Recently there have been a spate of blogs examining how things work in Jordan. Raghda Butros writes in 7iber on the positive experience of renewing her ID card in JO. Tarawnah compares renewing a passport in Jordan to doing so at the Canadian embassy, concluding that it’s ‘interesting to see something in the public sector that Jordan is actually better at than a first world nation.”
Meanwhile on 360east Humeid paints a black picture of Jordan’s deteriorating Universities, and why he’ll be sending his kids abroad to study unless something changes. This was a fairly shocking post actually.
I thought I’d add my two cents, just generally. I don’t know much about bureaucracy in Jordan, but I do know about it in the USA, UK and Europe – and at times it borders on the absurd. If at times Jordan suffers from a lack of rules, the West suffers from way too many – the weight and intricacy of bureaucracy becomes an impediment to getting anything done. Try filling in a college application to a UK or US University, organizing anything with the banks, cancelling a mobile or satellite subscription, or working with the health services.
I met a British couple a few weeks back who had to have an interview with social services, three references from a priest, and a ‘home visit’ in order to get their child into a Catholic School for one year. The bureaucracy only ever seems to work one way: student loans have taken half your salary by mistake and take four months to pay it back. Your Landlord goes into liquidation so the deposit takes a year and a half to be returned. The parking ticket machine is broken, but they fine you anyway…
I remember once walking into a small medical clinic in Warwick, to ask how a family member was doing:
Me: Am just checking up on my [relative]. Have they seen the doctor?
Receptionist: Sorry, data protection, that’s confidential
Me: Fine can I go inside to walk them back home when there’re finished?
Receptionist: For security reasons we can only allow patients inside.
Me: Fine can i wait here?
Receptionist: Please wait outside.
Me: It’s raining. Okay. Can I book an appointment for later in the week?
(Receptionist looks me up and down)
Receptionist: What’s wrong with you?
Me: Sorry I can’t tell you that – Data Protection.
Another time – at college – i got disciplined for standing on a department balcony one sunny spring day, due to ‘health and safety’ regulations and ‘concerns about suicide’….
Sometimes the way things work in Amman can be refreshing. A few weeks ago i read a piece bemoaning the “excessive personalization of affairs in Middle Eastern Business and Politics” and a lack of “appropriate institutions.” The comment left me feeling torn. After all, Europe has lots of institutions :-p