How About A Moratorium On All These Royal Initiatives?

Somewhere in the depths of the Royal Hashemite Court and perhaps even the King and Queen’s respective offices, there are people who dream up wonderful initiatives. From education to dialog to just a whole bunch of other great initiatives that span the spectrum of issues. They are all well-branded and well-publicized and it’s hard to live in this country without knowing about them. From press releases and articles (in these cases they’re usually the same thing), to billboards and God knows what, if you are alive in anyway, you probably know them all.

And while the King and Queen have their names stamped on initiatives, such measures are complemented with royal patronage – something which comes with a nice golden crown on top of an event name, and is given out (arbitrarily) like candy. If we’re being honest with ourselves, most of these initiatives fall short of their success rates, or at least lose their initial hype, and most of the patronages are undeserving.

Both measures are designed primarily to enhance the profile of the King, Queen or the Crown in general. They are, for this new era, the main marketing tool. This is not to say the intentions of such initiatives are sinister, but rather that they are designed by people who are more concerned with how their bosses look instead of what’s being done. Style over substance.

The issues being tackled are very serious so it’s difficult to criticize them.

In many of these cases, the King and Queen are rarely ever involved, but in some cases, they are the center square. In the past year for example, the Queen has been involved in the Madrasati campaign, in an attempt to reform school infrastructure, as well as developing a YouTube channel to try and engage in some cross-cultural dialog (which won her an award), and the latest Ahel Al Himmeh award that looks to give grants for local champions of causes.

In the wide-spectrum of things, some of these initiatives are good, some not so much, and some have sustainability issues. The latter problem is what you tend to get when you design an initiative that is, once again, based on style as opposed to substance. The short-run hype only lasts for so long and like any good seasonal marketing campaign, that’s what it’s designed to do.

But overall, adding up all the initiatives and all the events given patronage, suffice to say, the King and Queen are rarely involved, but their names or the name of the Crown is invoked with that nice big golden crown on top. I should note, my style-over-substance argument is just an opinion based on observation. I’m sure if we conducted a study we’d find many of these initiatives to be a fading and forgotten memory, and many of the events blessed with patronage are truly undeserving.

And while I think the argument still stands, my concern here has less to do with style than outcome. The outcome of all of this is the fueling of this ever-increasing culture of dependency on royal patronage.

If something doesn’t have the seal of approval from the Royal Court, then it’s not a worthy cause. So we end up sticking the King and Queen’s name on pretty much anything, and you’ll never see a reaction to any of these initiatives or events unless those names are there. Because in the end, these things are given a certain amount of prestige and exposure that style-dependent people (the influentials) want to be associated with.

This culture of dependency erodes any chance to build solid, democratic, and self-sustaining initiatives that are led by non-governmental institutions. In fact, it erodes any chance for this country to be dependent on institutions as opposed to names. Or, to put this in the form of a question: couldn’t all of these initiatives have been carried out by institutions that are not associated with royalty?

In my opinion, we need a moratorium on, if not an abolishing of, all these royally-driven initiatives and patronages in general. If the idea is a great one, then outsource it to civil society and help strengthen those much-needed institutions instead of putting it in the hands of the King, Queen, the Crown or the government.

Moreover, if whoever’s responsible for helping design and promote these initiatives is so keen on enhancing the image of the King and Queen, then why not simply have them cut a ribbon. If the King was truly serious about shifting the Jordanian paradigm in to more of a constitutional monarchy, then shouldn’t steps be taken to transform the position of the monarch in to more ceremonial role as opposed to increasing their involvement in every faucet of Jordanian life? Would that not fit in with the vision the King has clearly stated?


  • Haha didn’t you learn anything from Khaled Mahadeen’s incident?? 🙂
    And that was just a guy not “very happy” with the Parliament 🙂

  • I love this post. When I first arrived in Jordan to do research, I thought I was set up to fail miserably because there were so many initiatives to track. Then I realized that most of them didn’t mean anything, and it became pretty easy to separate what was an important, longstanding initiative from a short-term vanity show.

    Another thing that drives me crazy is the foreign hype over these various initiatives. Foreign leaders and journalists don’t seem to realize their temporal nature, nor the greater injustices that surface-level initiatives fail to remedy.

  • Policies shifts is jordan faster than you shift gears on 6loo3 elme9dar. In 2005, bush was still taken seriously, hence the king’s comments about constitutional monarchy.

    “In my opinion, we need a moratorium on, if not an abolishing of, all these royally-driven initiatives and patronages in general.”
    You mean like everything? everything?Even cars? Plus, do we know how much those patronages and initiatives cost?

    Good stuff buddy.

  • Very good article. I couldn’t agree more. I’m involved with a professional association. They were trying to plan an event and talked about how it “had’ to have Royal Patronage. Apparently the perception is that sponsors want to be associated with such events… For me, I don’t get why we would want this or (more importantly) why we would want the King or Queen who are not involved and not notable in the particular field rather than someone actually involved in it. I was told (many times) it’s just because I’m foreign. Maybe so, but I still don’t get it.

  • “The outcome of all of this is the fueling of this ever-increasing culture of dependency on royal patronage.”
    Agreed! It has also lead to a Jordanian populace who are forever more waiting for a ‘saviour’. They do not take up causes, form advocacy groups, or take part in intiatives because ‘the King, if he really wanted to, can fix everything’. If they have a problem, their port of call is complaining to the King. not taking salvation into their own hands.
    it’s not just dependency. it’s a society that has lost sight of its own potential because of the way patronage is managed.
    and i agree with you abotu addressing this too – abolishing royal-driven initiatives is a good start. a needed start.

  • The problem with these initiatives is not that there are so many of them or the royal patronage,it’s the fact that they remain initiatives. Initiatives are supposed to be the first stepping stone to a full blown self sustaining program. Hello i’m the king i initiated something could you people see to it that it accomplishes its goal…i’m giving you a vision technically that’s ALL i’m supposed to do …go ahead explode to something big and good make… me proud!….left with the people the initial excitment and phony ars kissing coined social responsibility ends… the inititave DIES…cameras off. repeat scene as often as our government changes.

    Generally speaking it is ridiculous that the king and queen have to tend to every single detail and start initiatives to solve every single problem in the country because that means the dysfunctional systems of government and society would not operate without the Royal Will.

    I think we should abolish the parliment and the useless bodies of government that can’t do their job neither according to an agenda, nor common good (or sense), and only do things bi irada malakeyeh sameyeh. The money that we waste on the parliment and it’s benefits can be used for more initiatives and more extended media coverage for those initiatives so the public doesn’t ever feel the inititave “died out”

  • I generally agree but can you provide us with examples of initiatives that don’t seem to be delivering what they’ve prmised?

  • SF- The National Agenda is probably a prominent example. So are all of these initiatives for new business associations, which continue to have limited voice relative to the Chambers. JAED is another example.

  • London: I learned we have to a bit bolder these days instead of scared, otherwise, nothing gets discussed.
    AMP: I would argue (and this is just me perhaps) that some of these initiatives are designed to appease both domestic and/or foreign entities. Sometimes both, but always one or the other. The latter is usually window-dressing progress in order to garner more funds. This is usually done on a ministerial level but even civil-society, most of which seems funded by USAID, engages in similar activities.

    Mohanned: “Policies shifts is jordan faster than you shift gears on 6loo3 elme9dar”….that’s a classic line..will use it in the future!

    MommaBean: This is one of the negative impacts I was getting at with the culture of dependency…now any organization goes after this patronage because they feel unsuccessful in its absence.

    Deena: very well put and a very valid point. we are nurturing a culture where nothing gets done without the King or Queen getting involved and it even affects the way our government functions: inefficiency is abound until royalty gets involved and suddenly the walls are painted and the floors are mopped.

    Maha: well, let’s start with aiming for a moratorium on royal intitiatives and patronage, then we can move on to abolishing government all together 😀

    SF: they are many, but right off the bat…Jordan First…National Agenda…Judicial reform initiative…etc (and these are the ‘big guns’)

  • I have easier and cost effective solution to get ride of all those fake initiatives , impeach this paralyzed government once and for all.,it the easiest way and more practical way to solve our complex problems.

    The king has been governing this country for long 10 years and under his patronage ,things have gone from bad to worst and I say to the king move over let us solve our own problems because the time is right and rip..

  • “I say to the king move over let us solve our own problems because the time is right and rip..”
    @ free Jordanian

    “us” is it your habit to refer to yourself in the third person? eheheheh I bet you’d wanna be crowned instead!

    The statement you’ve made is just as ridiculous as those initiatives are.. where from ground zero will it take us, the Jordanian people?!

    @ the article

    It just makes you think that the basic drive of such initiatives is hypocrisy, aka gaining royal favors, which is achieved perhaps right away for the big names out there behind such initiatives; hence, naturally, such initiatives only gain momentum at the start and for a short period of time, but don’t eventually deliver most often than they do. what is delivered is only the publicity of an individual or several individuals.

    What has to be done simply is eradicate all initiatives that seem to have remained initiatives and never materialized. And when starting any new project it has to have a full program and grounded specific measures set at the responsibility of those who start them all together.

  • Thanks for the reply.

    Now the questions are: 1) are the initiatives fundamantally flawed? (i.e. are the objectives ridiculous to start with?) OR 2) was the delivery lacking for some genuinely and fundamentally favourable objectives?

    And then the second point I’d raise is this: GIVEN that we live in a country where having such “back-up” opens up some otherwise rocky paths, what is the success probability of a genuinely good initiative that does not have the royal stamp? In other words, if you get an initiative with brilliant objectives but no royal back-up, how much value does the royal stamp add? will they raise more money? have a wider distribution? get a larger level of envolvement? etc….

  • ““us” is it your habit to refer to yourself in the third person? eheheheh I bet you’d wanna be crowned instead!”
    secratea ,,, Iam only a concerned falafel maker who wants to sell more falfal and humus and off course is to be free in his own country without the fear of the Mokhabarat,that all Secreta, I actually like to crowned as the king of Falafal.

  • Everybody can have a good idea about something important. It’s what we do about it, how the work gets done, and how it benefits the bigger picture.

    Initiatives should be about the endgame. Weight should be focused on results. The finish line is a great place to celebrate with press releases and photo ops, coz achievement is everything. A testimony thru results and by those who benefit speaks for itself loud and proud, and the positive ripple effect is incredible.

    Stories of good results live forever and are contagious. Empty press releases driven by protocol barely live for a day.

  • Nas: I totally agree with you, I was just being sarcastic!
    I think it’s great that we have writers like yourself in the Jordanian blogsphere..

  • these initiatives you talk about in your article are made so layalina magazine can come take pictures of all the pretty ladies in all their pretty dresses at the annual dinner .. la akthar wala aqal

  • I agree that this patriarchal approach to governance is truly the root of all evil in our beloved Jordan. The connection is quite obvious between your last few articles. If Father wants a 200 percent raise, Father will certainly get it. If Father wants to jail journalists (but then issue pardons and decrees for a chosen few); then Father will do it. If Father decides that perhaps now is the time that you children (us) get to speak, then you shall speak when spoken to.

    If we speak without being spoken to, then you are disturbing the country’s peace, because we are in a “critical phase”. It’s like practicing your rights needs to take the back seat for the sake of public safety. I think as Jordanians, we’ve become so comfortable in our shells and in our comfort zone, that we are afraid of rocking the boat. I think we are afraid to bear the responsibility that comes with freedom. We really think that civil society is born overnight, and we really believe that we could ask Father to build civil society for us (history indicates otherwise). Since when is such development top down and not the opposite?

    I used to think that our problem in Jordan is that there’s a war between the new guard and the old guard. Now I am quite convinced that the new guard and the old guard are just two faces for the same coin; it’s only that the old guard play “bad cop” and the new guard plays “good cop”.

    We, the people, are stuck smack in the middle of the two. And we, the people, are to be blamed for, because hey, speaking for myself, what have I done to change this? Nothing, I am just running my mouth here…

  • Interesting!

    I’ve read an article a couple of days back about HM the King initiating a form of decentralization of government, and I think that such an initiative would change a lot on the political, economical and social scene in Jordan. The Royal Court together with the government body, have been engaged in Jordan’s minor and major happenings ever since the foundation of this country. And that’s something we are used to as Jordanians. I am certain that many people including the King are sharing a new vision for Jordan now, because they’re realizing that Jordan is moving in new directions, in a new global era. Expanding and growing in a way that needs rethinking the reorganization of financial, administrative, or service delivery systems. Will that entail that the Royal Court may take the back seat on things like “Royal Initiatives’? I am not quite sure, but developing influential sub-ordinate entities, might be one step of maintaining the do-able over the say-able for sure!

  • Can someone tell me whats this new “Himmeh” thing ? celebrate people working behind the scenes to build their country by voting for them like its Star Academy or Pop Idol? but if they are truly working “behind the scenes” then how am i gonna find out about it to vote for them? LOL

  • A good post, institutional rise is already a very long overdue.

    If you know about someone that works, volunteers, or contributes to the public benefit or others help without being celebrated or acknowledged, nominate them if you wish. Thats about it.

  • well, i can remember several major initiatives that never saw the light
    – ahl el azzm
    – kuluna el urdun
    – jordan first
    – the political reform section of the national agenda
    – banning smoking in public places when they cannot even ban smoking inside the cockpits of Royal Jordanian flights. Even VIPs, ministers and former prime ministers, are allowed to smoke in the cockpit if it happens that any of the crew members is a smoker on that flight.
    – A promise to donate JD 1 million to the Jordan Press Association to help train jouralists and improve their professional standard. The money, it seems, will now go to a new media institute that will move into the premise of the dissolved Higher Media Council, just close to the Foreign Ministry. The same HMC building was first promised to the national news agency Petra when the government decided it was closing down the Centre. But suddenly Petra was notified that the three-floor building, housing technical equipment, TV and radio production gear, as well as a computer lab — most of which was donated by European governments toward furnishing the HMC media training facility, will be rented for a symbolic fee to the same private media institute that is supposed to start teaching a MA in media in September 2009.
    — these are just a few examples of what comes to my mind. But I am sure if anyone took a day off and checked newspaper archives, he will come across hundreds of initiatives that never saw the light, even though they were good tools to promote promoises.

Your Two Piasters: