Publication and Articles
Doing What Is Expected To Achieve EMV
December 06, 2022- Jordan News

The Economic Modernization Vision (EMV) 2033 came about through the wide consensus of over 500 experts, including active government ministers and public sector leaders. As such, only through the genuine cooperation of all Jordanians can it be implemented and achieve the expected outcomes.

 

EMV 2033 is not unique; there are similar projects around the region. It faces challenges similar to those of the Saudi 2030 and the Omani 2040 visions, and creates comparable opportunities. Yet, very few Jordanians believe that it will be implemented, according to a recent survey by NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions of a nationally representative sample of over 1,500 respondents, 150 journalists, and 151 private sector business owners.


To change, or at least improve that public perception, we, all Jordanians and institutions, have to look at the past 13 initiatives taken since 1990 and learn the lessons if the political, economic, and administrative reform plans that were produced in 2021-2022 are to succeed this time. 


Initial account points to the most important factor to achieve reform initiatives: “belief” in it. All public and private institutions, including the executive body entrusted with the implementation of the EMV, should “speak vision” and “act vision”. It is not enough to be a “lip-service” reformer; all ought to be transformative reformers, in discourse and deed. Such approach should run through the veins of bureaucracy to prevent discontinuity, strengthen institutionalization of the vision implementation, and build robust and adaptable monitoring, evaluation, and learning mechanism. 


The second most important thing is to ensure the government’s ability to secure and/or facilitate financial resources through investment and access to finance. The pathway to realize the EMV investments is through a solution-oriented mindset, with those entrusted with its implementation needing to show innovative imagination. This “process”, if and when developed consensually with competent rank and file, should produce the expected outcome because it should, not because it could come under some scrutiny.   


Lack of, or weak, belief in reform is the most important challenge, because the rest of the challenges either stem from it or will be exacerbated by it. Furthermore, a team committed to the vision should work to mitigate the challenges, rather than let unchecked and appeased bureaucracy overtake and cloud the vision.

Expectedly, some of the government representatives who participated in the 14 groups that produced the vision were rather edgy, defensive, and at times contended that they had it all figured out. For some of them, the exercise was seen as time that could have been spent more usefully elsewhere. They missed one point here. If they had it all figured out, the vision would not have been needed in the first place. They have become too comfortable, with no proper accountability when it comes to the challenges of the unemployed, and the weak economic and investment growth.


To its credit, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) has been leading the effort on behalf of the government. The government/MOPIC formed committees in the past few months for sectors, headed by secretaries general or equivalent, to draw plans for implementation. The challenge associated with these committees is mainly protracted bureaucratic inefficiency. Bureaucracy in the public sector is a heavy truck on a bad road. It is known for investing in inventing ways to come up with unnecessary delays, with the politics of doing things becoming more important than doing things.


In view of this, His Majesty King Abdullah said that the government must do what is expected, and not only what it expects will be inspected. That requires ensuring tech-enabled systematic implementation with talented, dedicated, problem-solving, exposed and solution-oriented individuals with positive attitude. We simply cannot afford to see EMV derail or fail.


The bottom line is that without government leaders who believe in and are committed to the implementation of the economic vision 2033, it can never succeed and we will be back here again in another two or three years, with even bigger economic problems to solve, and we will have a bigger problem attempting to change the disbelief in any public initiative. 



The writer is the Chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions, H.E Dr. Fares Braizat 


For the original news source, click here 

The Appeal Of Countries To Jordanians
November 27, 2022- Jordan News

In the context of the current overt global competition between China and the US for global dominance, it is interesting to gauge the extent to which they could be successful in winning hearts and minds globally, and particularly in the Middle East, where emotions often run high due to political reasons.


Policy makers, observers, and business people who have worked with both countries often wonder whether China will be as appealing to Jordanians as the US. Appeal is measured through many methods, including by asking people how they feel about a country, asking them to describe the level of political, economic, cultural, military and security relations between countries, and asking them to rank countries in terms of favorability. 


These are useful and important to know. However, what is more informative is to link perceptions of countries to the very essential needs for survival (beyond food and shelter), such as health care, education and professional training. If one trusts a county’s health care system, formation through education, and professional skills through which one makes a living, that country will surely be appealing. 


One might not like a certain policy of a country, as Jordanians disagree with the American policy on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, for example, but this position does not color their views about the system’s ability to do good in other fields.     


In a recent survey by NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions, we tried to address the issue of appeal by asking Jordanians to choose “one” of these countries: US, Egypt, Turkey, UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada, UAE, Russia, Qatar, Japan, or China for education abroad, professional training, healthcare, and vacation.

The results of the survey of 1,505 adult respondents who were interviewed face-to-face in October 2022 show that the US was the top choice for each of the first three activities, with 18.3 percent of Jordanians indicating the US as their desired destination for education, 18.9 percent for professional training, 33.2 percent for health treatment, and only 4.9 percent for vacation. 


China, the US’s rival, however, trailed the list of these countries and was chosen by 0.3 percent for education, 2.2 percent for professional training, 0.5 for healthcare treatment, and 0.1 for vacation. 


Egypt was perceived positively, especially for education, with 12.3 percent of Jordanians stating that they would travel to Egypt to acquire education, followed by Turkey at 11.8 percent. Turkey was especially desirable for vacation; 51 percent of Jordanians indicated that they would go to Turkey for vacation, followed by Saudi Arabia at 12 percent. Germany was especially attractive for health treatment (as the second choice after the US) to 11.4 percent of Jordanians, followed by Egypt and the UK, at 8 percent each. For professional training, the UAE ranked second (after the US), at 10 percent of Jordanians, followed by Saudi Arabia and Germany, at 8 percent each. 


In conclusion, Jordanians and probably others (to be tested) trust the American system for life essentials — health, education, and professional training ­— more than those of Germany, Britain, Canada, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey and China. 


The writer is the Chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions, H.E Dr. Fares Braizat 


For the original news source, click here

Tourism’s Change And Evolution
November 06, 2022- Jordan News

The contribution of international tourism to the total value of services and commodities of the Jordanian economy increased from an average of 26.1 percent in 2000-2005 to 41.8 percent in 2019. Although this growth is mirrored in other sectors, tourism remains the most promising in terms of growth and employment opportunities as it recovers steadily and the number of arrivals increases exponentially, nearing 2019 numbers.

 

For the sector to evolve, the current Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) strategy needs to continue to be implemented and to become part of the economic vision 2033. MoTA has been working on that and produced a significant road map with a specific array of ambitious, yet very reasonable, projects.


Carrying out these projects requires allocation from the public budget and private sector investment. While the government can allocate some of its resources from its capital expenditure, the private sector needs to be encouraged to step in to fill the vacuum. 


The operational national tourism strategy and the economic vision 2033 identified several intervention areas to enhance the contribution of the tourism sector to the economy and to create 99,000 economic opportunities in the sector by 2033. These opportunities can only be created by giving the private sector access to develop and operate tourist sites — much easier than it was given so far.

This could make not only the tourist sites, but the country as a whole ready to receive visitors. While some of the major sites are ready or almost ready, others with huge potential need major investments to rehabilitate and provide badly needed services. 


The 52 Islamic sites, shrines of prophets and of companions of the prophet, and the 34 locations mentioned in the Bible are in need of a proper makeover and specific targeted marketing. The public budget allocations will never be enough to make these locations visitor ready. 


A slow piecemeal approach to rehabilitation, due to lack of financial resources, will not deliver the expected targets. The country and its unemployed youth cannot afford to miss the opportunity to unleash the tourist potential of the country.  


Faith-based tourism is linked to spiritual and wellness tourism, which are associated to a global trend of meditation tourism. These components need investment to develop meditation sites and fixed regular programs throughout the year. Season-sensitive meditation programs are of great value to address conventional seasonality and fluctuations in the tourism industry.


All the above requires the county to be “proudly” visitor-ready. The level of cleanliness of roadsides leading to tourist sites leaves a lot to be desired. Frequent complaints from tourists are, first, related to cleanliness and, second, to advanced professional hospitality skills. Municipalities across the country must do more at any rate.


The evolution of the sector must be maintained and facilitated beyond the conventional understanding of its role and day-to-day business. To his credit, the current minister of tourism managed to secure relatively substantial financial resources to boost the sector, but a lot more is still needed for the sector to realize its potential and expectations set in the economic vision 2033. 


The writer is the Chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions, H.E Dr. Fares Braizat 


For the original news source, click here 


The Middle East Between US And China
October 30, 2022- Jordan News

In the October 2022 unclassified version of the Department of Defense (DoD) National Defense Strategy (NDS) (the previous one was published 2018), the DoD, while recognizing “the persistence of security threats” from Iran, North Korea, and terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and daesh, focuses on China and Russia. For the DoD, China constitute “a longer-term threat” and in order to face that threat, the Pentagon will continue to coordinate with the State Department to expand US access in the region, as the NDS stipulates.

 

Globally, China’s clout is spreading economically and diplomatically. Russia is an “acute” threat, but a declining power now struggling to find a dignified solution to the Ukraine mess. 


It is reported that for the first time, the number of Chinese embassies surpasses that of US embassies around the world: 280 Chinese foreign missions compared to 275 American. The US and allies, however, far outnumber China and (quasi) allies. EU member states have nearly 3,192 foreign missions. France comes third in the number of missions per state, followed by Turkey with 253, Japan 247, Russia 242, Germany 227, Brazil 222, Spain 215, Italy and the UK with 205 each. Simple math makes the DoD demand for Department of State diplomacy to expand access in the region more plausible.


While the US maintains diplomatic, military and economic supremacy in the Middle East, there are a few challenges to the way the US handles traditional