The political turmoil in the Middle East captures headlines around the world. Places like Syria, Iraq and Libya are mainstays in the news cycle. However, one little-known Kingdom amid this chaos has proven to be incredibly resilient and shows promise for the future. Though faced with ongoing crises and conflict in the region, 2017 was a year of positive changes in Jordan.
“I do not know of any other country in recent history that has gone through such an onslaught of crises and found itself surrounded by so many conflicts through no fault of its own,” says Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, son and heir of King Abdullah remarked at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2017. “Yet in the face of these daunting challenges, we did not back down from our ideals, or our values. We did not turn our backs on people in need.”
Jordan has been an island of stability in the Middle East even amid a wave of refugees, economic stagnation and the threat of terrorism surrounding it on all sides.
Here are 8 facts about positive changes in Jordan that give hope for the future:
1. Jordan is ranked the second freest economy in the Middle East behind the United Arab Emirates. Despite lacking the magnificent oil wealth and foreign investments of the Emirates, Jordan is ensuring that businesses are in a climate where they can grow and create jobs.
2. Jordan’s Prime Minister has made it official policy to waive all service card requirements for Syrian refugee children attending school in Jordan. This will open the doors for thousands of young Syrians who were forced to leave their country amid the violence. This greater access to education will garner huge returns on investment in the future.
3. Jordan joined a group of other Middle Eastern countries that abrogated an infamous law that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if they married their victim. This is a victory for women’s rights in the country.
4. Though overwhelmed by refugees from conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the Azraq refugee camp has recently undertaken a project to operate the camp on 100 percent renewable energy. In 2017, they finally accomplished this, becoming the only refugee camp in the world to run on solely solar-powered plants.
5. Nour Al Hassan, a native Jordanian, runs the translation company Tarjama, where over 90 percent of employees are women. Over 60 Jordanian women have been hired by the company thus far. In a region that is notorious for women’s unemployment rates, this is a positive change for the future.
6. Although one of the poorest countries in terms of water resources, Jordan is becoming a testing ground for new water-saving technologies. The Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance project looks to supply water to the southern portions of the country while simultaneously filling up the ever-shrinking Dead Sea.
7. The Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) was ranked as one of the top 500 research universities by Times Higher Education. This is the first time a Jordanian higher education institution has been named to this list.
8. Queen Raina of Jordan was awarded the Global Trailblazer Award in 2017, presented by Vital Voices Global Leadership, which recognizes the leadership of women around the world. Queen Raina is a stalwart of women’s rights, education and poverty alleviation.
These 8 facts are just a snapshot of the positive changes in Jordan. In a region where good news is difficult to come by, the advancements made by Jordan are praiseworthy and are moving the country in a positive direction in the face of unimaginable difficulties.
– Daniel Cavins