|To enhance the Stone and Marble sector,Revolutionary measures are needed
|The architectural landscape in Jordan has, for decades, been influenced by the utilization of the natural stone, which adds a distinctive aura to its buildings and catches the eye of any visitor to Jordan, especially the Capital Amman.
The Jordanian construction sector has advanced the use of local stone over the years, leading to a sophisticated industry that has significant elements of success and growth throughout a region undergoing an architectural revolution.
The various studies carried out on this industry reinforce its importance vis-à-vis investments and job opportunities. These studies recommend the necessity to concentrate on the value added aspect of this industry to consolidate the Jordanian economy through the promotion of exports that would enhance local and foreign investments and consequently create much needed job opportunities.
The SMG manager of the Stone Sector at EJEP (Euro-Jordanian Export Program), Eng. Ziad Abbasi, stated that the industry comprises seven large and modern factories, plus 50 medium sized ones in addition to thousands of workshops employing around 4,000 workers.
These factories, which process the Ajloun, Desert, Halabat, Traverteen, and Karaki stones, export their products to many markets such as the US, Australia, East Asia, and the Arab Gulf states. Noting that stone exports in 2005 reached approximately $25 million, Abbasi suggested that this figure could be doubled in the near future in view of the bilateral agreements signed with the US and Europe in addition to the ongoing liberation of trade with Arab countries.
However, this sector faces many challenges. To attain a flourishing export market and ensure the sustainability of the industry, “the use of advanced technology in extracting raw material in addition to training the local labour force, adhering to international standards and measures, and tapping into world markets, are all major components that must be implemented,” commented Abbasi. “The prevailing rules and regulations governing this vital industry present many obstacles which hinder the sector’s development. An air of urgency, to revise those rules and regulations, exists now with emphasis on the export factor as a dynamic engine of progress and sustainability,” added Abbasi. The government is cooperating with the private sector and donor programs to consolidate the ground work already painstakingly covered by the Jordan Stone and Tile Sector, with the active support of EJEP, and to promote the export potential of this lucrative industry.
The Stone industry stands to benefit from the successful implementation of the latest mechanisms applied worldwide in licensing quarries, environmental protection, high level training, technology application, which would ultimately attract investments, create job opportunities, and enhance the quality and quantity of exports, Abbasi concluded.