The Jordanian Wasta

Wasta – Nepotism, friends in high places

I want to talk about waste because it’s something new to me and something that really pisses me off. If you’re Jordanian you can’t get by in life without wastas to get you a job or a good deal or facilitate, well, anything really. It’s a kind of corruption that’s been normalised and whilst people think it’s kind of comical, I think it’s really disruptive to people’s faith in the country.

My husband has been receiving really great job offers for lecturing positions and professorships – he’s a real catch, and I’m not saying that from bias. He really is the bees knees. But he has a problem in finding appropriate or hefty enough wastas.   (oh god, every time I look Mac has autocorrected me to wastes. Back off, Mac, or do I need a wasta to explain it to you?).

That means that he’s received several glowing job offers, as long as you can find someone in a high place, preferably who knows the Dean personally, to convince us you’re connected enough. That’s essentially what he’s been being told. It’s not like he’s not connected, but it’s still demoralising to run in these ridiculous and unethical circles.

I’m not being totally naive here, I understand the importance of references, and I know that it happens in elitist universities or workplaces all over the world, but it’s been institutionalised here.

Whilst networking comes easily to most people due to the strong sense of community here, it creates an unfair advantage against people of smaller or lesser known families, or for non-Jordanian Arabs looking for work.

For instance, this article begins with

‘Luma, a 29-year-old college graduate, believes if she had wasta, or connections, she would not have been waiting for six years to get a government job’

That was written four years ago but I’m not sure anything’s changed. Will we be waiting four more years before we can take the next step in life due to some arbitrary hoops he has to jump through?

Is there anyone else that has encountered the need for a wasta? It certainly enriches job-hunting stories…
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4 thoughts on “The Jordanian Wasta

  1. While it is certainly a far cry from a nationwide, institutionalized system, we have seen how the underachieving children of rich daddies somehow get the juiciest job offers after college! It is almost comical … unless you’re a top student who can’t get in the door at some of the top companies because all the spots are going to the partying airheads who have connections!

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    1. It’s SO frustrating! My Uni actually gave me a grant for being poor – education for the masses, or something distasteful like that – but they just took that funding away. Life is so bleak for students, it’s so backwards.

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  2. I could have a long long chat with you about this over coffee!!!

    But the truth is, “wasta” is as common and necessary in the West as it is here. I mean how many people in Europe/North America actually get a job through blind CV applications versus through knowing someone!??!!?!

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    1. Oh dear! It’s funny but I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about the whole wasta issue lately. And you’re very right about the blind CV thing, I don’t know why I feel like it’s so much worse here though?! Are you living in Jo?

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