Although burdened by a refugee crisis on a scale not witnessed since World War II, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has miraculously prevailed. Tested to its core, Jordan has continued to grow between 2 to 3 per cent per year, all the while facing regional calamities that have negatively impacted public debt, tourism and trade.
Many Jordanians credit their nation’s ability to endure amid heavy external pressure to the political legerdemain of their monarch, His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, who has strengthened the Kingdom by evoking solidarity for support amongst its allies, especially those closest to home in the Arab world.
“Jordan, with its unifying identity, welcomes and supports its Arab brethren. Despite its size and meagre resources, [Jordan] stands out in the world as a bright example of compassion, generosity and a nation that aids those in need. And despite all the challenges, Jordan’s solid national unity, social coherence and peaceful nature give it strength,” His Majesty said in a speech given in Amman last May.
For the King, missions abroad have centred on rallying a consensus for how important international assistance is to Jordan and the greater good of the Levant. “Investing in Jordan is in reality a much larger investment in stability, resilience and hope for those in my country, but also for the region,” His Majesty has stated. “The fact is, if regional host countries were unable to fulfil our roles, the refugee burden would not disappear. It would simply fall elsewhere.”
Today, the stakes remain high, as pressures from receiving millions of refugees contribute to a 15.8% unemployment rate, with the Syrian refugee crisis alone creating an estimated loss of 1% of GDP growth annually, an IMF study has concluded.
“We host 1.4 million Syrians fleeing violence, [which] is draining a quarter of our entire national budget,” His Majesty remarked during a recent visit to Germany. “And this is in addition to approximately 2 million Jordanians who are also Palestinian refugees registered for decades with the UN, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and others from Libya and Yemen. This makes Jordan the biggest host of refugees in the world.”
Sustained engagement with all Arab allies is, thus, at the forefront of the King’s message to visitors of this year’s World Economic Forum’s meeting on Middle East and North Africa. “Our country believes that political solutions are the only way to ensure international cooperation and justice in a global community,” said His Majesty.
“Brothers and sisters, with the help of God, and the determination and awareness of its people, Jordan has emerged as a country with a message,” His Majesty continued, “the message of freedom, peace, harmony and development, relying on our principles and [being] proud of our identity and achievements.”