LONDON: Jordan has suffered from a public relations problem because of regional crises but remains a “beacon of light” in the region, the Kingdom’s prime minister Omar Al-Razzaz said on Thursday.
While the country has seen more than its fair share of turmoil over the past 10 years, it is very much open for business, with a lot to offer potential investors, he said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“People see the mess our region is in, and they have tended to shy away,” Al-Razzaz said. “But because we are not interested in polarization, we have become a stable model in a turbulent region.”
Jordan is keen to attract more investment to help pull itself out of an economic crisis. The country last year attempted to enact unpopular austerity measures to lower record public debt needed to get the economy back on track. Jordan has also suffered from hosting 1.4 million Syrian refugees since the war began in 2011.
Last year, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait pledged a $2.5 billion grant to Jordan after protests over economic hardship.
“We have a lot to offer investors,” Al-Razzaz said during the discussion with broadcaster CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “We have a comparative advantage in the Middle East in exporting services, particularly on a business level and in back-office services, with the added support of our well-educated bilingual workforce.
“We have a great pharmaceutical sector. We have a great cinema industry. IT is prime for us.”
“I would invite investors, industries and services to look at Jordan again. Come as tourists to Petra, enjoy the food and weather, and make up your mind on an investment level.”
The Jordanian PM says the country has done a lot of “fixing” of itself.
“We have started to get our house in order. We have had to move from a public toward a private sector model. And we have taken governance measures. We have disclosure policies about what public officials own. We have a stable macroeconomic environment. All of this allows us to have a different narrative about the future.”
The Jordanian PM wrapped up at the WEF by urging investors to look beyond the crises that have beset the region and look to Jordan as an oasis of potential investment.
“Jordan is a small country, but it has good infrastructure and an educated population. Businesses from all over the world come to Jordan.”