THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA

Jordan 2019 | DIPLOMACY | INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

Under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, Jordan has stood strong in the face of regional and global challenges. With a forward-looking strategy, the country refocuses on its competitive advantages, chief among them its geostrategic position and high-value human capital.

HM King Abdullah II
BIOGRAPHY
His Majesty King Abdullah II ascended the throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on February 7, 1999. HM King Abdullah II is a 41st generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him. The eldest son of King Hussein Bin Talal and Princess Muna Al Hussein, His Majesty was born in Amman on January 30, 1962. His Majesty received his elementary education at the Islamic Educational College in Amman, enrolling in 1966, and then attended Saint Edmund’s School in Surrey, Britain, before attending Eaglebrook School and Deerfield Academy in the United States to complete secondary education. His Majesty is the author of Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril, which recounts major events and milestones and details Jordan’s vision for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The world understands the importance of a strong and prosperous Jordan. And I would particularly like to thank my fellow Jordanians. It is solely because of their resilience and capability that our country has been able to stand strong in the face of external storms. That same resilience and capability is the source of the opportunities that lie ahead. Young Jordanians, especially, have a leading role.
We are focusing in detail on Jordan's economic opportunities. So, let me say just a few words about the importance of this work.

There is no question that the past years have been exceptionally challenging. Jordan's commitment to reform was showing success when we, like many others, were hit by the global financial crisis and multiple shocks to global energy prices and sources. Regional turmoil then disrupted key trade routes and energy flows. And our situation worsened with the Syrian refugee crisis—a global burden that global assistance has not adequately shared, despite some of the very committed international partners that we have.

Yet throughout these challenges, Jordan remained secure, strong, and a centerpiece for the values that our world depends on—mutual respect, moderation, steady determination, and the dignity of all. We have held out our hands in compassion to desperate refugees, as we have always done. And we have taken difficult, responsible action to tackle the tremendous economic and budgetary strains. But slow growth cannot take us to the future that we know is possible. It cannot give us the jobs and better lives that my people expect and deserve, especially after so much sacrifice. And supporting our people supports Jordan's positive international role as a durable force for peace, for interfaith harmony, and for positive development in the region and in the world.

So, Jordan took a good hard look at its economic agenda, and the result is clear—we need to strategically refocus on our competitive advantages. In the spotlight, first and foremost, is our powerhouse of talented, aspiring young people. Second is our central geostrategic position, connecting continents and markets. And third is Jordan's respected international role, which stands behind our established trade relationships and numerous free trade agreements.
As you will hear today, our economic strategy prioritizes service sectors that benefit directly from Jordan's high-value human capital. Now these sectors are ripe for growth, provide the better-paying jobs that can meet the pressing needs of Jordanians, and take advantage of our many trade agreements, which give Jordan-based businesses access to 1 billion customers around the world. We are also aggressively shifting toward green energy by leveraging Jordan's advantages in solar and wind. By 2020, we expect one-fifth of our energy will be generated through renewables. All of this boosts economic activity and jobs.
Our country has already embarked on more reforms to foster a healthy business climate. And we are actively working with the international community to ensure the fiscal space that is needed for economic growth. Access to concessional financing is essential.

Now our strategy covers five years to permit predictability and sustainability. But we are not waiting for events to unroll by themselves. We have several ready-to-invest opportunities streamed by our Project Pipeline, a Jordan-led effort in partnership with the IFC to develop bankable opportunities with the legal and financial structuring that investors expect.
This is just the beginning of a new program of transformative economic growth for Jordan, and the benefits of supporting this process run deep. When global economic players support people who are doing the right thing, when you grow opportunity, when you respect the hopes of a new generation, and when you help youth shape a positive future, you build a platform for a healthy, stable, and ethical global economy on which everyone's future depends.

I am speaking as an advocate for Jordan. In the last 20 years, no one has seen more of my people's strength and resilience. No one has listened harder to our families and seen their steadfast labor, generosity, and determination. No one has flown over more of our amazing landscape or seen more of its diversity up close.

I have watched our cities begin the vital work of renewal, with brilliant urban regeneration projects like Abdali in Amman. I have seen solar power and wind farms open the door to green energy solutions. And I have been to our five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beacons of regional and global tourism. I have seen our fertile green farms and our blue-water seaport. And I have met with thousands of young Jordanians at work for our future—bilingual computer programmers who have led the region in communications and Arabic internet content; young businesswomen and businessmen building domestic, regional, and global markets; young scientists leading the way at the Middle East's first particle accelerator; and many other young leaders and innovators. They are ready for new opportunities.

The fact is if you have not been to Jordan recently, you have not been in Jordan. I want to invite all of you to visit and join us in an exciting future.

Economic leadership is by definition forward-looking. And forward-looking engagement will send a powerful message, a message of hope for my people and for yours.