Jordan parliamentary elections due for Nov. 10

A Jordanian woman casts her ballot at a polling station for local and municipal elections in Amman, Jordan. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 29 July 2020

Jordan parliamentary elections due for Nov. 10

  • Jordan parliamentary elections will likely take place on Nov. 10

AMMAN: Jordan is moving to hold elections for the House of Representatives, according to a Royal Court statement issued on Wednesday.

Ali Khawaldeh, director-general of the Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, told Arab News the elections will likely take place on Nov. 10. The Independent Election Commission is expected to recommend a date for the elections in the coming days.

Amer Bani Amer, director-general of Rased, a Jordanian NGO that monitors elections and government activities, told Arab News the current political atmosphere is ripe for a different kind of parliament.

“The robust governmental anti-corruption activities, as well as effective anti-COVID-19 policies, mean that Jordanians are likely to elect a different kind of parliament,” he said.

Amer said the effectiveness and success of a younger parliament will encourage the majority of Jordanians, who are young, to vote for younger candidates.

Samar Muhareb, CEO of the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development Society, told Arab News that events in Jordan make her pessimistic about the state of democracy in the country.

“Democracy is not only elections, it is the rule of law, freedom of expression and assembly, separation of powers, and an independent judiciary and robust civil society. The crackdown on the teachers’ union, and the absence of freedom of unions and expression doesn’t bode well for democratic change,” Muhareb said.

She expressed concern that money will continue to play a role in elections, with the wealthy entering parliament regardless of their abilities. Muhareb added that the role of civil society in Jordan needs to be evaluated.

“They make a cosmetic intervention at the time of elections without real involvement in building a democratic and inclusive society that is ready to make real change,” she said.

Rami Adwan, who promotes political participation among women and youth, told Arab News that many young political activists think the space for civil society is narrowing.

“At present I am not optimistic that elections could produce a different parliament unless the youth realize that they must act to change those who will be in charge of setting their future,” he said.

Musa Shteiwi, a professor of sociology at Jordan University, told Arab News that the decision to hold elections on time is important.

“The decision of His Majesty to hold elections on time sends a positive message internally and externally that Jordan is stable,” he said. He added that despite the Independent Election Commission restoring trust to the electoral process, Jordan’s weak party system means a strong parliament is unlikely.

Layla Nafaa, a veteran women’s rights activist, told Arab News that efforts to increase the women’s quota from 12 to 17 percent have failed.

“Our only hope for more women in parliament now is for more women to run for office and for women and men to be more involved in the electoral process and choose women, rather than follow tradition and other reasons to choose men,” she said.


Dubai introduces facial recognition on public transport

Updated 25 October 2020

Dubai introduces facial recognition on public transport

  • ‘This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people’
  • Dubai has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence

DUBAI: Dubai is introducing a facial recognition system on public transport to beef up security, officials said Sunday, as the emirate prepares to host the global Expo exhibition.
“This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people,” said Obaid Al-Hathboor, director of Dubai’s Transport Security Department.
The emirate already operates a biometric system using facial recognition at its international airport.
Dubai, which sees itself as a leading “smart city” in the Middle East, has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence.
Both sectors will be on show when it opens the multi-billion-dollar Expo fair.
“We aspire to raise our performance by building on our current capabilities, to ensure a high level of security in metro stations and other transport sectors,” said Hathboor.
Earlier this week, under the watch of Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the city’s police used facial recognition in a simulated scenario to identify gunmen launching an attack on a metro station.
A special police unit, trained in the United States, helped “evacuate” commuters from the station in the mock attack, before working in tandem with a control center to apprehend the suspects.
Members of the special unit will be sent to major metro stations during Expo 2020.
The six-month event was delayed by one year due to coronavirus, and is now set to open in October 2021.
It was expected to attract 15 million visitors before the global economy and transport systems were disrupted by the pandemic.
Jamal Rashed, of Dubai Police’s Transport Security Department, said the facial recognition technology will be rolled out in the coming months in all metro stations.
Other technology already in use to combat the spread of the coronavirus, such as helmets with thermal cameras and smart glasses, will also be used to identify and manage large crowds.
“It took at least five hours to identify a suspect before,” said Rashed. “With this technology, it takes less than a minute.”
But while the technology to identify individuals has simplified lives, such as being used for unlocking phones, it has also raised concerns over privacy.
Berlin-based advocacy group AlgorithmWatch says that at least 10 European police forces use facial recognition technology — a trend that privacy and rights groups are concerned about.
China has also been criticized for the facial recognition systems in its public surveillance network.