The Middle East is among the fastest-growing regions in the world for international tourism. Although Jordan is seen as an island of peace and stability in the region, it lags behind its neighbors as a tourism destination. For a country that depends on tourism for 10 percent of its gross domestic product and a large number of jobs, this has significant implications for the economy. Of the more than 41,000 people working in Jordan’s tourism sector, women make up only 10 percent. This proportion is low and there is much scope for improvement, as tourism can offer many great career opportunities for Jordanian women.
Traditionally, as in many cultures around the world, Jordanian women have been expected to make home and hearth their priority. This paradigm is changing as more women begin investing in education and careers. Among available career tracks, hospitality and tourism stand out as promising, attractive options that are acceptable to their families and friends and hold earning potential.
Dana Al Sabbagh is one woman who is blazing this path. She received a scholarship, funded by the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project, to study culinary arts at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (RACA), the first step to realizing her passion for a career in the field. As a key part of their efforts to develop and promote the tourism sector in Jordan, the project actively supports the greater involvement of women in the sector by encouraging young women to pursue tourism and hospitality studies and gain qualifications needed to work in the industry. In 2010, 10 young Jordanian women, including Dana, received scholarships funded by the project to study at RACA.