made by refugee women, starting at USD $29.
Custom Name Mug from All From Jordan | © All from Jordan
Locally made chocolate
More and more companies are making handmade chocolate in Jordan, but two in particular reflect the local culture. At Jameed Chocolate, Chef Omar Sartawi’s not-so-secret ingredient is local goat’s milk, specifically jameed , a hard cheese curd that is also used in Jordan’s national dish, mansaf.
At Ishq Artisan Chocolates, Zahira Haram creates exquisite chocolates with modern flavor profiles influenced by the current season and local ingredients – she also forgoes refined sugar and uses other natural sources of sweetness.
Ishq Artisan Chocolates | © Ishq Artisan Chocolates
Hipster t-shirts and accessories
Jobedu and Mlabbas take existing sayings, logos and images and create well-designed funny take-offs in Arabic. If you don’t speak the language, the staff will patiently interpret Arabic and explain every pun and every play on words. Both brands have a design aesthetic and a sense of humor.
You can pick up all kinds of accessories like keychains, coasters and totes, as well as t-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with inside jokes (like the ubiquitous camel crossing sign).
T-Shirt Crossing Camels from Jobedu | © Jodbedu
Ajalon Olive Oil
The Ajloun area in northwest Jordan is known for its olives. You can pick up bottles of ajloun olive oil at any supermarket, but the cloudy, fresh-pressed goodness comes from freshly picked olives.
The annual olive harvest takes place in autumn after the first major rains. If you’re in Jordan between October and December, plan a trip to Ajlon to visit an olive farm and watch the oil being pressed – and of course, pick up a few bottles to enjoy at home.
Fresh pressed olive oil from Ajloun, Jordan | © Katrina Gregory
Amman is a haven for regional artists and, not surprisingly, the center of the emerging art scene is Jabal Webdeh. Stop by the higher end art galleries, but remember that the real bargains can be found by wandering the streets of Jabal Webdeh, paying particular attention to cafes and artist studios (like the artist-owned Sham Cafe on Nemer Al Edwan Street).
Another gallery for affordable local art, Jacaranda Images, can be found near Rainbow Street.
Three prints by Sham Cafe owner Karam Alamousa | © Karam Alamousa / Havas Art
A classic gift from Jordan is a tin of Jalatimo sweets. Visit one of their 11 stores around Amman and pick your own stuff, or pick up a ready-made selection at Queen Alia International Airport on your way out of the city.
If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, you can’t go wrong with the mini baklava or the adorable little pistachio nests called Osh Al Bulbul. Their packable tins are perfect for sharing at family gatherings or as gifts for your office mates.
Tin of Osh Al Bulbul from Zaltimo Sweets | © Zalatimo sweets
For those looking to snag a piece of heirloom jewelry that captures the spirit of Jordan, Nadia Dajani, whose jewelry store is on the ground floor of the InterContinental Amman, is known for her minimalist style of Arabic calligraphy and other regionally inspired designs.
If that’s a bit much, keep your eyes peeled for Bedouin-style tribal costume jewelry. Quality varies so don’t overspend, but grab a piece or two if something catches your eye and the price is right.
Gold Plated Arabic Jewelry from Nadia Dajani | © Nadia Dajani
Sumac and za’atar may not be specific to Jordan, but they are a great way to bring unique Jordanian flavors to any dish. Sumac is a citrus and savory spice that is the color of red wine, and za’atar comes in a variety of blends, but the base is typically thyme and sesame.
And, of course, getting some refined salt from the Dead Sea is always a good idea for the cooks in our lives. You can buy all of these at most mini marts and supermarkets, but the Kabatilo spice shops scattered around Amman are known for their quality.
Due to the high quality of olive oil available in Jordan, there are some excellent olive-oil soaps on the market at very good prices. You can find local handmade soaps at Kozmo supermarkets, such as Dr. Mac, which comes in both bar and liquid form.
Better yet, if you want to do a little better, Sitti and Zarka Life are two values-driven organizations that offer soap handmade by local women, many of whom live in refugee camps and communities.
Dr. Olive Oil Soap Mac | © Dr. Mac
Dead Sea mud
Brand-name Dead Sea mud is widely available in tourist shops, but not exactly worth it. Best option: If your trip includes a stay at a Dead Sea hotel, pack in a spa package to take home with you.
The best spas put the clay soil through a sterile process, but preserve the healthy minerals. Another option is to scan local stores for reasonably priced small packets of therapeutic mud, which are great for gift giving.