Wednesday, June 28, 2006


It was expected that rising costs of fuel would contribute to increasing costs of travel this year. Typically, I like to take my family to locations in Jordan, such as Petra and Aqaba, but this year we decided to go to Egypt. This decision has revealed to me some interesting economic choices related to vacationing. Let me explain.

Suppose that a family of four (mother, father and two kids) decide to spend four days and three nights at the Dead Sea. Reasonable accommodation requires renting two double rooms for the duration. It turns out that the five star hotels in the area charge a little over 100 dinars per room for casual tourists not dealing with a travel agent. So, the accommodations will cost 600 dinars. Add to that the cost of eating (lunch and dinner), which is about 25 dinars per person per day, which comes to 400 dinars over the four days. There are no alternatives but to eat in the hotel. So, this modest affair will cost about 1000 dinars, not including transportation. Transportation costs are low because of the proximity.

Economics of going to Aqaba are slightly different, since there are more options for food and accommodation. One can stay at a five star hotel at the beach, which would be at least 120 dinars a night, or one can rent a furnished apartment for as little as 25 dinars a night. The problem with the low cost option is the lack of access to the beach. Hotel beaches charge about seven or eight dinars per person (I forget). So, the family of four would have to shelve out 30 dinars a day to swim on the beach. Free public beaches are available to the south, but the services there are limited. Food costs are flexible as well. The said family of four would probably get away with spending less than 300 dinars. I wouldn’t guarantee everlasting gratitude by the wife for such a trip, however.

Now, options to going to Egypt are equally interesting. Newspaper adds have deals for five day trips, for example, including accommodation in five star hotels such as the Ramsis Hilton, for 289 dinars per person. This includes breakfast and sightseeing trips. So, the cost, except for food and souvenirs, would be about 1150 (plus 80 dinars in exit taxes). If one is on a tighter budget, the same deal is available for a four star hotel for 189 dinars per person. I really can’t fathom the economics of this, since the cost of a Royal Jordanian ticket to Cairo is about 220 dinars. Anyway, the four star deal will cost a little over 800 dinars, including the exit tax. Food would cost 20-30 dinars a day for the family, adding about 150 dinars to the total. So, Cairo, for five days, would cost about the same as four days in the Dead Sea.

For a beach trip to Sharm il Sheikh, a four day, three night deal can be done for 89 dinars per person (plus the 20 dinar exit tax). Upgrading to five star status with a beach would cost 129+20, totaling 600 dinars for the four member family. The three star hotel deal for such a family would cost about 440 dinars. I am not sure how much food costs in Sharm, but I would suppose that it is similar if not cheaper than Aqaba. My guess is that such a trip would achieve more in terms of familial satisfaction per dinar spent than the trip to Aqaba. Trips to Lebanon or Syria would also be competitive in terms of cost and enjoyment to Aqaba or the Sharm.

Anyway, it is sad that this situation is as it is. It seems to me that it is a shame that options for Jordanian travel in the country is both limited (by facilities, not wonderful settings) and costly.


At 12:02 AM, Blogger Hatem Abunimeh said...

In an article published on May 27,2006, Alanbat Tabloid Newspaper writer named خيال الزرقا rightfully stated.....

: ان الاردنيين يقضون اجازاتهم او عطلة «الويك اند» تحت شجرة في وادي شعيب او على طريق المطار او باحراش زي او دبين .

And that is exactly what I was doing while I was still living in Jordan, to put it more bluntly, that is all I was able to afford back then.Though I did enjoy my time.

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hatem: Nice article. Here is the link for whoever is interested.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Tamara said...

That is so frustratingly true… I was planning a trip with friends to Aqaba and Wadi Rum, while doing that I have discovered through a friend working for travel agency that the contract they have for the rates in Aqaba, are divided to different categories of guests. A) Foreigners (i.e. Europeans and Americans) b) Gulf country citizens c) Jordanians d) Iraqi citizens.

The poor C group people are the ones that pay the most expensive rates ever, which is really close to the rack rates. All in all a trip to Beirut was more worth while.

Grrr ….so frustrating that traveling to another country is less expensive than staying in your own country !!

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although in defense of Group A (foreigners), the remaining 51 weeks we lack the sunshine that you probably take for granted.

Seriously, I can understand your frustration. Who "owns" the beach in Jordan? Is it public or private? Are Jordanian citizens allowed to put up beach property for rent?

Finally, wanted to pass this on to get your input as gto veracity for y students:


At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GIs may have planned Iraq rape, slayings

By RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 11 minutes ago

Investigators believe a group of U.S. soldiers suspected of raping an Iraqi woman, then killing her and three members of her family plotted the attack for nearly a week, a U.S. military official said Saturday.

Up to five soldiers are being investigated in the March killings, the fifth pending case involving alleged slayings of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops.

The Americans entered the Sunni Arab's family home, separated three males from the woman, raped her and burned her body using a flammable liquid in a cover-up attempt, a military official close to the investigation said. The three males were also slain.

The soldiers had studied their victims for about a week and the attack was "totally premeditated," the official said on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. The family had just moved into the home in the insurgent-riddled area around Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.

The U.S. military issued a terse statement about the killings Friday, saying only that Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged slaying of a family of four in Mahmoudiya.

U.S. officials said they knew of the deaths but thought the victims were killed in sectarian violence. But Mahmoudiya police Capt. Ihsan Abdul-Rahman said Iraqi officials received a report on March 13 alleging that American soldiers had killed the family in the Khasir Abyad area, about 6 miles north of Mahmoudiya.

There were some discrepancies over how many soldiers were being investigated. The U.S. military official said it was at least four. Two other U.S. officials said Friday that five were under investigation but one already had been discharged for unspecified charges unrelated to the killings and was believed to be in the United States.

The four still in the Army have had their weapons taken away and were confined to a U.S. base near Mahmoudiya, officials said. If convicted of premeditated murder, the soldiers could receive a death sentence under U.S. military law.

The suspects were from the 502nd Infantry Regiment and belonged to the same platoon as two soldiers kidnapped and killed south of Baghdad this month, another official close to the investigation said Friday. The soldiers' mutilated bodies were found June 19, three days after they were abducted by insurgents near Youssifiyah southwest of Baghdad.

The military has said one and possibly both of the slain soldiers were tortured and beheaded. The official said the mutilation of the slain soldiers stirred feelings of guilt and led at least one member of the platoon to reveal the rape-slaying on June 22.

One soldier was arrested after admitting his role in the alleged attack on the family, the official said on condition of anonymity because the case was under way. The official said the rape and killings appeared to have been a "crime of opportunity," noting that the soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.

One of the family members they allegedly killed was a child, said a senior Army official who also requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The senior official said the alleged incident was first revealed by a soldier during a routine counseling-type session. The official said that soldier did not witness the incident but heard about it.

A second soldier, who also was not involved, said he overhead soldiers conspiring to commit the crimes and then later saw bloodstains on their clothes, the official said.

The allegations of rape could generate a particularly strong backlash in Iraq, a conservative, strongly religious society in which many women will not even shake hands with men who are not close relatives.

The case is among the most serious against U.S. soldiers allegedly involved in the deaths of Iraqi civilians. At least 14 U.S. troops have been convicted.

Last week, seven Marines and one Navy medic were charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of an Iraqi man near Fallujah west of Baghdad.

U.S. officials are also investigating allegations that U.S. Marines killed two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians Nov. 19 in the western town of Haditha in a revenge attack after a fellow Marine died in a roadside bombing.

Other cases involve the deaths of three male detainees in Salahuddin province in May, the shooting death of an unarmed Iraqi man near Ramadi in February and the death of an Iraqi soldier after an interrogation at a detention camp in Qaim in 2003.


AP correspondent Ryan Lenz is embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, Iraq. He was previously embedded with the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Mahmoudiya. AP correspondent Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

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