Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Jordan fell by 34 per cent in the first five months of the year as a result of regional unrest. Total investment reached only JD336m ($473m) compared with JD805m in the same period in 2010.

Despite the drop, the investments in 2011 generated more jobs than last year. The 140 projects this year generated 7,231 jobs, whereas projects in 2010 created 6,783 jobs.

“The uprisings created distortions in the market and a lack of clarity, but the investments this year were of high added value to the economy,” says Samer Asfour, chief executive officer of the Jordan Investment Board.

Investments in January and February were the worst, with a little improvement in March and April. About 40 per cent of total FDI comes from the GCC. This is likely to increase once Jordan becomes a fully inaugurated member of the GCC.

Investments in Jordan* (JDm)
The Netherlands JD31m 31
Iraq JD7.9m 7.9
Lebanon JD7.3m 7.3
Saudi Arabia JD5m 5
Bahrain JD5m 5
*=Volume of investments under Investment Promotion Law in Jordan in 2010. Source: Jordan Investment Board

“There is a misconception of the Middle East from a Western point of view that Jordan is part of the chaos, when in reality this is not the case, so we have changed our priority and will be targeting the GCC countries,” says Asfour.

Jordan will be targeting Saudi Arabia, which invested JD5m last year, Kuwait and the UAE in particular. According to Asfour, Kuwaitis have invested the most with JD9bn in total, which they plan to double within the next 10 years.

Most of the investments will go towards tourism, energy, medical and pharmaceutical sectors. The government also has plans to turn Jordan into the top destination for information communications technology (ICT) outsourcing, now that Egypt is struggling to reinstate its position in the field.

Currently the ICT sector contributes 14 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) with exports in the sector rising from JD400m in 2000, to more than JD2bn in 2010.