Women’s ways – The best village food and handicrafts in Jordan

traditional tea and bread in Jordan
 handicrafts in Jordan sales womanA first time visitor in the Middle East arrives with so many questions. I was curious about authentic handicrafts in Jordan, the food, and especially the women. On a Friday night in the Amman Souk, there were a few women in traditional dress with mingling with foreigners and compatriots dressed in Western styles. They were shopping in small groups or relaxing with their families. While traveling through the country, I met women working in shops and businesses; in homes and tents. They were always in motion, tending to children, cooking, teaching or creating something. Women are that way no matter what country I wander through!

This trip was made possible by VisitJordan.org and BarakaExperiences.com

Bedouin woman brings bread to her tent

Bedouin woman brings bread to her tent

Having my eyes smudged with Kohl in the Bedouin tent

Having my eyes smudged with Kohl in a Bedouin village

We walked to have coffee in a Bedouin village from the Feynan Eco Lodge. The father first roasted and hand-ground beans then brewed a thick drink over a low stone fire. Taking time from her busy day, the mother mixed a traditional Kohl and then smudged my eyes. It’s believed that Kohl helps to protect the eyes from bright sun or eye ailments. I saw many men as well as women wearing it.
Making daily bread outside the Bedouin tent

Making daily bread outside the Bedouin tent

Our questions were patiently translated as the wife began making a traditional flatbread. You can see more of her process in the video below.
Queen Mother Noor, an American who married King Hussein, has had an enchanted life. That didn’t prevent her from working hard to alleviate poverty and ignorance in her adopted country. She established many projects including the Noor Al Hussein Foundation in 1979. It supports traditional arts, education, health, and women’s entrepreneurship. A foundation established by the Queen Consort, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, also supports development and the arts. While I’m sure the handicrafts of Jordan produced by the Jordan River Foundation may be found across the country, I only saw them in an Amman airport shop.
The Noor Al Hussein Foundation is a primary supporter of handicrafts in Jordan

Sign for the Noor Foundation Development Program.

Madaba is a popular Christian village that overflows with tourists. The floor, columns, and frames in the central church are embedded with historical mosaics. Nearby, a large craft market employs many women who painstakingly create traditional mosaics based on ancient designs. I watched women with steady hands paint ceramics, while others worked as salespeople and cashiers. Many were in modern dress.
Handicrafts in Jordan include traditional ceramics

Food and handicrafts in Jordan

In the northern village of Um Qais, the entrepreneur Muna Haddad, Managing director of Baraka Destinations, talked about her work. Baraka works with village men and women to promote agrotourism, ecotourism, and sustainability. They foster businesses featuring basketry, bread-making and cooking skills as well as olive oil production and beekeeping. I loved spending an afternoon learning how to make stuffed eggplant and traditional bread.
Breadmaker in Um Qais, Jordan

Breadmaker in Um Qais

baskets in Um Qais, Jordan

Baskets in a living room studio in Um Qais

While keeping their traditional values, the women of Jordan have new ways to pursue their skills and handicrafts in Jordan. As the future unfolds, the young women of Jordan have even more ways to support themselves.
Jordanian girls look to the future

Jordanian girls look to the future with hope

For more about Jordan check out these posts: Amman Adventures and How best to explore Petra.
If you enjoyed this introduction to some of the authentic crafts and food of Jordan, share the post! Use the buttons at the top of the page or these pins:
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This trip was made possible by VisitJordan.com and BarakaDestinations.com 
Travel Notes & Beyond


  • Kohl does actually help protect the eye. It helps block the reflections of the UV rays off your skin.

    I love that pottery. Each one looks like a work of art. I know when I visit Jorden I will be coming home with one of them.

  • Love the focus of this post. We adored Jordan, largely thanks to a trip we did with A Piece of Jordan, run by a woman who runs community-based tourism all about local immersion and is starting a women’s center for the arts in Wadi Musa! You would love her work! Reading this post is such a good reminder to go back to Jordan!

  • Fascinating read! I would love to visit Jordan and see these crafts and the women working hard behind them all. I didn’t know that they believed kohl was to protect the eyes – that’s an interesting fact! And it makes sense that men wear it too, if that is the belief. I bet it was fun learning how to make the authentic bread and the eggplant dish!

  • Really enjoyed this post! What a fascinating glimpse into the lives of women in Jordan and the trades they take pride in. Love the juxtaposition between an exciting future while still staying true to traditional customs and beliefs! 🙂

  • I am dying to visit Jordan. And, your post just added fuel to my wanderlust. I really love those places where women play a big role in contributing to the economy of the country. Glad to know that Jordon is focussing on it.

  • I love seeing the way different cultures make such artistic and unique things. These women are very talented! I love your video as well by the way! I would love to visit Jordan and see these handcrafts first hand along with a stop to check out Petra!

  • What a great and authentic experience! Jordan is very high on my list, especially because I want to visit Petra. But these little villages are equally exciting and exotic. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • Such an amazing local experience and the work that goes into the handcraft stuff wow. Jordan has recently come into places I have to visit list as I keep reading enticing posts like yours.

  • A nice insight into the activities that Jordanian women do. The ceramics and the baskets look awesome. Although I would like to visit Jordan because of Petra, I’m sure my wife would like this village.

  • I actually have a book on my shelves on Queen Mother Noor, an auto biography I think, but I have to get around to reading it. It’s so fabulous to hear that she has had such a positive impact on the country and supporting traditional arts, education, health, and women’s entrepreneurship. You got such a fabulous insight into the women of Jordan and their trades. It’s fabulous to hear that there is a bright future unfolding for the women of Jordan, while still allowing them to hold onto their traditional values. What a really interesting feature – thankyou!

  • So much of talent there. Even the bread has designs on them!
    I didn’t know kohl had protective medical properties.

  • The cottage industries and handicrafts you show in Jordan remind me of what I saw in Morocco. There are many areas where women make a significant contribution to the economy (as well as taking care of the family and rearing children). I will visit Jordan someday as it is very high on my bucket list.

  • What amazing women. Thank you for taking the time to share their stories. I’m not the best at crafts, so I appreciate the hard work and detail crafters and artisits put into their work.

  • What talented women. The baskets and pottery is so beautiful. I’ve never been to the Middle East but am really curious about it. It seems the news portrays only the bad. Maybe Jordan is safer and more accepting than most countries. What do you think?

  • Your photos are beautiful. I loved seeing and hearing about the handicrafts and how women contribute to those. Jordan is definitely on my bucket list of places to go. Did you feel unsafe at all?

  • I had the opportunity to spend about 24 hours in Jordan once. It is an amazing country and I found all the people to be very friendly. I would love to return and visit some of these places. Madaba and Um Qais sound like great places to visit for both history and culture.

  • Thanks for taking us to Jordan and what a spirit listing post! Glad to know that there are women in the Middle East is living an enchanting while embracing traditional values and lifestyle. I would love to try the local food, and hope to have a “hands-on” experience of the local handicrafts! Even better, that’s great that they are also aware of agrotourism, ecotourism, and sustainability! @ knycx.journeying

  • I have a lot of curiosity about Jordan, although it is mainly due to my interest in seeing Petra someday. It was interesting to read about your interaction with the women in their society.

  • Amazing experience in Jordan! I’ve never been to the middle East before but it sure looks like an interesting place! The handicrafts are so delicate and beautiful. I would love to get a piece of two for sure!

  • I’d love to try cooking in Jordan, I bet the recipes are delicious. #Theweeklypostcard

  • How interesting. I didn’t know the reason behind the use of kohl. I mentioned Madaba in a recent blog post of mine too, from the Israeli perspective.

  • Such an interesting, local & authentic experience you had. I love travelling like that. Jordan looks amazing, would love to visit very soon.

  • I loved my time in Jordan two years ago – in some ways, Jordan has progressed well in female empowerment compared to other Middle East countries. That said, even in countries where women are given empowerment in many aspects, there’s always room for further improvement and progress 🙂 Love your post and video! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Thanks so much for the leavened perspective. Yes, there’s much room for more freedom but as an outsider I can’t say what’s best or not for a woman in Jordan. We see some horrid comments about them online but that’s not the whole story. I can’t hold my country up as a model of perfection, certainly.

  • I wonder about the women of the Middle East so often. Were you able to bring any of these handicrafts home with you?

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