Mansaf on 'layaway' sparks outrage in struggling Jordan

Mansaf on 'layaway' sparks outrage in struggling Jordan
"What are you in for? For two platters of Mansaf… You'll be locked up by sheep, rather than debtors," one user said sarcastically.
2 min read
30 March, 2023
In addition to mockery, Jordanians said the necessity of paying for mansaf in installments points to troubling economic woes. [Getty]

Jordanians reacted with outrage after an advertisement which offered customers a Ramadan special to pay for Mansaf, the country's national dish, in instalments over three months.

A Jordanian financing company ran an advertisement which told customers they could "split up the price of their feast," referring to the practice of hosting large meals to break the Ramadan fast.

An advertisement which offers customers the option to pay for mansaf in installments over three months.

Mansaf, a dish of stewed lamb and fermented yoghurt over rice, is served on special occasions and family gatherings and is often used to express generosity and hospitality.

Jordanians responded with anger and sarcasm and took to social media to mock the ad.

"What are you in for? For two platters of Mansaf… You'll be locked up by sheep, rather than debtors," one Twitter user commented, making light of the existence of debtor's prison in Jordan.

"I'm looking for somebody to be my guarantor, I need Mansaf in instalments!" another wrote.

Others have taken the advertisement as a troubling sign of Jordan's economic state.

"The cost of living is getting more and more expensive. The economic culture of Jordan is pushing people to take loans to invite people for meals," Laith Ajlouni, a Jordanian political economist, told The New Arab.

Jordan's economy is in dire straits, with the price of food and fuel rising precipitously since the war in Ukraine.

According to a January World Bank report, inflation has reached its highest level since 2018.

Live Story

Subsidies have also been slashed to reduce Jordan's fiscal deficit, but analysts say that subsidies have not been replaced by adequate social safety nets or accompanied by reforms.

The latest unemployment figures put the unemployment rate at 22.9 per cent, and up to 46 per cent among those under 25 per cent. Jordan also has one of the lowest female labour participation rates in the world.

In December, the country was paralysed by a weeks-long general strike centred around the rising fuel cost.

The government cracked down on protests after a Jordanian police officer was shot and killed in the southern province of Maan.

The country's economic malaise is particularly felt in the holy month of Ramadan, where nightly gatherings require families to spend significant sums on food.

This Ramadan has been more difficult than in recent years because it occurs in winter and Jordanian expatriates have yet to visit Jordan yet, al-Ajlouni explained.