When I wanted to visit Jordan during a one day layover, I had to check the visa policy. As usual, I go on Jordan’s embassy website and check. The list starts from Afghanistan, Algeria, Albania… it’s in alphabetical order. The answer to “Do you need a visa?” is either NO (for visa-free) or YES (for needs visa). I get to the letter M to finally find my country with a special treatment. Some Moroccans need a visa while other Moroccans do not need a visa. This division seems to be based on gender. Yes, men go to Jordan visa-free whilst women under 35 years old require a visa!
I was very happy that I didn’t need a visa to visit Jordan. However, I felt like it’s unfair. Why Moroccan women need a visa, while I can go visa-free by simply being a man? I asked myself this question. It is also a question some of my female followers asked. They were quite shocked so there is the need for me to write this article.
Why such policy?
Given that Jordan has a very open-minded and socially engaged kingdom, I’m wondering if it’s all in front of the media? Seriously! Such policy does not reflect Queen Rania’s image of openness, liberalism and feminism.
In the UAE, I hear that Moroccan women have troubles visiting as a tourist. But ALL Moroccans need a visa, men and women. Likewise for other countries such as Saudi Arabia or Qatar. However, Jordan’s visa policy surpassed the one of more conservative countries in the region as it was explicitly discriminatory. Men do not need a visa, but Women do. Simple as that.
On the one hand, I hear that Moroccan women are causing troubles when visiting. Some report that they “steal” husbands from Middle-Eastern women. Some report that Moroccan women are too liberal for Middle-Eastern values and standards. So it’s all various reasons that I hear from my friends or see on TV. But what does this have to do with visas? If visas seem the only solution, then why not require a visa for all Moroccans!
Why isn’t Morocco doing anything?
Well, Morocco doesn’t care apparently. If I were in charge, I would tell Jordan: either visa-free for all, or nothing. But it seems to be a problem of gender inequality in Morocco itself. So, Moroccan politicians are no better placed to make changes overseas in issues that are so much present in Moroccan society daily.
It is a general problem in our tragic “Arab” world. When will women and men be treated equally in our region? Why does Jordan or Morocco have Queens that promote great and noble principles. But in the deep reality, women are worth nothing on the ground.
So Jordan’s visa policy reflects perfectly the Arab society. However, it is not conform with the “open, liberal and clean” image of the country. In fact, it is a total contradiction.
Before visiting, I thought that Jordan would be different from other countries in the region. I imagined it to be more developed in social matters and more democratic. But the moment I read that visa policy sheet, I already changed my mind. However, I had an amazing transit in Amman. I love the city and I think it’s very nice, Jordanians surely are very friendly and gave a good impression to me.
Even though, I was not disappointed by my day trip to Amman. I remain however not impressed at all by such visa policy.
It’s easier to travel to Europe than other Arab states
This is absolute madness. But I find it nowadays easier as Moroccan to travel to Europe rather than Arab states. There are borders everywhere, harsh visa policies to each other and very costly applications. Some Arab states visas are insanely expensive that it is for me cheaper and less problematic to get a visa to Israel rather than Qatar.
Again, this is our Arab reality. It is tragic. We all dream of that North Africa and Middle-East region all as one state. But what can we do if borders are closing down, walls are being built and relations fading away.
The case of Jordan visa policy for Moroccan women reminds us that there is still a lot of work to do. I still dream sometimes of a United Arab Nation from Morocco to Iraq where we all feel the same, equal and united. No matter our religion, race, nationality, ethnicity or gender. We should feel welcome everywhere.
Even though borders are being built daily to prevent Arabs from visiting other Arab states, there is some hope. This hope comes from people! No matter where they come from, I never had bad experiences with Arab people. I always feel welcome whenever I go, whether it’s in Lebanon or Saudi Arabia. And I am sure, that some Moroccan women would feel frustrated with Jordan visa policy. But in reality, many women in Jordan are themselves frustrated with such policies and I’m sure they are compassionate.
Jordan visa policy to Moroccans is a demonstration that politics can have an impact on ordinary people. I know many Moroccan women who have cancelled their trip to Jordan because of the visa policy. I think it’s a shame and I hope this issue will be solved soon for better relations between our people and better place for the next generations!
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Do you think Jordan visa policy is discriminatory towards women?