What should I pack to attend Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan 2019? And other FAQs

A short guide to visiting Amman for Western attendees of our first full MENA conference

What should I pack to attend Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan 2019? And other FAQs

A few days from now, the games industry will be in Amman for Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan 2019.

It will be our first two-day conference in the Middle East region and promises to be a productive and informative couple of days. You can expect the usual mix of talks, panels, pitches and networking. It takes place at the King Hussein Business Park, about 40 minutes’ drive from the international airport.

The Gaming Summit has been running in Jordan for many years so you may have had the opportunity to visit Amman before. But we realise that for some of our attendees, it will be their first trip to the region. Here are a few tips for getting by.

Do I need a visa to enter Jordan?

Residents of most countries need a visa to enter Jordan. But in many cases, this can be obtained at the airport upon arrival. You can check if this is true of your departure country, here:

For most European and MENA region countries an entry visa can be obtained upon arrival, for a cost of 40 Jordanian Dinar (JOD), about £45/€50/$55.

Many of the Pocket Gamer team have been to Jordan before and can confirm that visa purchase is straightforward and involves a short queue during the arrivals process.

Tourist visas are valid for one month. If you overstay your visa you will be fined. There’s an additional 10 JOD exit visa fee if you leave the country at a land border – but we assume most of our attendees will be flying out, and there is no exit fee at an airport.

Is Amman safe for Westerners?

Despite unrest in other nearby Arab states, Jordan is a secure country and very welcoming to visitors. Around 70,000 British nationals visited Jordan in 2017 and most visits are trouble-free, according to the official UK government website.

“Jordan is very safe to visit,” says the Lonely Planet guide to Jordan. “You are unlikely to feel any hint of the turmoil of neighbouring countries. The democratic uprising during the Arab Spring of 2011 was only fleetingly experienced in Jordan. King Abdullah II is a respected leader and has wide public support.”

The 2011 Legatum Prosperity Index, referencing national Gallup polls, revealed that Jordan is among the five countries whose citizens feel safest walking the streets at night. “Jordanians enjoy high levels of safety in their personal lives,” it concluded.

The games industry is informal and comfortable wear should be appropriate in most circumstances

You may witness metal detectors at the entrance to hotels; this is a common formality and intended for your safety. “Over the past decade, the Jordanian government has invested significantly in tourism,” notes the Lonely Planet guide. “With so much at stake in terms of revenue, there is a collective desire to maintain Jordan’s reputation as a safe destination.”

Theft and major scams are rare. As with any capital city in the world, though, do be mindful of pickpockets at nightspots.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against travel to within 3km of Jordan’s border with Syria (in the north) for obvious reasons. Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan 2019 does not take place near this region.

Obviously, every country on Earth experiences terrorism or protests to some extent. Nobody can guarantee a smooth trip anywhere in the world and you should take care of your personal safety, whichever conference or event you’re attending, and have suitable travel insurance.

I travel a lot. Is it a problem that I’ve been to Israel before?

That should not be a problem. “Evidence of a previous visit to Israel like an Israeli entry/exit stamp in your passport does not normally cause any difficulties when entering Jordan,” says the UK government site on travel to the region.

Likewise, a Jordanian stamp in your passport should not prove a hindrance for any future travel.

Is there a dress code?

There is no fixed dress code for Pocket Gamer Connects itself. The games industry is an informal one, and although this is a professional event where you will hopefully meet potential business partners, comfortable wear should be appropriate in most circumstances.

Photo courtesy of the Jordan Gaming Summit 2018

Jordan is not an especially conservative country, and women visiting Jordan do not need to cover their head (although you will meet many locals who do). However please be sensitive to the local Islamic culture. We recommend avoiding revealing clothing. “You should dress modestly and behave courteously,” advises the official UK government guide to travelling in Jordan. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are best left at home – it’s not summer in November so your beachwear is probably unnecessary anyway. Loose clothes that cover your arms, legs, chest and back will be a big help in enabling you to relax comfortably with everybody you meet, especially if you plan to go exploring.

What will the weather be like? Should I pack for sunny days?

Jordan is a warm country but this is not the hottest time of the year. You may be lucky and find the days up to 10 degrees warmer than November in the UK, but it’s worth bringing a sweater or jacket for the evenings, when the temperature can drop. It may even rain – clouds and light showers are not uncommon, so be prepared if you’re visiting Petra (see below).

Alcohol is allowed in Jordan. However, it is illegal to drink alcohol on the street, so keep it inside

Do I need a travel adaptor for my computer and phone?

If you’re travelling from the US or the UK, you should probably bring a travel adaptor.

Sockets in Jordan are not always consistent, but in hotels, the most common type takes European two round-pin plugs. However, the track building at the King Hussein Business Park where most of Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan 2019 takes place actually has a majority of UK (three-pin) plugs.

The local voltage is 230 V (comparable to the UK and Europe).

Can I take a laptop on a plane from the Middle East these days?

Yep. Restrictions on electronics on aircraft to and from Jordan were lifted in 2017.

Why does Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan 2019 take place at the weekend?

Saturday and Sunday might be days off in the UK, but not in the Middle East. Friday is typically the day of rest in Jordan and the MENA region. It’s common for professional events to take place on Saturdays and Sundays.

Will there be alcohol at the Pocket Gamer party and the speaker dinner?

Yes. Alcohol is allowed in Jordan.

However, be aware: it is illegal to drink alcohol on the street – so keep it inside the bars and restaurants. Public drunkenness is not tolerated, so please make plans to get home swiftly, smoothly and safely after a night out. As with everywhere you travel on business, it’s good advice to always be sensitive to local customs and traditions.

Does Uber operate in Amman?

Yes, Uber is available in Jordan. The regional alternative is Careem, an Arabic ride-sharing app.

Local yellow taxis are readily available and can actually work out cheaper than Uber.

There is more information about local travel at the Experience Jordan site.

What are the local customs regarding tipping?

You should tip meal servers, taxi drivers and hotel staff a small amount. It is common to tip 10% on top of restaurant bills. More advice at this Jordanian tourist site.

Uber is available in Jordan. It is common to tip 10% on top of restaurant bills

What should I do in an emergency?

You can contact emergency responders by calling 911.

If you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British embassy in Amman

As with all travel, we advise you to have your own comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling outside your home territory.

Will I be able to visit famous tourist sites during my trip to Pocket Gamer Connects?

Yes! Our hosts are organising a trip to the magnificent Petra, with stops along the way to see the view at Juhair and explore the Udruh Archaeological Site, including an Ottoman castle and Mosaic Church. This trip takes place the day after the conference, costs $150 (free for VIPs and selected speakers) and is by invitation only – once you’re registered for Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan 2019 you will be sent options to take part.

If you’re looking for other things to do and see in the region, check out our guide.

We’ve put together a guide to the games market in the region - a little light reading on the industry in Jordan and surrounding countries to get you prepared.

Photos of Petra and Amman cityscape by Dave Bradley during 2018 visit to the Gaming Summit. Stage photo of the Gaming Summit 2018 from the Jordan Gaming Summit Facebook page and used with permission for promotional purposes.

COO, Steel Media Ltd

Dave is a writer, editor and manager who today is Steel Media's Chief Operations Officer. He gets involved in all areas of the business, from front-page editorial to behind-the-scenes event strategy. He began his career in games and entertainment journalism back in the 1990s when Doom came on floppy disks. You can contact him with any general queries about Pocket Gamer, Beyond Games or Steel Media's other websites, conferences and initiatives.