Planned Saudi investment in Jordan will provide jobs — Economists

1. Picture
His Majesty King Abdullah holds talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman during a visit to Jordan in June. (Photo: Royal Court)
AMMAN — Saudi plans to set up an investment firm in Jordan will jump-start the Kingdom’s economy following a severe blow caused by lockdowns under the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent Russian war in Ukraine, economists said.اضافة اعلان

Recently, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for establishing a public investment fund of five regional companies, which will see Saudi investments emerging in Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain, Oman, and Sudan.

Prince Mohammed, who is also Saudi Arabia’s prime minister, heads the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, and the Board of Directors of the Public Investment Fund.

The planned investments, with a target value of $24 million, follow the launch of the Saudi-Egyptian Investment Company in August.

The five firms to-be will invest in several strategic sectors including, infrastructure, real estate development, mining, healthcare, financial services, food and agriculture, manufacturing, and telecommunications and technology.

Jawad Al-Anani, a former Jordanian deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said Jordan and Saudi Arabia should meet to explore mutual interests ahead of setting up any investment. He also noted that Amman must present Riyadh with a proposal on potential lucrative investments in the Kingdom.

In an interview with Jordan News, he proposed launching a logistics hub in the southern Jordanian city of Maan, as a gathering point for goods bound for Saudi Arabia. The center can also be used for storage and cooling.

Anani also recommended organizing the commercial movement with other Gulf Arab states, and forming a transit area for goods destined for those countries. He said that the plan, if it gets off the ground, could create more than 6,000 jobs.

He said he believed that Saudi Arabia, a regional power broker, is working to strengthen its relations with neighboring countries to “acquire a kind of protection, especially since we are witnessing a change in its foreign policies”.

Economist Wajdi Al-Makhamreh told Jordan News that Saudi Arabia is leaning toward initiating an economic bloc in the Middle East “to achieve economic and political integration between the countries”.

He explained that after the rise in oil prices, liquidity became available for Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, “which made them move toward establishing more investment projects, and alliances with other Arabs, including Jordan”.

He pointed out that all future investments in Jordan should be geared towards the transport sector, the extraction of untapped minerals, and agriculture.

Makhamreh said Jordan must provide facilities to the investors, and implement accountability and transparency in its dealings. He called for appointing competent people to manage the hoped-for investments.

He asserted that Jordan must attract more investments to help make its 10-year Economic Modernization Vision a success.

Economist Mohammad Al-Basheer said that Jordan needs the Saudi investment, especially if these projects “are related to establishing a railway, improving infrastructure, in addition to agricultural projects”.

He told Jordan News that if these investments do not address the problem of the structure of the national economy, “it would be as if we had achieved nothing”.

Basheer explained that the methodology that drew Jordan in the last period as a service country was wrong, “given that Jordan today must develop, and be an industrial and agricultural country”.

As for the economist Mazen Irsheid, he emphasized that any foreign investment is important to Jordan, especially that in the past few years, “Jordan has been suffering from a decline in foreign investment”.

He noted that these investments will contribute to the employment of a large number of workers, thus alleviating the woes of unemployment, help raise the foreign currency reserves in the Central Bank of Jordan, strengthen the Jordanian Dinar, and stabilize the national monetary system.

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