Babylon & Beyond

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JORDAN: Country for sale?

April 15, 2008 |  7:51 am


Some Jordanians are steaming mad over plans to sell off huge swaths of the country to private investors abroad.

On Sunday the Jordanian government announced plans to sell its Red Sea port of Aqaba to a group of United Arab Emirates investors for $5 billion. The government is also selling the King Hussein Hospital and its surrounding properties for $2 billion to the Emirates. The capital of Amman also plans to sell a large piece of property in the heart of the city to a Lebanese bigwig for $1.5 billion.

The government says it's trimming down in an era of smaller government. But critics say these deals lack transparency and that the government is raking in dough it will never share with ordinary Jordanians, who are feeling the crush of rising fuel and food costs.

Making matters worse, the property sell-offs are to foreigners (albeit fellow Arabs). 

Zaki Bani Rsheid, the outspoken leader of the opposition Islamic Action Front, said an earful about the situation to AFP:

These projects are not designed to benefit the poor, but only wealthy and influential Jordanians, People's patience has limits, and I think that in the coming days there will be an explosion, a very big explosion, and nobody can predict its repercussions and/or results.

Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: The Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba. Credit: Wikimedia Commons