Is Jordan A Valet Culture?

During an interview I had last week, the subject was talking about a major project taking shape in Jordan that will be offering a valet service.

“Because after all, we are a valet culture,” he told me.

And I’ve been thinking about that statement ever since. To me, and I’m sure to many of you, valet parking has always had a strong ring of elitism to it. Think about it. You often see it in the movies or on TV but the character is always showing up at an expensive hotel or at an elegant party, dressed in a tuxedo. That’s when the guy wearing the white shirt and vest shows up to take your Ferrari to a safe hiding place until you call upon it once again.

I’ve also traveled quite a bit, and I have to say, Amman may be at the top of the list when it comes to number of valet parking services. I’ve seen them at a number of typical and strange venues that include numerous malls, hotels, cafes, restaurants, private schools, banks and even gyms. They have become a fundamental part of opening a service-oriented business in Jordan, and specifically Amman.

Is it because parking spaces are limited? Does it help induce a sense of self-importance? Or is it because we hate walking distances of any sort? Because I’ve also noticed that most drivers seem to despise parking far from the place they’re going to and prefer to circle around till they can park right in front of the place or no more than 20 meters away from it. Is that why valet parking is so popular?

In Swefieh, the Greater Amman Municipality just opened a parking plaza, which I think is a pretty decent idea. Essentially, people can park their car in this several-story building and then either walk to their destination or take a bus that circles around the shopping district and has various pick-up points. I’m not sure if this service is in full effect at the moment, however, I would be curious to know whether people are actually using it or if it has made an impact on the traffic situation in that area. Perhaps it’s too early to tell but it may be the perfect petri dish to discover if people still prefer to circle around and find a parking spot close by, or better yet, use a store’s valet service.

While this might be a culture reserved for west Amman, west Amman’s circumference is growing everyday, and the overwhelming majority of its inhabitants are far from being considered remotely “wealthy”, just simply a little more well-off than others. In other words, how affordable is it to be considered a “valet culture”, and I don’t mean “affordable” necessarily in the conventional financial sense of the word.

What do you think?

Anyone have any “interesting” valet experiences?


  • that’s not that outrageous actually. In Mexico city some McDonald’s’ and Starbucks’ have valet parking and doormen. Given the size of the city and it’s ever congested streets, I have to say that it has to do with limited number of street parking spaces available. In the Arab world, however, showing off is as much of a necessity as Oxygen is. Think of those pretentious douche bags insisting on putting their cell phones on the table in front of them.

  • personally I hate Valet parking and always refuse to use it and even park away from the place of my destination for the simple reason that I do not want any strangers to drive my car even for 200 meters. For many people here the reason is showing off, especially ladies of west Amman who are too delicate to walk any distance. It is not an issue of lack of parking places, any typical Jordanian would treble park without any sense of responsibility and guilt and do not need valet parking.

  • I do not use valet parking, somehow my car is like my home on the road and I don’t invite strangers in.

    I HATE the circling habits (or triple parking habits) of those who will not walk 50m. Whether is it delicate ladies or busy businessmen. When I must go to Sweifiyyah (which I only have to do once a month to get paid), I park in my fav place and walk to avoid the circling/triple parked/take up four spaces with bad parking dilemma.

  • Valet parking is so popular because people park and drive like morons and urban planning considers parking lots an afterthought. The JDs i pay for valet is money well spent so i dont arrive at functions outraged by how big an ordeal it is to park or worry about not being able to get the car out when i leave.

  • I agree with Maha, urban planing in 3amman is the #1 reason why valet has become popular. Just look at the map of 3amman on google maps, frankly it gives me a headache just trying to make sence of it. But I also think that convenience as well as elitism and wanna-be elitism plays a big part.

    That said, Im often stuck in the middle about this, on the one hand I HATE.. no actually i LOATHE…ya i definatly loathe..the idea of having some randome person in the driver seat of my car, because who knows what might go missing. But on the other I tend to opt for valet parking when I have people with me simply because I feel sort of bad for making them walk. That i feel, is a product of what just might be described as a valet culture… S#@t!

  • I was visiting my family in Jordan recently and happened to visit City Mall where my Mom insisted on having her car keys back before we entered the mall (as it is prohibited to park your own car and must give it to the valet). And guess what?? When we left the mall and gave the Valet the key to bring the car over, there was a huge scratch across the front of the car! Not only was the valet driving at over 50mph inside the parking lot, their supurvisor insisted that we must be making the whole incident up and that there was no way that the car was hit inside the parking lot!

    I will never give the car to a valet again and think it ridiculous that you need a valet to park your car when going to a café. Maybe walking two minutes from the car to the place will benefit the increasingly obese women and men in our country!

  • I also dislike valet parking so much. But i had a friend who worked as one. And now i exactly know how their “bisha7to” and enjoy the cars. Especially when they had a Hummer h2.

    Its sad to see tho that some people need to work as valets and the extra tip really helps them, heck its actually part of the salary. So i would say refrain from valets but when necessary tip them a lot.

    If you cant over tip, don’t be over lazy and walk.

  • i don’t think the problem is with the people parking the cars, the problem is with the lazy people who won’t walk and park their car themselves. complaining about a scratch on your car that you gave to valet is kind of like complaining about poverty from the Hyatt.

    get off your lazy bums and walk.

  • I think that the Valet thing represents on side of a growing gap; More people are joining the ” poor ” Group, less people are joining the ” I need a Valet” group. We only notice the second group because they can afford spending more time out of home.

    And wher is my Piaster?

  • Hello Black Iris,

    Thanks for bringing this up, its a source of constant wonder to c how this service has been “IMPOSED” on us in Amman, usually without our personal consent, where available parkings are all closed down and your key is “rudely requested”… at a point of time in Sweifieh, I felt like I was mugged when I had to move my car (even though it was parked at a considerable distance away to avoid this whole situation), and the guy who has covered his face with a (7atta) decided he had the right to blackmail for half a JD…or else! Whoever said we a a valet society!!! they have this whole concept ALL WRONG!

  • I would rather not valet park, especially when the restaurant has their own parking lot but they are forcing you to use their service instead of parking by yourself. That is dumb.

    I have used the parking lot in Swefieh and I think it is a great idea and I am confounded as to why there are not garages like this in every part of town. Parking is a major problem in Amman and if I were a wealthy land owner here, I would dedicate a big piece of land to a garage in a heartbeat. You can make money off of the ‘rent’ of these cars and rent some space to some businesses like we are seeing in Swefieh. InshAllah that is part of the future of Amman.

    And if there were more parking garages, I would spend more time shopping and visiting things in town than avoiding going out. Fact.

  • I´m ok with Valet parking if it is a free service, and if it will really make your life easier…

    And because I don´t have a valet culture, and neither the 90% of Ammani´s who wonder about this service rather than use it, I paid the guy .25 JOD at a parking lot infront of the coffee house I went to last month, he gave me that look, am I really cheap?! but I didn´t even want anybody to help me! why should I pay more! and he didn´t even ask me for a specific amount..


  • I hate it too, I gave my car once to a guy to park and the car ended up locked WITH KEYS INSIDE + the paint scratched due to the numerous efforts in trying to open the door. Nevertheless sometimes I do hand in the key when there is no place to park.

  • I use Valet parking at CITY MALL when i (HAVE) to go there, And i once had to use it when i went to CEASERS at JABAL WEBDEH, And honestly i would use Valet all the time, It’s more comfortable and you won’t have to worry how to find a parking, Specially in crowded places such as swefieh and city mall.

    Yes i don’t like to walk much, I agree with you on that point, A lot of people don’t like to talk, I rather circle the area until i find a close parking.

  • Although Amman’s climate, topography, poor urban planning, bad infrastructure and treacherous sidewalks all factor into this, the real reason I believe is cultural. Valet parking, domestic servants etc .. etc … are all symptoms of the same disease: a pampered West Amman elite that is disconnected from the rest of the society and yet still complains about everything.

  • An interesting scenario develops Nas when you merge out of a scooter at the entrance of the establishment that offers “Valet parking” which highlights the failure of the offering. As Ruba mentioned; along with Valet parking comes the occupation of most or all available parking spots around the establishment. Hence if you didn’t want to use the service, you don’t really have the choice but to avoid the vicinity of your destination even if there was available spots. there!

    For me, I arrive on my scoot to say Zaatar W Zeit, i “pretend” that i’m OK with the valet parking attendant taking over my scoot to tuck it away nicely, they’re hesitant, they’re stuck between two things, having not done it before and the low perception of scooters and probably the people on them.

    At this particular venue however, after the attendant refused taking the scoot, the only sensible action was to park it myself in front of the building at an available free spot, but the supervisor refused, as he just made up his mind that this parking spot is for “cars only”, and the scoot is more approriate over the pedestrian pavement not to obstruct customers’ cars… Remember I’m not a customer, I’m a scooter driver, highlighted after he became derogatory of me and my choice of transportation with statements such as “في حد بيجي بيوكل هان على صكوطر”… Now i didn’t move it an inch and made an official complaint to which the manager and the supervisor both apologized.

    Beside of course the endless instructions that parking attendants and valet gurus make up on spot when a scooter approach, for no good reason but it being a scooter and that’s it’s new (three years onward) thing and that it is “scooter”

  • Ramsey, you seem to not have read what I said: “(as it is prohibited to park your own car and must give it to the valet)”. I.e. they don’t allow you to park there and you have to give the car to the valet so nothing to be lazy I’m afraid!

  • Sana, I believe you can park in the undergroud parking lot. I have done it a couple of times however getting back outside has proven to be a challance once or twice due to the fact that they like to open and close garage doors whenever they feel like it, doors located within the parking lot making it impossible to get out… u gotta love Arab organization, we are so good at it 🙂

  • If I drove more in Amman, I’d probably be more sympathetic to valet parking, if only because parking spaces for me can be like little minefields of harassment. Cars provide excellent cover for dudes who are just hanging out, and won’t pass up an opportunity to give you an earful or, as it happened to me a couple of times in Abdoun, just try to scare you and think it’s hilarious and a big joke. On the other hand, people working the valet service can themselves take liberties, and you DO worry about your car, and, hey, I like to do my own parking just fine, you know? There’s something about being in control of your vehicle that’s really precious. And walking is nice. Or would be nice. And the tips add up.

    And I sign on to everyone who’s said that parking in Amman can be pretty difficult. I mean, I like to think I’m an experienced driver, 8+ years now. But it’s frustrating and I don’t necessarily blame someone for just wanting to toss the key to the valet, especially if you CAN tip them well.

  • true, its a bit wierd this valet parking culture in amman, but as a woman, my motiviation is slightly different, i d rather give my car to a polite guy to park it somewhere along the road rather than walk on the street and have to listen to rude comments from guy standing around or passing by

  • a valet culture .. did he think that is a compliment?

    to me it is very offensive .. to describe people as having a valet culture makes it sound like they are a bunch of snobs .. and as we all know snobs are douchebags 😀

  • I just have one question : do most of these places really OWN that parking space ? of course not … and every citizen have the absolute right to park in these spaces because they are his/her own as much as the place itself ! its outrageous how some cafes and restaurants occupy all possible parking places around its premises to force you to choose their valet service … its absurd !!!!

  • Valet parking is a new trend in Jordan and to some people it’s a must do etiquette. To some companies it might be an added value to their service. The question is what does it mean to the city?

    I asked GAM if they give anybody permits for businesses who claim the ownership of the street curb, but they don’t, even some businesses claim that they pay for the valet spots.

    The problem has many dimensions. I don’t support the whole idea, but if we want to imitate other countries it needs to be regulated, any claimed Valet Parking should be done through a certified operators, this way we make sure that the car is safe and the driver is qualified to drive.

    I don’t wanna suggest accommodating valet parking but GAM and We need to find a better solutions for the increasing problem of Parking in Jordan.

    It does frustrate me when I see an empty parking spot along the street side being reserved for the business customers or a VIP personnel, while I have to circulate the blocks trying to find an empty spot! Last weekend I saw a whole street in Abdoun, arround Crums and Limon, full of unoccupied reserved spots while everybody was looking for a spot!!!

    The street side belongs to all people, we payed for the ownership when we payed our taxes.

    The valet parking concept is based on taking the car to the parking lot and not to the street side.

    It really frustrate me to see this in Jordan. We need to build a campaign against this practice.
    More about this:

  • “I don’t think we can call Jordanian valet service a mark of elitism when it only costs JD 1.”

    looool sorry man, i couldn’t resist.

    that made my day! 😀

  • go to say Shaman or Romero, and on ur way out give the valet guy JD1 and see the look he will give you lol a bit more and he will spit on us…..which is what bugs me about this, instead of worrying about the mood of the valet person and his views if JD1 is good or no, cant we set a fixed charge and parking meters on each street corner and become like Europe?

    the other thing is if a valet person hits your car whilst parking it they either hide it from you, lie if you find out, or even if they admit it you cannot really claim anything from them…

  • I personally would love to know about the legality of the whole situation. Where I live is not too far from the University of Jordan, and parking there during the school year is an absolute nightmare. A company tried to take advantage of the situation and set up a valet service there. Its employees would come quite early and place poles to indicate that these spots were reserved for the company. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over so well, and people would just remove the poles and park their cars (rightly so).
    I’m not so sure that businesses have the right to utilize th sidewalk for their valet as well. Technically speaking, no one owns the sidewalk, so is reserved parking even legal?
    I also know that for a place to gain the coveted three-star rating by the Tourism Ministry (thus allowing you stay open during Ramadan, etc…) you have to have a valet service. Silly but true.

  • Valet service has nothing to do with luxury – it helps business regulate customer traffic coming inside to keep the flow organized, and it controls traffic by allocating a specific property to park cars in a business-controlled fashion.

    You no longer decide to not go somewhere becaue it’s crowded and you no longer miss your 6 o’clock dinner with someone important because you were hunting for a spot to leave your car.

    Valet in the U.S. is available at any movie theater, mall, restaurant, even some of the busier urban McDonald’s, and it’s free – again, it’s to control traffic and a public service run on tips it isn’t luxurious.

  • Kyle, I don’t know if I agree with your statement about valet’s regulating traffic. I am frequently frustrated by having my progress blocked on a public road and needing to wait 3 -5 minutes for the valet service to clear the cars off the road in front of me.

    As a non-Jordanian, the valet culture here baffles me. A couple months ago I had my first valet parking experience at a Starbucks of all places! (I had no choice) I don’t know many other places where a Starbucks would have valet parking.

    I also think that if a business wants to offer valet, they should do so in a privately owned parking space and not take up all the free parking on the road. Like many others here, I question the legality of this practice.

    I personally will go to great distances to avoid valet parking and tend to park large distances away from my destination because – in the end – it saves time (over the double or triple loop) and the walk helps to work off the effect of eating too many Jordanian sweets.

  • The only country where a Toy shop has Valet service is in Amman! I think most of the problem is with bad Urban Planning. We don’t have public parking lots though space is avaialble. We also lack the culture of walking in the streets, except for parts in E Amman.

  • i was in Amman few months ago for couple weeks and saw this phenomenon. the most ridiculous thing when valet operators and/or owners charge money for people to park on the street which is a public property. that is B.S.! typical opportunism which i though was everywhere in Amman. but if city would place parking garages, parking meters, force business to accommodate spaces for their clients, it might take care of this problem. for certain business, valet remains a must.

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