A few days later we would cross the Gulf of Aqaba by ferry and enter Jordan. Travellers we met there who were in the Jordanian capital of Amman for the eclipse told us how they were the only ones on the streets—the local people were holed up indoors with their curtains drawn. One foreigner told us how a policeman yelled at him from behind a wall to get inside.
A commentary by a staff writer of Amman's English language weekly newspaper blamed the misinformation on "negative media coverage" and contradicting instructions from the Ministry of Health.
The writer complained that "the one-life experience was treated by our media and officials as a threatening phenomenon rather than something to enjoy with a bit of caution."
According to the article, leading up to the day of the eclipse Jordanian television instructed viewers not to watch the eclipse—not even on TV. Then the message changed—owing to a "typographical error"—and viewers were told to stay at home and only watch the eclipse on TV. They were instructed to close their windows and draw their curtains.
Meanwhile, newspaper reports quoting "specialists" advised those who would like to observe the eclipse to do so for not more than one minute. Later, this advice changed warning readers that if they watched the eclipse for that long they would go blind.
Next came an announcement from the government declaring the day of the eclipse a national holiday, advising people to remain at home and not go into the streets. Sirens would mark the beginning and end of the eclipse.
For all of this, 13 people were admitted to hospitals in Amman complaining of burning of the retina—a fact not mentioned in the commentary.
A blurb in Cairo's English language weekly carried the headline "Better safe than sorry". In Egypt too, people were warned not to go outside during the eclipse. Warnings were also given about using special glasses to look at the sky. But there were few if any such glasses to be found. (Throughout the developing world even welders don't have welders' masks.)
In the following week's paper it was reported that in the Nile town of Mansura, the keeper of a cemetery—upon his return from his indoor shelter during the eclipse—discovered the disappearance of a corpse. Following investigations a man was arrested and ordered to return the body to the grave. He'd taken advantage of the eclispe to steal the body for sale to medical students.