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Culture and Traditions

Origins and Dialect:

Owing to Aqaba’s location on a major trading route, Aqabawis are a unique mixture of Bedouin, Hijazi (of Arabian Peninsula), Egyptian and Levantine origins. Therefore, while Arabic is the mother tongue of Aqabawis, if conversing with a Bedouin, Hijazi, Egyptian, or Levantine, the Aqabawi is difficult to distinguish from his counterpart.

Customs of Aqabawis


Aqabawis hold dearly to the customs for which Arabs are known: pride and hospitality. Aqabawis enjoy nothing more than making sure their visitors feel at home and enjoy their visit.

Special events


Birth: Traditionally, births used to take place at home. A midwife, usually an elderly lady, would be called to assist. Her services are rendered for free; however, she would be on the priority list of invitees to any celebration held for the new arrival. In the past, when Aqaba used to have a prominent fisherman culture, a boy’s umbilical cord would be thrown in the sea to ensure that he would turn out to be a skilled swimmer.

Naming the newborn happens immediately or after one week. If a father is informed of the birth while hosting a visitor, the baby is given the visitor’s name.

Marriage: In Aqaba, as in many other areas of Jordan and the Arab world, marriage is traditionally a family affair. It starts with a mother picking a suitable girl for her son.  The groom’s family then takes a large delegation of family members and friends to make a ceremonial request to the bride’s family (Jaha).  Two separate marriage ceremonies are held, one for the males, and another for the females. Weddings are usually preceded with a “henna night” for the bride, where female friends and family members gather and usually get “henna” tattoos.

Traditional Superstitions

A five-armed starfish was placed on the house’s main wall as a talisman that protected from the evil eye,which was believed to be the source of all ailments.

Washing laundry on Monday and Friday was avoided, as it was believed to cause death in the family.

Sweeping on Friday and sunset time was thought to bring evil spirits into the house.

Women placed their cut hair in wall cracks so that it would grow faster.

A pendant made of a piece of fire coral wrapped in a palm leaf was placed on a woman's chest after weaning her baby because it was thought to dry out her milk.


Aqaba’s cuisine is marked by frequent use of two main Aqaba ingredients: either fish or dates. Some popular dishes are:

Aqabawi Meals:


This is a dish common among Arabs occupying coastal regions. It is a combination of rice, fish and oriental flavorful spices.


This is made up of fish, tomatoes and onions cooked together.


This dish is popular with wedding ceremonies. Bukhari is made up of rice, meat, humus beans, ghee and spices.

Aqabawi Desserts


Al-Hooh is a desert consisting of layers of pastry stuffed with nuts or dates. It is then fried in ghee and dipped in sugar syrup.


Dates and ghee

This is commonly presented to guests. It is a simple dessert consisting of fresh dates dipped in ghee.