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August 13 2022 2:37 AM ˚
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A book timelier than ever

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(Photo:Jordanian Political Economy: Building Amidst Crises)
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Khalid Dalal

The writer is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for media, strategic communication, PR, international cooperation, and business development locally, regionally and globally.

Jafar Hassan’s book “Jordanian Political Economy: Building Amidst Crises” should be a must-read not only for decision-making politicians and economists, but also for ordinary citizens.اضافة اعلان

Published in Arabic in 2020, the book’s author, currently the director of the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and a former deputy prime minister and planning minister, stands out as an authority on the topic, combining his practical experience as a key player in Jordan’s political and economic landscape for decades, with that of an academic specialized in political economy and public administration.

Hassan writes with impartiality, with the voice of a Harvard scholar. He does not seek to justify, but rather to objectively explain the rationale for the economic decisions taken at different turns of the country’s history.

The book is as timely now as it was when it first came out, two years ago. The author predicted tough times in the post-COVID-19 era. They are, and have been exacerbated by the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the food and energy supply crisis that has hit the world hard.

For Hassan, self-reliance is not just an option under the circumstances, it is the only option. In fact, Jordan was inching towards self-reliance in the first decade of the reign of King Abdullah (1999–2009) as the country started shifting the paradigm from seeking assistance to promoting investments, and it worked to a very good degree as GDP grew up to 8 percent.

The same decade witnessed a major milestone, i.e., the signing of the free trade agreement with the US. The outcome of the new approach started to take shape: foreign investors flocked, indebtedness and unemployment went down and good money was spent on socio-economic transformation projects.

Jordan also graduated from its economic correction program overseen by the International Monetary Fund in 2004, and the per capita GDP skyrocketed by 153 percent in 2010, compared to the year 2000, jumping from JD1,224 to JD3,100. Exports rose by 200 percent, achieving an annual growth rate of 22 percent.

In other words, the economy’s performance was doing fine, even though below expectations, before Jordan was hit, like the rest of the world, by the global economic crisis toward the end of that decade.
… self-reliance is not just an option under the circumstances, it is the only option.
But the real challenge in the following decade came with the so-called Arab Spring, when Jordan was literally choked, trade-wise, due to the bloody events in Syria, the chaos following the revolution, and counter revolution in Egypt, which led to disruptions in the cheap gas supplies from this Arab country and forced Jordan to replace a cheap source of energy with the costly heavy fuel to run power-generating plants.

The book is undeniably worth reading; maybe there should be a second part in a decade or so.

It is a good addition to the national library, and most importantly, a reference to understand what it means to look transparently at Jordan’s political economic perspective.

A tip the book offers to policy makers, and that I liked, is to focus on long-term strategic goals that deserve adequate attention, although it is understandable that state executives in any given country need to deal with daily issues and extinguish seemingly non-stop fires.

That is a real challenge many officials in our country need to bear in mind while serving the nation.


Khalid Dalal is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah II, and works currently as a senior advisor for media, strategic communication, PR, international cooperation, and business development locally, regionally and globally. [email protected]


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