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October 24 2021 5:14 AM ˚

Attracting investment: A top national priority

2. Khalid Dalal
Khalid Dalal (Photo: Jordan News)
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His Majesty King Abdullah’s recent visit to the Abdali project and meeting with an array of local and Arab investors gives the unmistakable indication that attracting investments to the country is a strategic option, now more than ever, as Jordan is recovering from COVID-19 and the economy has been struggling with formidable challenges, even before the pandemic hit.اضافة اعلان

Abdali is considered a success story despite the hurdles the urban regeneration project has faced. The $2.5 billion invested so far, has changed the face of the capital’s old downtown, where sustainable urban design principles were applied and the needs of the city’s community in the 21st century were met.

His Majesty King Abdullah’s recent visit to the Abdali project sends the “unmistakable indication that attracting investments to the country is a strategic option” more than ever, writes Jordan News columnist Khalid Dalal. (Photo: Royal Court)

During the visit, King Abdullah “highlighted the need to capitalize on the success of the Abdali project, noting the importance of promoting various local and foreign investments to create further employment opportunities.” Yes. Job creation is a main concern of our nation as the unemployment rate has hit 25 percent, according to government figures.

Another significant point raised by His Majesty, during the visit, is the need for “cooperation and coordination between the public and private sectors to facilitate and bolster investments.” This is particularly important as it carries a message, mainly addressed to the government, to fully implement a plan to unify all investment-related laws and regulations under one umbrella. 

As a reminder, senior officials have recently announced that work is underway to merge 44 laws, 1,000 bylaws, and 800 sets of regulations, involving 52 ministries and other public agencies concerned with the investment environment.

As we have stressed again and again, time is a decisive element in this process and the public needs to know how far this crucial plan has progressed towards a once-and-for-all piece of investment legislation that puts the minds of investors at ease. The clock is ticking and competition for foreign direct investment is fierce in the region.

It is apparent that the King is taking the matter into his own hands, as the Abdali meeting suggests, and that is a very wise move, due to the prominence factor and the messages it sends to the target audience.

Jordan can easily be promoted as an attractive investment destination, simply because of the huge potential and the wide range of opportunities available. The energy, transport, infrastructure, logistics, and tourism sectors are all highly inviting and lucrative. Perhaps we also need to focus on sectors that boomed during the pandemic and remain promising such as e-commerce, artificial intelligence, food security, pharmaceuticals, and others. 

What we need is an aggressive PR campaign that mobilizes the media, our diplomatic missions abroad, and every other tool available to put those sectors on the radar of international companies and businesspeople, building on Jordan’s image as a peaceful, safe, and ambitious country that always aims for a win-win for all.

We also have to work on the mentality of officials working in the investment field and have direct contact with would-be investors. Public-private partnership should be translated into a positive reality felt by these investors. We cannot tolerate any misbehavior that pushes businessmen away. These guests have so many alternatives, but we have no other option than to make them feel at home when they show interest in investing their money in our country. 

A good lesson from the Abdali project is that each area and sector in the country has its own investment advantages, such as renewable energy in the southern region and tourism in the north. Therefore, we need to revisit the Kingdom’s investment map and have it ready and convincing.

Attracting investment is a top national interest, and we all need to act to push that interest forward. That’s a national duty.

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