Randa Habib at the Jordan Times wrote an interesting op-ed recently about government spending on conferences hosted in Jordan. In it she argued that the government has enough financial troubles without having to cover the costs of these events.
Take for example the media conference that was held a few days ago in Amman. I was appalled to learn that the hotel bills and all the meals of the participants were covered by Jordan. Why should we burden ourselves with these expenses? Doesn’t the country have enough financial problems?
she went on to say how the money would have been better spent.
Why don’t the same companies sponsor, some meals for poor families during this Holy Month of Ramadan, instead of paying for rich media groups?
(in the fallacy world this is called an appeal to pity)
Arab hospitality does not apply here, and it is time that we start being practical. Charity begins at home
(and this is called a cliche) here’s another: it takes money to make money.
First off the ‘article’ is a bit confusing because she says "covered by Jordan" and the use of "ourselves" suggests the country (or government), but then she goes on to talk about Jordanian companies so the shift in meaning is uncertain. Though I am assuming she is talking about both the Jordanian Government spending on conferences as well as Jordanian companies.
The former is understandable and arguable though the latter is a bit silly because companies belong to a free market, if they wish to sponser events for their own benefit they are free to do so, if they want to feed the poor then they can do that to (a lot of them do that actually). The point is, it’s a free market and the Jordanian people have nothing to do with it in terms of holding them responsible. So I’ll talk about Government Spending since many if not most of these conferences are government funded.
When Jordan hosts a conference or even several conferences on the same day (as if time frame mattered) it does not do it out of "hospitality" it does it because it is the only way to get out there. "There" being the world stage. You cannot advertise without putting in some money for promotion and in most cases marketing does increase sales. What Jordan is doing is simply putting itself on the map and this doesn’t happen by saying "hey I know you don’t know who we are and I know we are currently practically irrlevent in this field, but we were thinking of putting on a conference so if you wouldn’t mind paying for your plane ticket, hotel room, food, transportation and services…"
The reason conference centers such as the King Hussein convention center in the dead sea or the intercon-aqaba 5 star conference halls were built by both the government and private sector alike were for the purpose of attracting the great minds and players of respective fields to come to Jordan and talk. Talk and present and think and share ideas and philosophies and make connections, build bridges, sign agreements and fund trade.
If my tax money is going towards putting Bill Gates in a 5-star hotel room just to get him to Jordan, I wouldn’t mind, because for once we’d be doing something useful with the money. When you have a conference like the World Economic Forum being held in Jordan for example, hosting essentially hundreds of experts, leaders and CEO’s, I don’t mind. Because at the end of the day you do get millions and millions of dollars worth of trade deals and pacts in the span of 3 days. You are paying for access. Media Conferences, Rebuilding Iraq, the World Economic Forum; all of these are essential to Jordan so I don’t mind covering the bill on a steak dinner if it means bringing these people into an unknown player in the region, the result of which is a gain, beit monetary or knowledge, both are essential to building the infrustructure of all sectors in our country, whether local businesses or even professionals in the media industry. If Mohammad won’t come to the mountains then the mountains will come to Mohammad.
What Jordan is doing is putting it’s name on the map by bringing these people in; paid for public relations. At the same time these conferences bring money into the country one way or another. Maybe with that money we can fund the business sector Maybe with a bigger business sector we’ll have more jobs Maybe with more jobs we can help cure unemployment Maybe with more people employed we’ll have more people putting food on their table and less being asked to have it put there by the government. Charitable works are always done during Ramadan irregardless of conferences or whatever else government spending goes towards. It is not the government’s job nor its responsibility to go door to door and put food on people’s plates every night. It is their duty to create a working environment in which people can earn for themselves and feed themselves. for the sake of burnt out cliches: give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life (unless he eventually finds a life of cannibalism to be a lot easier)