Jordan’s middle class: Dead? Shrinking? or Growing?

Rich, poor and middle classes

I keep reading in the Jordanian press that the Jordanian middle class is shrinking. I’ve been reading this for 10 years and I have my own opinions about this. A few days ago, the above cartoon by Amjad Awartani was published in Ad-Dustour daily. It illustrates that in Jordan we have a small rich class, a big poor class and a dead (not even shrinking) middle class.

I would really like to know your opinion about this? Is this cartoon a true depiction of the situation in Jordan. What has your own (and your family’s) financial situation been like over the past few years? What about the people around you? Your close and distant friends and relatives?

Do you consider yourself middle class. rich or poor? And why?

How do you see your financial future?

I think this matter is worth discussing and exploring. Of course data and studies are important but so are matters of ‘perception’..

What do you think?


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34 Responses to “Jordan’s middle class: Dead? Shrinking? or Growing?”

  1. hamede Says:

    I consider my self poor cuz ther is no middle class no more
    and people hate what the see alla yuster.

  2. Abu 7amarneh Says:

    Dear, you should started by your self., right? let me ask you same questions…

    ME:
    Our financials are growing,,, doggo 3al 5ashab
    Relatives and friends… most of them are categorized as poor
    Future… id rather to see my self as a potential Tycoon,, but i know ill have above-average life..

    classification.. me and my family are middle class,,, we cant afford all the basics ya3ni decent housing, decent education, decent cars,, and we can make some of our luxury dreams true like vacations,,

    why? coz we dont have any brand new BMW’s outside,,, and we dont go to rome for a vacation time.

  3. Abu 7amarneh Says:

    sorry for the spelling mistake… we CAN affored the basics

    h3h3h3h3h3

  4. Hareega Says:

    I posted my view here http://hareega.blogspot.com/2005/12/middle-class-in-jordan-yeslam-raasko.html

    I think the middle class is truly vanishing in

  5. bakkouz Says:

    i do not agree that the middle class has completely died, but do agree that it is deminishing rapidly, and it is to be expected, it is a direct side effect of globalization and the so called new world order, a policy that Jordan has decied to take, there has been alternatives like the malaysian experience lead by former prime minister of Malaysia Mahatir Mohammed who lead a successful revolutionary anti-globalization economic plan that was very good for the country and managed to avoid the exact situation that is currently ongoing in Jordan. I know such moves can’t be taken in Jordan but at least it provides an alternative.

    I feel pitty for the middle class in jordan as i am one of them, and i don’t like at all the direction things are heading into, and i beleive this will become aparent more vividly in the future especialy in Aqaba where in 20 years time it will become on huge resort for the rich of amman and the tourists what with all the so called development projects which consist mostly of a huge number of hotels, resorts and artificial huge lakes that extend from the sea into the city, projects that went on in the special economic zone that only benefit the rich and has brought nothing to improve the lives of the ordinary middle classed man.

    I am not optimistic of the future at all. not for the middle class at least.

  6. rami abdelrahman Says:

    upper middle class, both parents were bankers in middle management.

    I don’t think its vanishing, i think it is actually widening to include people who used to be considered ‘poor’ and those who used to be considered ‘rich’.

    anyway, looking at the society from a ‘class’ perception is no longer scientifically feasible in todays world i guess. Things are too complex to be labelled in such a way.

    right now, am a poor student, trying to make it in one of the worlds most expensive countries, but rich with love :)

  7. Ahmad Says:

    A. Humeid what about you? I’m curios, what classification you fall under?

    Are you poor, mid-class or rich?

    Waiting your answer to give you mine…

    Ciao

  8. kinzi Says:

    Hhhmm…I suppose it would depend on the middle class level of debt; having the ‘stuff’ of middle class but the disposable income of poverty.

    I’m seeing lots of Jordanian friends supposedly ‘moving up’, from Hashmi to Tabur Boor, from Jabal Hussein to Dahiyat AlRashiid. I’m not sure moving West is improving quality of life except that they have done it to put their kids in private schools.

    Time will tell.

  9. Lina Says:

    hmmm… I don’t agree that the middle class is totally vanishing! I consider myself Middle Class. I would say that my parents have given us a comfortable life because they never pampered themselves extravagantly, but worked hard and saved, so that they can own a nice comfortable house, and send us to private schools, and buy nice clothes and go to the movies and hang out with our friends.

    I was telling a friend the other day, that although we go out in Amman, for coffee or lunch or whatever, on average 3 times a week, it is not very practical, and in reality, these things in Amman are expensive. Now we can afford it, because fortunately, we found good jobs upon graduation, and we don’t have any major responsibilities to worry about.. we don’t think what an appartment would cost for example, but when I start thinking that I should save, or have monthly car payments, I wonder why we don’t hang out at places like downtown Habibah and Balat Al-Rasheed where it costs less than one JD ;p let’s look at a simple calculation… you go out to a nice simple cafe like Wild Jordan or Crumz or whatever, and on average, your drink would cost 2.5 JDs, oh but you have to add tax and service, so you know you take 4 JDs out of your wallet. If you make 400 JDs a month, which is what a starting employee at a good company would make AT BEST, then you’re paying 1% of your salary for one cup of cafe Latte…

    I would like to think that my friends and I do represent a certain segment that is perhaps growing in Jordan… all of us were actively involved during our university years, and all of us found good jobs when we graduated without any help from our parents or ‘wasta’ whatsoever. I can think of 10 people who got good jobs based on their qualifications and right out of uni…

    Am I trapped in the West Amman perspective of things??!! I don’t know… but I see many people whose grandparents were not well off, who were farmers or had small shops or worked in the army, but who struggled to ensure that their kids got a good univetsity education, and that generation, the generation of our parents, did something with this education… and built a good life for themselves, and their children. How many people who live in Amman now are originally from Amman??

    Anyways, I’m sorry Ahmad I wrote too much, and probably didn’t even know how to answer the question… but I just had to blabber :p

  10. Lina Says:

    OK I was re-reading what I wrote and I feel I need to clarify a point, it is us (and not our parents), who get to go out with our friends and buy nice clothes and stuff. When I say that we go out on average three times a week, that is us and our friends, definitely not our parents…

  11. Phree Says:

    I’m not quite sure whether the middle class is deminishing or not but in my opinion it is the biggest segment of our society. I mean, what freaking poor-class dominated country doesn’t have public phones? (so many people have cell phones we dont need them anymore!).
    While many problems are because of low wages, rising prices and the like, blowing half of your 120 jds a month on something trivial is just bad handling of finances. and that happens everyday, on “created” needs, not basic and necessary ones.

  12. Batir Wardam Says:

    I have always been a middle class person and I hope I will remain so. I earn around 1200 JDs monthly from two jobs and maybe some extra consultancies. I live in an owned house but I have no investments, real estates, land or stocks in the market. My daily struggle is to maintain this quality of life but to do so I have to lose many hours of family relations and social life. The Middle Class is degrading due to price inflations and increasing economic pressures of all aspects. This is bad since the middle class has always been the driving force for political reforms and our middle class is engaged in a survival crusade. The ultimate breakdown of the middle class may hapen in case health and education services get all privatized in the future.

  13. Saqf Says:

    I have the impression that Jordan is evolving into something like one of the Far Eastern countries where the majority of the population will be serving the rich tourists and investors. Something like Malaysia, where from the outside, everything looks glamorous and expensive but in the suburbs, poverty, misery, prostitution, and all what comes along..

    We can’t be another Dubai, because their natives get many advantages over the expatriates, unlike our case in Jordan.

    As for my family, I know we wouldn’t be living abundantly without the care of Allah thru my American big brother. I know I can’t support my family the way he does, so we can’t be classified from the rich, poor or even middle class. We are from another class of the society that is dependant on Abroad AID (US in our case).

  14. Bashar Says:

    Thanks for this interesting post and questions, but I think it would be vague if we didn’t agree on the standards that a middle class is defined by.

    I mean what does it meant to be poor or rich ?? how much your uincome should be to fall under the rich category

    I don’t know if this is necessary to answer your questions, but I think it might be useful at least for a person to identify to what category he belong to.

    Thanks Again Ahmad..

  15. OmAr Says:

    it happened that I wrote about the exact issue, you can check it out.. to sum up, I totally see that middle class is vanishing…

  16. Ala'a A. Ibrahim Says:

    Poor, Rich, and something called Middle.
    I’ve always seen the Middle class close to the poor, like if it was something like:
    Poor Middle Rich

    I don’t consider my self rich. (My father didn’t open a company for me, or didn’t buy me a car). but in the other hand, I’m not Poor, as I can afford to eat, and save some extra from my humble salary. Ok some consider me from the poor class, but I don’t think so, as I see people who are really Poor, I know I cannot afford a lot of things, but at least I can afford the very basic things. I also find most of my friends in the same level as I do.
    I don’t know where this middle class lies, but I think that it still exists.

  17. Ala'a A. Ibrahim Says:

    Poor Middle                             Rich

  18. Ali Abdelhaq Says:

    Middle class exists but it depends on the standard classification and the measures of the middle class. Show us the standards and the measures.

    For me my father works in Abu dhabi and my brother works as a programmer and my mother works as an office manager and I am unemployed but we merely can bring the needs of life and we don’t even have a car. The thing is many poor classified groups of families are now having millions of their bank accounts because they just discovered that they have lands and sold them.

    Where we can find poor people in Amman working hard each day only to bring food to their families.

    Education, Origin, place of living, size of family and many other factors rule the classification of soceity classes, so that makes us think many times before judging if middle class has already vanished or not.

    We can find many guys and girls in Amman with new cars and they can buy whatever they want, but these huys do not know the real value of money because they were born with it. and then these people get married and the money is inherited and that might be the mechanism of high class society.

  19. Ali Abdelhaq Says:

    Sorry for changing the subject but please go to techhash.com and check the post “IT industry in Jordan and a developer’s uproar”

    IT IS JUST HOT ENOUGH TO BURN THE HEADS OF SOME BUSINESS MANAGERS AND OWNERS

  20. manal Says:

    From reading what everybody wrote, it proves my opinion to me, that it goes back to the person’s standerds and surrounding class, to consider them selves of being rich poor or middle some people might be richer than you and consider them selves not rich and some people might be less but consider them sleves rich.

    and in our fast growing system of life, every day there are things added to your life that will make you feel capabale or disable of living up to the level.There are so many elements must be added together and taken in consideration to be able to classify your status.

    But the middle class is a very large plate in any society and people status is always changinng going up and down, and you cant be either rich or poor, so i will say that the middle class is not dead, yes it is growing,all classes are growing the poor class the middle class and the rich class.but the ability of the middle class to live up to the level (which means adding accessories to their lives) is shrinking this is how i see and feel things changing in jordan the past 4-6 years.

    What would i consider myself i dont know, and it dosent make a diifrence to me from what class i am, but ofcourse i can not say poor.

    And i would like to hear your opion.

  21. manal Says:

    i changed my mind im poor
    check out the forbes list
    damn it takes alot of money to be a billionair

  22. hamede Says:

    When 5 to 6 people in one family work just to make it
    thats poor and thats why i consider my self poor.

  23. M Arrabi Says:

    I think the whole society is getting richer. Which also means that the standard of living is going up – and so do the costs of living.

    It’s hard to describe statistics without pictures. I’ll add a blog entry about this.
    But, mainly, there’s a wider variane (between the pooest & richest), but in general, most of the society is moving up.

    Why is this happening? because there is a good amount of money & investments that has come to Jordan recently. Three major reasons: 1- Iraq rebuilding (e.g. construction steel prices have doubled since US got into Iraq). 2- Gulf investors looking for alternate locations than US & Europe. 3- We are a stable country relatively in the region.

    A Gotcha: of the 3 reasons, 2 are external. Once they go away, we will go back to being poor.

    However, I also believe that some other countries, like UAE, Qatar & Saudi, are progressing faster than us. For them, #2 + growing oil prices help A LOT.

  24. Nader Says:

    Middle Class and struggling to stay there.
    It is really hard to live in here, it is so expensive when considering income.
    400 JD starting employee Lina where do you work ?

  25. Anas Rababah Says:

    actually nothing remains as it is, I consider myself and my family middle class,

    my family was so poor 20 years ago, but thanks god much better now,

    if I want to imagin jordan’s life next 10 years, I would say it would be much better.

    we can see a lot of projects are going to be built , and don’t say those for rich ppl only.

    these projects would provide a lot of vacancies, such as saraya aqaba which provides 9000 vacancies ..

    isn’t that good enough for a country doesn’t have any income like gulf counties

  26. Hat Says:

    well, I’ve been in Jordan recently for my summer vacation and I tell u guys, this country is no damn cheap, I can’t believe how expensive Amman is. When u compare the average salary of people in that country things simply don’t add up. Almost everything is more exepensive than any other country with the similar GDP.

    A house is becoming a dream, a car is becoming a dream, even if you own a car…how can you afford the petrol,,,this is truely unbelievable.

    Take an example the US, a free market, people make 10 times what a jordanian makes and still the petrol is 30% cheaper than it is in Jordan and there are many other examples like this.

    So a Jordanian with a salary of 500/month, can hardly survive, surely he will be eating bread and tomatos but that’s it.

    When you add the numbers (try putting your hosue mortgage, car loan, petrol and food), a family earning less than 1000/month no way can be classified as middle class.

    Taxes in the country are simply eating from people flesh and unless the government makes some dramatic improvements in the way it manages and distributes the country resources, there will be no improvements in people lives.

  27. sarah Says:

    I think the Middle Class hasnt vanished they have moved…..I really believe many of those who fall under Middle class have found a way to move out of Jordan, because to continue to live here they would see themselves dwindle down to a poor class. The rich Jordanians rarely move out of their own country, wanna know why? because being rich in Jordan its so nice to psort expensive cars and homes, we love the bling bling we love to show off its in our blood. When we move elsewhere like lets say to the States being rich there is not that big of a deal. For example I had a friend whose father in Jordan was rich and spoiled him with fancy cars while he was in high school and he got all the good looking girls, when he came to study in the States with his fancy cars its wasnt the same for him. He didnt have rock star experience, he didnt get people kissing his rear just cuz his dad is rich and he drives a nice car, so after a year he moved back to Jordan where he lives like a rock star!

  28. So, do you consider yourself rich or poor? Get an immediate answer! - 360east | design, media, technology Says:

    [...] A while back we had a lively discussion about the ‘death of the Jordanian middle class’ (here and here). A lot was said about the definition of rich, poor and ‘middle class’.. [...]

  29. Mo Says:

    Hey this is a little off the subject but I had a question for jordan residents. I currently live in the US but I was born in Amman and came here in high school. I guess you can call me a upper middle classs person here in the states but I have young childern and want them to live in an arabic enviroment. Basically my question to everybody here do you think its a good idea for raising kids there for that reason? Because of all the blogs I have read it seems that the good parts of town is very westernized and silly. So does that religous or conservative atmosphere still exist in western Amman or is it just a bunch of people who wish to copy what they thik is western culture? Thanks for your feedback

  30. Daly Says:

    Thank you for discussing such an interesting topic, however, I don’t actually agree. Personally my family was considered a middle class by the beginning of the ninties and now we’re considered as upper middle class. We still can’t afford vacations in europe, but we can go wilder sometimes and buy a fancy car. All of my friends are from the upper middle class, and I just graduated from ASU and I can assure you that 80% of students there are considered middle class “upper/lower”. so is the case with the other private universities and in some local universities as well. We cannot just ignore the middle class’ existence in the Jordanian society, for it is still there mostly in westen Amman like my case , but also in newly growing areas in other parts of Amman.

  31. Abdoul Says:

    I think that the middle class is not vanishing, it is just becoming smaller. Most of the people just become upper-middle or poor class. I was born in a rich family in Palestine and live in Jordan after 1967. Before few years we became significently poorer because of family disaster, but not connected with economic development of the country. Now we are middle or upper-middle class (It depends what are your measures), I win enough for feeding my family, to buy a modern car and to go eating outside one or two times per week. My son and my niece are students and I should put away quite much money for their education but it is still not bad.

  32. russell Says:

    Dear all. The idea of which class you are is very subjective. Generally, families who work hard and go to University and attain a very good job tend to explain to everyone that they and their family is middle class.

    However, let me clarify. If you have to work to live and pay the bills you are working class. That inlcudes senior management positions. You can, therefore, be highly educated and well paid working class.

  33. David Says:

    I lived in Jordan for 6 years and i still have friends there. The middle class is PAST or, lets say SOON PAST. As an example, i came to jordan, a shawerma sandwitch costed 0.25 jds and now almost a 1 jd!
    now this insane rise in prices is not compatible with the salaries and incomes that are around 500 jds at the best public cases and constant raises are provided only to Military and Police personnel!.

  34. Code Says:

    I think it’s a matter of classifications here, what does it mean to be middle class ? how much you should earn ? where should you live and what are the places you usually go to ?? then you have these smaller classifications, upper middle class, lower and so on.

    I don’t think the middle class is vanishing, maybe the nature of it is changing, maybe what used to be a middle class 10 years ago is just poor or closer to poor now, who used to be rich is not anymore ! the main reason is the continuous rise of expenses, what used to be enough 5 years ago is nowhere near enough now, so the standards are changing, and the classes are shifting accordingly.

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