Middle Eastern Spices
One of the most memorable elements of a trip to Jordan is the food—and from baked goods to meat dishes and even dessert, aromatic spices are central to the flavors of the country. Za'atar is one of the most frequently used blends: common throughout the Middle East, the base is a mixture of dried wild thyme, sesame seeds, and salt. Jordan favors the Palestinian variety that often incorporates caraway and lots of tangy sumac, another important spice.
Spices make an ideal souvenir: affordable, light-weight, and a great way to share your experience with friends and family through a meal. The buying experience is also fun, tasting the (many) variations of za'atar and smelling tea blends in local shops. Spice vendors can be found in any town, but a good one in downtown Amman is Karkadeh on bustling King Faisal Street. The owner is gruff but helpful and patient; ask for samples before buying. Pro tip: there's also a fun selection of Middle Eastern candy available—try the chocolate-covered Medjool dates stuffed with almonds.
For more on za'atar and other must-try elements of Jordanian cuisine, check out this article.
Mosaic tilework has a long history in Jordan—thousands of years long. The most famous example is the Madaba Map: found in a church founded in the 6th century CE, this floor mosaic is thought to be the oldest map of the area including Jerusalem known as the "Holy Land." Nearby, in the Church of Moses at Mount Nebo, there are more exquisite examples of preserved mosaic art from around the same time period.
These ancient artworks aren't for sale, but luckily the craft of mosaic is still alive and well in Madaba. Book a tour at the Madaba Institute for Mosaics Art and Restoration (MIMAR) on Hussein bin Ali Street, where students learn to preserve Byzantine mosaics, and observe painstaking restoration projects in process. Afterward, head to one of the many workshops and showrooms lining the road into Madaba. Though most carry authentic pieces made in Jordan, it's always good to get a local reference and ask about the origin of any piece you buy. Jordan Jewel Art & Mosaic is a good one and your purchase will support the artisans, many of whom have disabilities.
The intricate craft of ground loom weaving has been passed down through generations of Bedouin women. Traditional designs, heavy on stripes and geometric patterns, are created with yarn from sheep wool (or goat and camel hair), some using natural dyes from indigenous plants like sumac berries and indigo. Bedouins commonly use woven fabrics for practical purposes like tents, saddlebags, and protective clothing, but travelers will find a variety of their own products to choose from—rugs, bags, and tapestries, to name a few—and many are sold by organizations that benefit local Bedouin communities.
A great resource for rugs and tablecloths is the Jordan River Foundation Showroom on Rainbow Street in Amman, and your purchase will help out a number of women's weaving initiatives. One is Bani Hamida, a social project that renewed the craft's economy in the village of Mukawir—you can visit the workshop to see the ground looms in action. Another source for woven goods is the Lumeyo Weaving Project in Udruh (a village near Petra), where local ladies weave fun yoga mats and totes called "BedouBags" in bold, sophisticated patterns. You can find their handiwork at Sakinah Yoga Studio and Urdon Shop in Amman—or better yet, take a weaving class and meet the makers themselves at the Udruh studio.
Arabic Coffee Pots
It goes without saying that you'll be drinking a lot of coffee in Jordan. Offered (along with tea) by friends, shopkeepers, and perfect strangers, it's brewed the Arabic way: grounds, water, and cardamom are heated together in either a dallah—the large coffee pot pictured above—or a smaller pot with an open top and a long handle. It's then served unfiltered and incredibly strong, with lots (and lots) of sugar.
Though you may go back to your old caffeine routine upon return home, these brass or copper pots are beautiful pieces to display in the kitchen, and a perfect reminder of Jordanian hospitality. Ranging from plain to ornate in design, most are not manufactured in Jordan, but in other Middle Eastern countries and Turkey. You'll still be able to buy them—your best bets are the shops and indoor souk in downtown Amman.
A wellspring of wellness experiences, Jordan offers everything from yoga retreats in the desert to healing floats in the Dead Sea, and you can return home as refreshed as you want to be. Spas abound throughout the country, from traditional hammams to luxe resort facilities, and many use oils, creams, and other products made in Jordan that incorporate local ingredients like olive oil, pomegranate, and Dead Sea mud—all typically available for purchase. Buy your favorites, and enjoy spa sessions long after your vacation ends.
One of the best bath and body lines, Trinitae, can be found hidden away on a quiet stretch of Rainbow Street in Amman, in an airy villa called the Soap House (worth a visit for the pleasant patio alone). A multi-generation family business, Trinitae offers a dizzying array of bath salts, scrubs, lotions, and more, all made with natural ingredients from Jordan. Pick up some Dead Sea bath salts with dried roses, fragrant olive oil hand soap, or natural loofahs infused with lavender or citrus. If you're not in Amman, book a massage at the Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea spa instead—they use Trinitae aromatherapy oil and other products.
Traditional Ceramics & Pottery
Jordan is known for its handpainted ceramics, and travelers will find ample opportunities to purchase plates, tiles, and other wares decked out in geometric floral designs with blue as the primary color. You'll find lovely examples at the Beit al Bawadi showroom in Amman's upscale Abdoun neighborhood. Founded by a Jordanian nonprofit, Beit al Bawadi employs local artisans trained in traditional techniques. If you're in the market for something more contemporary, Silsal Ceramics, also in Abdoun, offers a modern take on Jordanian ceramic design. (Fun fact: silsal is Arabic for "clay.")
For Nabataean clay pottery, head to the Petra Pottery Association in Taybeh, a village in the hills above Wadi Musa. The workshop was founded in order to preserve ancient earthenware production methods; bowls and vases are made by hand with bronze-colored clay from the local mountains and painted with natural pigments. Needless to say, these are fragile—consider carrying them onto the plane with you when heading home.