UK to double support for Jordan over next five years

Jordan's King Abdullah speaks at the Jordan Growth and Opportunity Conference on February 28, 2019 in London.
Updated 09 March 2019

UK to double support for Jordan over next five years

  • In an interview with Arab News, UK Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt says Jordan is meeting economic challenges
  • Finance pledges ‘can provide more’ for education and employment for the people of Jordan

LONDON: Britain on Thursday doubled its bilateral support funding to Jordan, pledging £650 million ($860 million) over five years.

The UK government hosted a ministerial conference to promote growth and investment opportunities in Jordan, inviting a host of senior financial representatives, non-profit organizations and several business and economic delegations from around the world.

The conference fulfills a pledge by Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017 to encourage the partnership between the United Kingdom and Jordan, according to the UK Minister of State for the Middle East.

“This has been a really good conference and we are very pleased to hold it here because London is a great place to bring people together. We’ve had very high level representation, senior foreign ministers, from not only the region but all over the world,” Alistair Burt told Arab News.

Among the attendees were King Abdullah II, May and her Jordanian counterpart Omar Razzaz.

Over the next five years the UK’s bilateral support to Jordan includes a new £50 million contribution to the World Bank’s Global Concessional Financing Facility, the UK’s Department for International Development said. 

This will include grant-financing to enable Jordan to undertake key economic reforms and will go toward a youth, technology and jobs program with a focus on jobs and business opportunities for Syrian refugees.

It will also include a £14 million contribution to a new World Bank led trust fund for Jordan aimed at modernizing government systems, promoting exports and making doing business easier.

In addition, the UK will underwrite a $250 million World Bank loan to Jordan. 

Over the last five years, the UK’s support was around £300 million to Jordan.

“The conference was designed to showcase how Jordan can demonstrate how its meeting its economic challenges, the reforms it was putting in place, and what it offered to private investors, as well as people who wanted to take part in infrastructure projects and we think it’s fulfilling all those objectives,” Burt said.

“We had the chief executive of Jaguar and Land Rover, a major world company, saying we are investing in Jordan. 

“And of course business talks to business, a minister telling businesses to invest might not have consequences, but it’s different if a business is saying we can invest here, and we can provide more for the people of Jordan both in education terms and employment terms.”

Burt also discussed some of the key issues effecting the region and relations with Saudi Arabia.

Asked whether the British government was lobbying Germany to reverse an arms embargo that was placed on Saudi Arabia, Burt said his colleagues are talking to their German counterparts about the issue and that the UK recognizes its strategic defensive relationship with the Kingdom.

“This means that we continue to support our partner and there are some impacts of the German situation,” Burt said.

“We are extremely conscious of the impact of a decision by a sovereign country and a partner country and relations to the arms embargo, we take a different view of course, we have very strict export controls.”

He said Saudi Arabia had been generous in its support for Jordan and the humanitarian needs in Yemen. 

The minister said he visited Riyadh a couple of weeks ago and again the importance of that relation was evidently clear. 

Asked whether the British government was concerned over the aspects of the Trump administration’s deferred Middle East peace plan, Burt said: “At first, like everyone else, we need to see what the plan actually is.

“The United Kingdom is certainly in no better position than anyone else to know any of the details. We have expressed our concern about unilateral decisions taken by the United States in relation to Jerusalem and refugees and we have made it very clear this is not our position.

“We remain of the view that the Middle East peace process is fundamental to world politics.”

Regarding the issue of Shamima Begum, the teenager who fled the UK to join Daesh, and is now in a refugee camp in Syria, Burt said the legal position of her situation will be resolved in due course.

“There is very strong feeling in the United Kingdom in relation to what she has done,” he said.

Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

Updated 1 min 5 sec ago

Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

  • The rocket hit Burjeisa residential and operations headquarters west of Basra
  • Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile

BASRA: A rocket landed at the headquarters for several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding two Iraqi workers, police said.

The rocket hit the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of the city, they said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A security source said Exxon was preparing to evacuate some 20 foreign staff immediately.

Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italian Eni SpA, oil officials said.

Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile that landed 100 meters from the section of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon.

Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni.

Exxon evacuated staff last month after the United States cited unspecified threats from Iran for a decision to take hundreds of diplomatic staff out of Iraq.

Exxon had begun returning staff to Iraq, however, before Wednesday’s incident.