|Aqaba’s zone expects higher ventures|
* Only $500 million have been invested at the Aqaba Special Economic Zone since the zone’s launch in 2001, according to Emad Fakhoury, chairman of the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC). However, he continued, the zone would receive $6 billion in investments by 2020, mainly in the fields of tourism and services. He said that a comprehensive survey is now being conducted by an experienced international agency to assess the zone’s volume of investments and job opportunities. The Aqaba zone witnesses now an extensive renovation plan in its seaport, by applying systematic procedures in shipping, loading and storing transactions. Fakhoury pointed that ADC’s capital of JD20 million was made available through foreign aid and the socio-economic transformation plan, but noted that the company’s operations at the zone are funded by the surplus of strategic projects that take place there.
Rising investments in real estate
* Investments in the Jordanian real estate market would reach JD3 billion at the end of this year, according to Abdel Munem Samara, director general of the Lands and Survey Department. He said that the sector has received JD1.3 billion in investments in the first five months of 2005, up by 90 percent over the same period of last year. Such investments helped in raising prices of land and residential units around Amman and neighboring areas. It was reported this week that prices of residential units went up by 30 percent in western Amman, in view of the rising land prices by 100 percent over the past year. On the contrary, prices of residential units in eastern Amman remained within the same limits, as it slightly rose by 5-10 percent.
Austrian businessmen eye Jordan
* Austria’s Trade Commissioner for the Near East (Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) Kurt Oltman expressed his desire this week to enhance the bilateral investments with Jordan. Oltman paid a two-day visit to the Kingdom, heading an Austrian trade delegation and highlighted the potential investment opportunities, and discussed the idea of establishing joint businesses with Jordanian counterparts. Oltman said Austrian investments in Jordan have been encouraging in recent years, and he wish to see them increase in terms of economic and financial aspects. According to him, Austrian investments in Jordan worth $130 million. Oltman indicated that many Austrian companies prefer Jordan as base for their regional businesses, especially in Iraq and Palestine.
E-learning impacts economy
* A seminar on Jordan’s e-learning initiative this week highlighted its economic perspective, as Minister of Education and Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Touqan affirmed Jordan’s eagerness to adapt the e-learning development in favor of the economic and social development. The Arab American University (AAU) organized the one-day seminar, where its chairman Abdul Nasir Baidus said technological revolution in Jordan has created a qualitative step in promoting advanced educational programs, in terms of concepts, theories and applications. He said the AAU’s main objective is helping e-learning initiative to upgrade students’ quality of knowledge to guarantee better employment opportunities. Baidus said the university would provide students with specialties that are not available in other Arab universities, utilizing advanced tools and economic-based programs. The AAU is expected to be operational by 2006.
Batelco, Mobilecom sign agreement
* Mobilecom, Jordan’s second largest GSM operator, signed on Sunday a bilateral GPRS roaming agreement with Bahrain’s leading telecom operator, Batelco, allowing Batelco’s mobile users to enjoy extra services on their phones while visiting Jordan. Such services include video clips, email and access to the Internet. The agreement is part of Batelco’s strategy to help its mobile users enjoy wide ranging of GSM and GPRS services through their roaming in 105 countries, which was made available through joint agreements with 256 mobile operators worldwide. Batelco’s subscribers can also use the MMS roaming facilities provided by Mobilecom in a raft of popular destinations. Batelco’s free-time and value-time (post-paid) mobile customers, who have MMS enabled handsets with MMS/GPRS settings, can already use the full service while traveling.
Comptroller liquidates money exchange companies
* The Companies Control Department (CCD) listed 34 money exchange companies in Jordan under the liquidation procedures due to the failure of these companies to obtain licenses from the Central Bank of Jordan. Companies Comptroller Mahmoud Ababneh said more money exchange companies were also instructed to adjust their conditions before the end of this month. Ababneh said CCD’s procedures were taken in cooperation with the CBJ to enhance the performance of money exchange companies in Jordan. Money exchangers expressed their dismay over the CCD’s measures, saying they aimed at curbing the money exchange businesses in the Kingdom. CBJ has asked Ministry of Industry and Trade recently to annul the registration of many money exchange companies for their inefficiency.