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The King’s speech

Feb 02,2021 - Last updated at Feb 02,2021

Although the title of this article may seem familiar to you from the Academy Award winning film starring Colin Firth, who portrays the late King George VI, it is actually referring to His Majesty King Abdullah’s  speech at World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos via teleconference on January 28 2021.

The King is no stranger to giving opening speeches at WEF (in both its Davos and Dead Sea editions), but this year’s event coincides with two monumental Jordanian occasions: The Centennial of the Hashemite reign in Jordan, as well as the birthday of the fourth sovereign from that reign.

The King’s speech at the WEF was shortly followed by His Majesty issuing directives to Bishr Khassawneh’s Cabinet after the Prime Minister was able to capture the Parliament’s vote of Confidence. The King also gave a comprehensive interview to the Jordanian News Agency (Petra). So it Is safe to say that the media has had a handful of Royal events and speeches to analyse and write about recently.

Jordan is fighting an up-hill battle on the political and economic fronts, so the King — much like King George VI at the start of World War II — delivered a powerful message of hope and optimism to his people. He gave a promise that the economic situation in Jordan is on the verge of making a rebound for the better. Not many specifics were given, yet the speech was full of good omens and positive signs. The speech also promised better management and control of the Corona pandemic, as well as the implementation of ardent efforts to stabilise and pacify tensions in the Levant, and highlighted the reports coming from world economic and financial institutions indicating that the world economy is about to “cross the curve”.

The content of the King’s message was not only meant to be morale-lifting, but it also underlined the new avenues Jordan must take in order to put its economic prospects on a new track.

His Majesty emphasised the need for both the private and public sectors to form harmonious engagement and effective partnerships, since neither sector has what it takes to address the pending issues alone. Both sectors need each other, and must adopt the measures to ensure a successful recovery.

Since unemployment and poverty are on the rise, investment should be the vehicle for fighting those twin calamities. Unemployment amongst the youth is especially high, particularly among women, therefore, SMEs should be encouraged,  and there should be proper training available for the youth to become vital members of the economy.

The sectors of agriculture, energy, IT, education and health should be top-priority, along with restructuring the energy and transportation sectors. As for the tourism sector, it needs to be ready to bounce back once travel becomes safe, and poses less of a threat on the public’s well-being.

The questions that need to be addressed are: Can the current private sector institutions rise up to the challenges they face? And will the current government, which does not respect the private sector in its current composition, convince the latter to work together? And finally, what can be done to avert returning to the days of hands-on economic controls, restrictions and even displacement?

These questions, which loom overhead, need to be resolved and answered immediately.

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