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INTERVIEW


She was one of Jordan’s first female guides and now leads women’s expeditions and cultural tours on behalf of Intrepid Travel. Nuwar Jodeh speaks to Katie McGonagle about life on the road


Q. How did you start working as a guide? A. I’m a Jordanian of Palestinian descent. I spent a third of my life in the West Bank, in Palestine, then I have lived two-thirds of my life in Jordan, after my high school degree. But I also got a scholarship to live in France, then came back to Jordan after I finished my degree because all my family were living here. I started working in a marketing company and then my aunt called me and said her colleague’s husband had a travel agency and was looking for someone, I worked there for a short time and then became a guide in 1993.


Q. Were there many female guides in Jordan at that time? A. When I started, there were maybe three or four female guides in the whole Hashemite kingdom [Jordan], but I was the first French- speaking one. It was a rarity to find another female, then slowly, more women started to become guides. We needed female participation in tourism, and now we are seeing that due to empowerment and because the minister of tourism wanted to get more women involved. Now we have 66 female guides out of about 1,100, and there are special requests for female guides. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to lead a trip because someone wants a female guide.


Q. How did your family feel about you breaking barriers in this sector? A. My mother is an educated woman, she studied literature in the US and she continued in higher education. My sister works as a doctor, and I have a half-sister who’s a pharmacist. Although our society is conservative, they are nice to women. I think that there are no longer any barriers between men and women at work.


Q. Jordan seems to be on everyone’s wish list right now – have you noticed a difference in demand? A. It’s booming. Jordan was influenced by 9/11 – people stopped travelling here with the wars in Iraq and then Syria. Whatever affects the surrounding countries automatically affects Jordan. But the last three years have been very good compared to the previous years.


Q. What’s your favourite place to visit on a tour? A. I like to go to Jerash – it’s a must to see a complete Roman city, it’s an entire Pompeii. And north of there, there’s Umm Qais, a site that’s Roman, Byzantine and Greek; the ancient Greeks called it Gedara. It’s 378 metres above sea level and you are sitting on top of Roman ruins, and looking out, you can see the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights – it’s so beautiful. What else could you want?


14 March 2020


Nuwar Jodeh Intrepid Travel tour guide


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