Remembering names in Jordan

Getting to know local people by their names can be quite confusing sometimes while you need an elephants brain to remember all the names people have over here. I’ll try to explain it to you with the following story:


Grandmother and grandfather name their son Mohammad. Since there are so many Mohammads, Mohammad’s also called Mohammad Khalifah, referring to the first name of the father. When Mohammad gets a daughter who’s name is Dunya, people will start calling Mohammad, Abu Dunya (father of Dunya). Until the son is born, who’s name is Ahmed. Then Mohammad Khalifah, also known as Abu Dunya will be called Abu Ahmed after the oldest son. Same story goes for all the women in Jordan. In stead of Abu, they will be Umm (mother of) and then the name. So you don’t just need to remember one name, every person has about 3 different names.

My family in law has about 2000 people with the same last name. Thank god we don’t need to visit them all which would mean I needed to remember around 6000 different names. We do meet with the ‘close’ family which means all the brothers and sisters of the parents of Mohammad and with his own brothers and sisters, the number of people comes close to 150 persons, think about all of them having 3 names (and a lot of children!) plus the fact that I’m not able to pronounce many of the names while they’re Arabic and I’ve never heard them before. And then people look strange to me when I don’t know their name. Sorry! Haha

And then we don’t even start about all the nicknames that are used to keep all the Mohammeds, Ahmeds  or Abdullahs also separated from each other! Can you still keep up?



4 thoughts on “Remembering names in Jordan

  1. Pingback: Update! | In2Jordan

  2. Pingback: Meet the family | Carmen

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