Making Jordan Great Again?


Today I read this  scathing attack on Jordanian immigration policy by a leading Jordanian journalist.  In a nutshell, he rips what he considers an over reliance on foreign workers at the expensive of hiring Jordanians.

The Key Question this article raises:  what does this say about the long-term fate of global immigration paradigms if Jordan – a relatively poor country – is having this kind of problem in 2017?

The article is in Arabic – here is my translation of the key points: 

A report by the “Empowerment” center, expected to be published next week … is filled with key information and data about foreign workers that illustrate the extent that official policy has failed in this area…The total number of foreign workers in the country is 1.2 million, with 315,000 of them having legal authorization to work….

These kinds of statistics about foreign workers, do not reflect – in any way shape or form – a healthy or natural state in a young society like Jordan, which suffers from high unemployment, reaching 40% amoung young people, in a state which has huge debt and a large budget defecit.

This situation (high unemployment + a labor market filled with foreign workers) is one of the central problems with the Jordanian economy. …

Author says “nonsense” to the notion that situation is necessary since Jordanians won’t work those jobs:

As for the “Culture of Shame” supposedly held by Jordanian workers, always stated by officials, is a false smear, designed to hide the failings of their policies.   It’s a huge lie, and we won’t be silent about it from hereon out. Because whenever you go to the Labor market, in the restaurants, the coffee shops, auto shops, the malls, and any large-scale commercial areas in Amman ( I can can cite dozens of examples), you will find young Jordanian men and women, a high number university students, working there, for very low salaries, merely in order to make daily spending money.

What To Do About It: 

Private Sector has to give the priority to Jordanians, implement laws for hours, minimum wage, social security, health insurance etc….legislation further emphasizing the favoring of Jordanian workers…focus on a few industries at a time, such as Services and Tourism.

Remember – This is Jordan – a relatively poor country – having this problem.

From a purely business sense, these arrangements makes a certain sense. For firms, they are naturally going to be looking for the lowest cost labor. That’s just the nature of business.  And nobody can blame foreign workers who go to Jordan to seek out opportunities.

But this is an explosive political problem (everywhere), and it’s only going to continue to become more of an issue over time.  It absolutely contributes to political tension and the rise of extremism in countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. (See my analysis of this problems as relates to KSA here)

The only long-term solution I can see is a much greater focus on Economic Localism.  See several articles I have written on this topic:

To Beat ISIS Focus on Economic Reforms

Not Just Tech Entrepreneurship in the Middle East

Stop Sending So Many Young People to University

2 thoughts on “Making Jordan Great Again?

  1. A reader in the UAE

    Thanks for posting about this issue. I would not have imagined this scenario to be happening in Jordan, as you suggested, a poor country. Does the article mention the country of origin of the foreign workers?


  2. Nathan

    Unfortunately it does not specify any nationality. I too had that thought and will look into it more and follow any more articles on this issue.


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