Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Time For A Serious Talk

My visit to Jordan proved -again- that Jordan, Amman in particular, is a symbol of constant and rapid blooming on both the regional as well as the international levels. And although my visit came 1 year after my last visit, and lasted for only 3 weeks, I was able to notice the many changes that took place and thought I'd like share here.
Let me begin with what I considered positive:

  • Jordan is open to investment more than ever, what I found beautiful is it being the center of attraction of Arab investors. I just love it when Arabs invest in Arab countries.

  • Improvement in the general look of Amman, one can sense the beautifying efforts in many streets and corners.

  • Lower Departure Fees for Jordanians, no Departure Fees for non-Jordanians (don’t know if that Applies only for Arabs or whether it includes non-Arabs as well), which is a very smart step that gives this tourism-friendly touch.

  • Anti-violence campaigns, specially concerning women and children. Billboards and all kinds of ads fill the streets and are constantly aired on TV to spread awareness and provide info about shelters.

  • A bigger variety of brands in the market and many Arabs favoring Amman as a shopping city.

  • Unbelievable competition between service companies, always good for the consumer ;)

  • Cultural events are getting more attention than before.

Now to some constructive criticism:

  • Amman has become really really crowded and driving has become a nightmare.

  • Due to the situation in Iraq, many Iraqis came to Amman, on one hand, their presence revived the economy since the sales of houses and apartments increased, on the other hand, and as a result of the high demand on houses, prices have become too high that neither average Iraqis nor Jordanians could easily afford them.

  • Living has become VERY expensive, and taxes -specially the sale's tax- are always on the rise. This caused many Jordanians to feel depressed since the income remained stable while the expenses are becoming higher and higher. I was shocked of the amount of Jordanians who were complaining about the expensive living inside and outside Amman.

  • Year after year one can't but notice the decrease in the amount of trees in Amman. They're being cut in big numbers to provide more space for centers, homes and huge malls. Every little space is built, making the city look even more crowded. Something quick should be done to protect the few remaining green spots from vanishing.

  • Although I consider competition and investment to be good for the consumer since they offer more choices of quality and price, it must be said that they could become a disaster to the service/ product provider if the competition isn't planned well. Huge malls are being built, all of them are much the same in concept offering almost the same kind of services and products, so when a new mall is open, people rush to it and abandon the older ones, this causes many malls, or stores in malls to close once and for all leaving many unemployed people and wasted places. Not to mention the unexplainable insistence on building many branches of the same restaurant within very close areas! why!

  • The lack of affordable entertaining facilities is a huge problem for both families and unmarried individuals. With the average income a person gets, it's really hard to spend good time in the city without suffering a shortage in the budget. On the other hand, many single young men are not allowed to get in certain centers or malls, since they're regarded as a source of disturbance and harassment, which leaves them no choice but waste their time wandering in the streets.

Every country has its good sides and its bad ones, let’s just hope things change from good to better and that our development will always be on the right track.