Of all the things Jordanians tend to talk about, it is simply interesting to see the global financial crisis rank first in coffee-house conversations. Some are arguing that this is the “end of America”, while others are looking at it from a more personal perspective: how will something that is so global affect Jordanians? Will banks hold back on loans? Will the Dinar continue to sink to the pegged-anchor that is the American dollar? Will the crisis induce prolonged inflation? Will purchasing power take a plunge?
One of the very important questions that seems to come up is the future of the country’s development, much of which is based on its ability to attract money from the Gulf. In these dire financial times, the variables only seem to beg the question of whether this flow of investment will be hindered. In other words, will we see a trend of Gulf investments flowing out of Jordan and heading across the pond to the US and UK markets, to buy up cheaper real estate and stocks? The markets seem too unstable to tell right now and wealthy Gulf investors will either be very cautious or very adventurous when it comes to this window of opportunity, as some are labeling it. In other words, a crisis that is going to affect pretty much everyone in the world who is alive and breathing, is yet another opportunity for the rich to grow richer and the poor to grow poorer, and the people in between to fall between the ever-growing cracks.
More or less, the conversation in Jordan seems to be driven back to that debate of how sustainable this economy is with its growing reliance on Gulf-driven development projects. It’s funny how Jordanians tend to be very tangible when it comes to this debate; they want to see the end-game, the final result of such projects. It seems hundreds of them are announced but few of them unfold, or so the general perception holds and that is typically the argument for the opposition. All of these projects do take a lot of time and the fact that their source of funding comes from the Gulf does not mean they’ll be constructed at the same pace of Gulf-based construction.
Nevertheless, rumors are beginning to surface in many of these conversations that involve the selling of these “under construction” assets. Recently, I’ve heard at least half a dozen conversation regarding the selling of the Jordan Gates even before its completion, and at least another dozen regarding various other projects that range between the Abdali site to the array of suburban residential cities.
It’s funny how the economic debate has shifted from the controversial selling of government land, to whether Jordan is becoming a type of cash-and-carry laundromat for Gulf investors: an empty slate for them to invest a decent amount in building something grand, and then selling it off to the highest bidder.
I have to admit, I don’t have any of the answers and I doubt anyone at this time does. The waters are simply too murky to accurately tell what’s going on, so I’d be weary of anyone who does pretend to be in the know. But as usual, I’m more interested in the social debate itself. That being said, it’s usually in this murkiness that the things we don’t want to happen, happen. It’s only when the waters clear that we’re able to look back and see what actually happened in the chaos.
Hindsight is always 20/20