Jordan today signed strategic local and international business agreements valued at over US$2.5 billion on the margins of the fourth World Economic Forum on the Middle East meeting being held at the Dead Sea.
“Today’s agreements reiterate our commitment to strengthening our economy through private sector-led investment and growth, as well as our commitment to cross-border partnerships,” said King Abdullah II who attended the signing ceremony. The deals also underpin the growth in Arab and foreign investment in Jordan which has increased several fold in the last few years and fuelled real growth which has averaged 6.5% annually since 2002.
The business agreements, with companies from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, the U.S., Ireland, France, the UK, Japan, China, and India, cover sectors as varied as energy, transportation, finance, light industry, and highlights the growing role of Arab and foreign investment-driven growth in Jordan and emerging model of public-private partnerships in strengthening the country’s economy.
Some of the key partnerships include setting up a light rail system connecting Amman and Zarqa, the expansion of the Queen Alia International Airport, the acquisition of a majority stake by a UAE-Jordan private equity firm, Jordan Dubai Capital, in Jordan’s electricity generating company, and a number of projects in infrastructure development, finance, light industry, and information technology.
A highlight of the deals signed today is the development of the Amman-Zarqa Light Rail System (LRS) through consortium comprising Infrastructure Development Company, Sadullah Khan & Brothers, Hycarbex American Energy, CETC International of China, and United Jordanian Contractors. The consortium will build an electric-powered, double track from Amman to Zarqa. The 26-kilometre railway will be developed on a BOT basis for 30 years and will be operational in 2009.
ADP Consortium, an international consortium composed of Aéroports de Paris Management (France), Abu Dhabi Investment Company (UAE), Noor Financial Investment Company (Kuwait), EDGO Investment Holdings (Jordan), J&P-Avax (Greece), and Joannou & Paraskevaides Overseas (UK / Cyprus), will invest US$550 million for the structured rehabilitation, expansion, and operation of the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. The airport will accommodate 12 million passengers when completed.
There are significant investments in the real estate sector including the US$500 million Samarah Dead Sea Golf & Beach Resort by the Dead Sea Touristic and Real Estate Investment Company, a joint venture between Emaar Properties PJSC and a number of regional investors, and the US$50 million Dibeen Woodland resort project by Jordan Dubai Capital.
Investment in the energy sector includes the setting up of the Jordan Dubai Energy Consortium, which will acquire 51% of the Central Electricity Generating Company (CEGCO) in Jordan. Oil exploration agreements have also been signed with Global Petroleum Limited (India), Universal Energy (India), Petrel Limited (Ireland), and Sonoran Energy Inc. (U.S.).
In key financial agreements, Jordan Dubai Capital and Dubai Islamic Bank signed a US$100 million Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to acquire majority stake in Industrial Development Bank. Jordan Dubai Capital and Jordan’s Social Security Investment Unit also announced the establishment of Inwan Mortgage Finance, a public shareholding company with a paid-up capital of US$75 million.
Seven deals were also signed with anchor tenants for the King Hussein Bin Talal Economic Zone in the north-eastern city of Mafraq, where His Majesty King Abdullah II announced the formation of a special economic zone for logistics and light industry in November 2006. These include the US$21 million production facility by Petra Engineering Industries to manufacture air-conditioning units; a US$49.4 million modern cable manufacturing facility by MESC Specialized Cables in association with Fujikura (Japan); a US$14 million logistics park for warehousing by Specialized Investment Compounds; a US$28.2 million investment to develop a shipping logistics centre by Future Arab Investment as well as a joint venture agreement by Future & Ugur to establish a factory to manufacture freezers and cooling units. The deals also cover the setting up of a logistics centre by Aramex in partnership with the Vocational Training Corporation, the German-Jordanian University and the Ministry of Labor to initiate a vocational training program to support logistics activities in the Mafraq Development Zone, as well as an investment of US$20 million by Emaar Industries & Investments MultiForms to establish an aluminum manufacturing plant.
Two deals were also signed with anchor tenants for the Irbid Economic Zone, launched in May 2007 by King Abdullah II at the northern city of Irbid as a healthcare, education, and information technology free zone near the campus of the Jordan University for Science and Technology, one of Jordan’s leading educational institutions. They include an agreement to establish a nursing college for a total investment of US$35 million as well as an agreement with Jordan Telecom to provide state-of-the-art services in the zone.
A number of agreements in information technology were also signed. Two strategic partnerships agreements were signed between the government and U.S.-based Oracle and Microsoft. Optimiza, a Jordan-based company listed on the Amman Stock Exchange, signed agreements to acquire eight local and regional companies for a total of US$16 million and announced that the Arab Bank, the leading Jordanian bank, has acquired a 10% in the company, and that Dubai-based Rasmala acquired a further 5% stake. Optimiza also signed a strategic agreement with U.S.-based Computer Associates.
A number of announcements were also made, including the launch of a US$50 million investment bank in Jordan by the Bahrain-based Kuwait Finance House, the announcement of the Arabian Gardens Residence project, a 1,200 unit residential compound just outside the capital Amman at a cost of US$211 million, as well as the announcement of the signing of a MoU between the Jordan Phosphates Mines Company, Bahrain-based Venture Capital Bank, and Jordan Arab Fertilizers and Chemicals Company, for the development of a fully integrated fertilizer and chemical industrial complex in Jordan, for a total investment of US$65 million. U.S.-based Cisco also announced the extension of its strategic relationship with the government of Jordan.
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