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ASEZ can still be the promised land for entrepreneurs

Abdullah Habahbeh
Abdullah Habahbeh is an aspiring Jordanian author, op-ed columnist, and content creator based in Aqaba, Jordan. His passion for writing started as a hobby and soon became a professional. Currently, he is a digital creator, copywriter and has successfully managed to self-publish his first short book in both Arabic and English. (Photo: Jordan News)
Since its inauguration in 2001, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) has laid the groundwork for a modernized and vibrant environment that would become an international business hub and a trade center. The objective was to have it serve as a gateway to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and beyond, embodying a true manifestation of the Royal Vision of a promised land for business owners and dreamers. اضافة اعلان

The volume of realized and committed investments has reached almost $20 billion as ASEZ has nearly accomplished its mandate to attract investments and investors. It managed successfully to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) and to build fruitful public-private partnerships (PPPs). However, there is still a gap in the market and room for development.


General view of Aqaba Bay. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Entrepreneurial practices are a vital component of a country’s economic growth; thus, according to the World Bank, “Jordan needs to carry out the reforms that would enable an investment-driven model of growth. This can be carried out by prioritizing investment and business environment reforms, promoting programs, and financing the sectors needed most for investment and job creation.” 

Fortunately, ASEZ possesses the ingredients for the perfect “entrepreneurial formula”, which can turn into a success story and an economic catalyst for the zone itself and for Jordan as a whole. These ingredients include the Special Economic Zone Law and an advanced infrastructure where to establish and operate businesses under an effective decentralized government model that stimulates investment. However, the lack of entrepreneurial awareness plays a crucial role in turning ASEZ into a forgotten promised land for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship in ASEZ does not go beyond the concept of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which generate a small income compared to entrepreneurial businesses that can grow and provide many job opportunities for the local communities. Moreover, the lack of unique legal contexts concerning the facilities that can be provided to startups and that can attract startups from the various governorates of the Kingdom to ASEZ affect the efforts made to start creating the right environment for entrepreneurship in the region. 

Therefore, at this critical stage, it is essential to reevaluate the laws and facilities granted investors in ASEZ if a suitable investment environment is to be created for entrepreneurs. Such environment could attract more local and regional investments and create real job opportunities. 

There is also need to spread awareness regarding the concept of entrepreneurial businesses.

ASEZ has three universities that supply the skills needed by the local labor market, and that can contribute to its economic revitalization. The human element is one of the most critical factors for the success of a business, and Jordan has always been proud of its human resources, with many Jordanians writing global success stories. 

A preparatory curriculum for entrepreneurship in universities is needed to qualify graduates to start their businesses and join the startups established in the zone, instead of them relying on job opportunities offered by the public and private sectors. Universities in ASEZ should also offer modern and technical disciplines compatible with the current stage and provide scientific and practical knowledge that offers opportunities to diversify educational outcomes in the region.

The modern Royal Vision for Aqaba emerged as a significant supporter of ASEZ, working to attract and promote more investments as well as to encourage local investors to make ASEZ a local and regional attraction.

ASEZ continues its efforts out of its aspiration to be a regional success story that everyone should be proud of and a part of. Therefore, the government, the private sectors, and entrepreneurs need to work together to succeed and help the social and economic growth of the country.
All entrepreneurs in Jordan to explore what ASEZ can offer and help pave the path to a digitalized ASEZ that can help turn the zone into an international hub for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Abdullah Habahbeh is an aspiring Jordanian author, op-ed columnist, and content creator based in Aqaba, Jordan. His passion for writing started as a hobby and soon became a professional. Currently, he is a digital creator, copywriter and has successfully managed to self-publish his first short book in both Arabic and English.

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