Jordan in Numbers

In Jordan, hard facts are not commonly used, unfortunately. As I described at an earlier post, Jordan has a big social problem of bigotry and over-confidence is politics.  Many statements are given about the deteriorating status of living, which is true and sad in many cases, but are often expanded and generalized to say that nothing good has come out of the establishment. This is not true. Jordan has real problems: We have political problems, from the external climate of the Middle East, to internal marginalization. We have social problems, and problems in education, and problems in corruption, and a poor economic situation, etc. But things are getting better, and to say that the establishment has not done anything would be an injustice.

This is not to say that all is well: we are a long way to go, and we should obviously demand more from the establishment. We should also demand less marginalization, and to be included in the process. But to fool ourselves and say that we are living in a system where the Establishment is trying to keep is weak and poor would be an unjust, unfounded, and disheartening act.

This is a look at the last ten years King Abdullah II’s reign as the Kingdom’s head of state.

Can some of these developments be associated to the potential positive sum nature of the world, technology, etc.? Yes. But take a look at the data, collected from a number of sources, and decide for yourself if it shows the possibility of a benign, well-intentioned establishment.

Information is taken from the CIA Factbook (referenced CIA for short), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Ministry of Finance of Jordan (MOF). Currencies are either in dollar ($ / USD), or in Jordanian Dinars (JD / JOD), and are indicated.

Nor all numbers are necessarily useful; GDP for instance is often criticized for not being a good metric of a country’s economic situation. Keep this in mind while viewing.

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According to Abdullah II’s book, Jordan exports to the US shot up from “virually nothing to $18 million in 1998”. Under Abdullah’s negotiations, this number rose to $1 billion in 2009.

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Debt as a percentage of the GDP continues to drop. After it reached below 60% of the GDP around 2008, a new policy was adopted that indicated that public debt shall never go above 60%. Initial reports indicate that we are about to hit that mark now, a very concerning sign. But people forget we are in a global recession; things are indeed very concerning, but some people assume that the establishment has worsened our situation. Looking back at 2002, where public debts’ percentage of the GDP was in the high 90s, it puts things in perspective.

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Public and External debts in Jordan shown as an absolute number in JOD. These numbers are contemporary and not adjusted for inflation. As such, if adjusted for inflation, one would probably see a more level Public Debt graph up to 2011, and slowly declining external debts.

 

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Continue reading “Jordan in Numbers”

Dearest Jordan

Flag of Jordan

Photo  by Ibrahim Oweis (edited). Source. License: CC Att-SA 2.0

As the end of my extended winter vacation approaches, the stay back home has come to a (temporary) end. I’ll be on a 15 hour trip to get me to my “third home” in Boston, Massachusetts (we have always been taught “المدرسة بيتك الثاني”, meaning “school is your second home”) in anticipation of another lovely semester at MIT! Though it is probably juvenile to ‘say goodbye’ before spending a short time apart from home, I have garnered a few observations and articulated my timeless feelings and attitudes towards Jordan, and why such feelings and attitudes (positively) inhibit me to begin with. So here we go…

I live in a country whose borders were arbitrarily drawn by Gertrude Bell, so carelessly that a misalignment in transparent paper didn’t seem to bother her one bit. A country low on natural resources, that the late King Hussein’s quote “الإنسان أغلى ما نملك” (meaning “mankind is our greatest asset”) is used jokingly to reference the lack of oil, water, and arable land. A country with a nonexistent independent historic cultural identity, and a nascent national identity.

Yet, not an inch of Jordan exists that I cannot but absolutely adore. More importantly, however, are the people whose culture and identity astound me enough to understand this “haunting beauty” the late king refers to. This culture and identity whose presence I am in awe of, is the same one that began to formulate a mere 64 years ago. What I like about our magnificent ‘national identity’, that I’d rather call a cultural identity, is how it acknowledges and cherishes the fact that it is indeed nascent; an identity summed by the thought that we, “the Jordanian people”, whether Bedouins, old locals, Circassians, Chechens, Palestinian refugees, Iraqi refugees, and others have come together to build something good out of… well, not much. It is an identity of hospitality, generosity, but most importantly, fraternity and cooperation of people united by sharing a common vision of seeking improvement.

It is hard for many living in Jordan to appreciate or even realize the goodness I feel. Indeed, we have problems of our own; we are no beacon of human rights, social norms can be disappointing, and a real influential and internal political party is yet to be seen.

Criticizing the wrong we have in Jordan is the only way to improve; and writing about what is missing is the best way to inspire future leaders to step up and fix things, again, to do something good in an area that was previously lacking. My only message is that such criticism, however harsh it may be, remains to be done in a light where the criticizer realizes that things aren’t necessarily static, and change is very well possible.

It is the duty of a critical thinker to point what is wrong, but it gets to a point where criticism is done in an atmosphere of negativity, a negativity that might convince the thinker and the reader that an effort to improve isn’t worth it… and that’s when the thinker needs to stop and think things through.

I mean hey, we just fixed our tax laws! We’re working on great energy improvements. We’ve made great progress on economical reform. And human rights, like it or not, have improved drastically over the past 20 years. Change is being done, and that’s a positive thought one should keep in mind. Never mistake my sentences as trying to impose satisfaction on whatever we already have; I’d like to remind you that change has happened in the past, and it can happen in the present and future if we work for it. Some things are easier than others, but it’ll work.

/end emotional insights