It may not figure strongly on the radar of the typical expat, if such a person actually exists. Nevertheless, Jordan has a lot going for it, not least its family-safe reputation and a host of historical and scenic attractions, such as the ancient rock-cut architecture found in the city of Petra and the unique Dead Sea with its biblical scrolls and health tourism associations.
Mind you, if the said typical expat happens to be concerned about health, it’s not likely to be anything much to do with mind or body but about the state of the current account and other banking matters. And that’s the way it should be given any move with the ultimate aim of living and working in a new land is usually fraught with financial and other difficulties. It’s a big step. The well-worn tourist trails will keep until much later, when all the dust, ancient or otherwise, has finally settled.
Jordan is no United Arab Emirates in terms of expat numbers, that’s for sure. And Amman, its capital city, is no Dubai when it comes to the architecturally spectacular. But with the political and economic instability which has swept over swathes of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region over recent years, Amman has been turning heads at many of the world’s largest multinational companies looking for a Middle-Eastern toehold.
A survey of senior executives and managers at multinational companies (MNCs) in the Middle East, conducted by Dunia Frontier Consultants at the height of the unrest, certainly revealed significant insights into the shifting market landscape, including how MNCs approached their decisions to enter new markets and set up and staff new offices.
According to Dunia, many companies had ambitious expansion plans for markets like Egypt, Syria and Bahrain, but these have been put on hold, in many cases for several years, given lingering political uncertainty and knock-on economic effects.
Dunia said, “Over the next 10 years, while Dubai will retain pre-eminence as a regional business hub, Doha and Amman are expected to capture the activity of MNCs as they move to tap consumer demand in Saudi Arabia and the Levant, and provide government and B2B services for massive infrastructure spending in Qatar.
“While Dubai’s current status is based on first-mover advantage, infrastructure and quality of life for expatriate staff, several respondents suggested that Doha may within the next decade succeed in positioning itself as a viable alternative for MNCs working both regionally and internationally.”
According to the company, which provides financial consulting services to investors and companies operating on the frontiers of 21st century business, the survey also revealed how information and communications technology and ease of transportation was allowing many MNCs to pursue leaner, more cost-efficient and decentralized office and staffing policies.
The survey also highlighted that bureaucracy, regulation and cultural barriers remain the most commonly cited challenges to doing business in the Middle East.
But all of that aside, whether Jordan is seen through business, tourist or expat eyes, Amman is likely to provide the first glimpse of this incredible country. Filled with the old and new, the modern and the conservative, where modern hotels, restaurants and boutiques sit comfortably with traditional coffee shops and small artisan workshops, Amman truly is a city worth savouring.