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August 16 2022 12:46 AM ˚
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Jordan’s orange economy

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(Photo: Envato Elements)
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cinema

Yusuf Mansur

The writer is CEO of the Envision Consulting Group and former minister of state for economic affairs.

The Jordanian economy has long suffered from jobless growth rates, where the economy grows while high unemployment rates are hardly ever affected. More absurdly, in certain years, the economy grew and with it the unemployment rate. Furthermore, the high unemployment rates among women and youth have placed these two significant groups among the most economically vulnerable in Jordan. اضافة اعلان

One solution may lie in the promotion and development of the orange economy in Jordan. The term is used interchangeably with cultural industries, leisure industries, entertainment industries, cultural economy, and creative economy.

According to UNESCO, creative economy includes 18 sectors: advertising, books, newspapers, visual arts, film, magazines, architecture, gaming, music, radio, TV, dance, crafts, fashion, cultural tourism, design, software, and photography. A distinguishing feature of these sectors is that their products rely on talent, creativity, and intellectual assets as key inputs. Globally, these industries contribute about 30 million jobs, with visual arts being top employer, followed by music and books.

In the Middle East and Africa, creative industries employ about 2.4 million people. Statistical research reveals that the lower the income of the country the more youth and women are involved in creative industries. Hence, in countries, such as Jordan, where there are high unemployment rates among women and youths, the orange economy would be a viable driver for additional jobs, better paying jobs, and more sustainable jobs.

According to the recent World Bank study “Orange Economy: As a Driver of Jobs for Youth”, in order for a country to develop its creative industries, it has to have many interventions in several areas: nurture human capital; provide access to finance; expand access to markets; harness digital technology; and build networks and clusters. Under each of these categories there is a set of specific interventions. For example, regarding provision of access to finance, the following is entailed: provision of grants, early-stage loan/venture capital fund, microloans, guarantees, crowd funding, and tax subsidies.

One nascent component of the creative economy that has shown real promise in Jordan so far is the film industry. In addition to several globally successful movies being shot in Jordan (which also provided Jordan with millions of dollars in free advertising), there are many Jordanian films that were recently produced, directed and shot in the country that have gained fame and accolade, to Jordan as well, in international film festivals and ceremonies.

However, many facets of the film industry require support if this industry is to become globally competitive and a major source of employment and revenue generation in Jordan.
… in order for a country to develop its creative industries, it has to have many interventions in several areas: nurture human capital; provide access to finance; expand access to markets; harness digital technology; and build networks and clusters.
A foremost component of this support is financing. While a film may receive some financial support from the Royal Film Commission, it is difficult for producers to secure financing from a private bank. Moreover, because of the movie admission ticket price, attendance at movie theatres in Jordan is dismal. The price of an admission ticket to a movie theater in Jordan (around $10 per ticket) is extremely high relative to income. It is equivalent to $214 per ticket in the US; were this the case in the US, no one would go to watch a movie in a movie theatre.

Also, the price of a ticket is almost identical at all movie theatres, which prevents price competition. But these are only two challenges the sector faces; others include training of lawyers on contracts for films, and completing the infrastructure for film production.

Moreover, the film industry is facing increasing competition from the Gulf economies, which, being flush with cash, can provide many more incentives to foreign and domestic film productions there. Therefore, Jordan should strategize and move with a valid and applicable intent to grow this and other sectors in the creative economy.

Other sectors of the orange economy need a significant amount of support as well if we are to address unemployment among women and youth.

Jordan enjoyed periods of unprecedented growth in the past that did not decrease unemployment in a sustainable manner. The orange economy can be a vehicle for better paying and more sustainable jobs.


Yusuf Mansur is CEO of the Envision Consulting Group and former minister of state for economic affairs.


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