The Report: Jordan2015

Jordan’s stable political environment, as well as the robust growth projections for its economy, should ensure near term investment inflows continue to fuel growth across the board; however, regional instability has been having a negative impact on the country’s tourism sector and rising refugee numbers are putting increased pressure on state services.

Country Profile

According to the Department of Statistics Jordan’s population, swelled largely by refugees arriving from Syria, reached 6.68m at the end of 2014, with Syrian refugees constituting 20.8% of the total. Jordan, however, continues to be a bulwark of stability in the region. This is largely down to the ongoing process of political reform which has been in motion since King Abdullah II ascended to the throne. Moreover, the kingdom has forged strong partnerships with Western countries over the past few decades, particularly the US. Jordan’s multitude of free trade agreements (FTAs) has created a vehicle for both domestic economic development and greater integration with the global economy, and in 2000 King Abdullah II implemented a series of policies intended to accelerate economic reform that facilitated the kingdom joining the World Trade Organisation in that year.

This chapter contains viewpoints from King Abdullah II and Joe Biden, Vice-President of the United States; and an interview with Abdullah Ensour, Prime Minister of Jordan.

Explore chapter


Ongoing regional conflicts have continued to place significant pressures on Jordan’s economy in the past year. Tourist revenues have been particularly affected while the closure of key trade routes with neighbouring countries has also taken its toll. According to the IMF, however, Jordan has done well despite the effects of regional instability. This is largely due to a recovery in industry and mining, with phosphate production reaching a high of 746,200 tonnes. Moreover, the World Bank forecasts robust GDP growth of 2.5% for the kingdom in 2015 and 3.7% in 2016. A new public-private partnership law and a 10-year economic development strategy are set to support this further growth, with the government working to target billions in foreign investment inflows. Elsewhere Jordan’s fiscal and external balances are expected to stabilise in 2015 and improve moderately over the medium term, while falling oil prices, subsidy reforms and energy diversification will likely improve the country’s economic standing moving forward.

This chapter contains interviews with Umayya Toukan, Former Minister of Finance; Montaser Oklah Al Zoubi, President, Jordan Investment Commission; and Imad Fakhoury, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

Explore chapter

Financial Services

Finance and insurance remain major drivers of Jordan’s economic growth and in 2014 contributed they contributed a combined $3.6bn, or 13.9%, to GDP. Although lending has slowed somewhat, the sector remains well capitalised with banking sector deposits expanding by a robust 9.7% in 2014 to reach $42.7bn at the end of the year, a $3.8bn increase compared to a $3.7bn rise in 2013. Meanwhile the Jordan Securities Commission is undertaking feasibility studies to examine the possibility of demutualising and eventually privatising the Amman Stock Exchange. For its part, the insurance industry recorded 30.5% growth in combined net profits in 2014, with gross profits rising to a total of $46m, up from $31.9m the previous year, while new government legislation specifying the structure and transfer framework for the issuance of sharia compliant debt represents a positive step for the kingdom’s bond markets.

This chapter contains interviews with Ziad Fariz, Governor, Central Bank of Jordan; and Nemeh Sabbagh, CEO, Arab Bank.

Explore chapter


As Jordan has historically imported the majority of its energy needs, the drop in global oil prices between mid-2014 and early 2015 will have a positive impact on the kingdom’s near term energy bills and on its trade deficit. However, the kingdom is also set to diversify its energy sources moving forward. As part of its National Energy Plan, Jordan hopes to see 29% of total energy needs met by natural gas by 2020, 14% by oil shale and 6% from nuclear energy. The plan also aims to generate more than 15% of total projected energy requirements via renewable resources. Indeed renewable energy activity has seen a sharp uptick in recent years, guided by sector-specific legislation and a raft of new solar and wind projects, with close to 1000 MW of solar and wind projects under development.

This chapter contains an interview with Ibrahim Saif, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources.

Explore chapter


Jordan’s transport sector underwent significant expansion in 2015 with upgrades to road, rail, air and sea links all driving the sector. Indeed, the port of Aqaba has completed much of its expansion work and is now engaged in new phases of re-development and growth. The road network continues to be upgraded in line with the 25-year road improvement programme commenced in 2002, which will see a total of around $1.8bn invested in the kingdom’s roadways. In the aviation segment, the new Queen Alia International Airport received 7.09m passengers in 2014, an increase of 9% year-on-year. Meanwhile, the Aqaba-Ma’an-Amman railway is the cornerstone of a JD2bn ($2.8bn) plan for a rail network announced in April 2015. In addition to improving connectivity, the project is expected to reduce transport costs, making Jordanian exports more competitive and imports cheaper.

This chapter contains an interview with Lina Shbeeb, Former Minister of Transport.

Explore chapter

Construction & Real Estate

The year 2014 was marked by strong growth in the construction sector and despite regional volatility slowing rollout for tourism projects, new developments in the residential, transport and energy sectors are expected to continue fueling growth. Indeed, credit extended to the construction sector in 2014 totalled $658m, up from $569m in 2013. In terms of real estate, 2014 saw trading continue to grow along with steady rises in property prices, especially in Amman. Although oversupply in the retail, high-end residential and commercial markets has been a cause for concern, the high prices for land are expected to cause a slowdown in development while regional instability will also reinforce Jordan’s safe-haven status as a selling point for international businesses seeking to set up shop in the region, thus keeping up a steady flow of foreign demand.

This chapter contains interviews with Hani Mulki, Chief Commissioner, Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority; and Taha Al Zboun, CEO, Dead Sea Development Zone.

Explore chapter

Industry & Retail

Jordan’s industrial sector remains a central pillar of the kingdom’s economy with manufacturing contributing $6bn to the country’s estimated nominal GDP of $35.7bn in 2014. Meanwhile the country’s large mining industry – particularly of potash and phosphate – have fueled the rise of major chemicals and fertiliser industries in the kingdom while the country’s robust building materials sector has benefitted from the GCC construction boom, with worked monumental and building stone exports growing from $21m in 2013 to $50m in 2014. The kingdom’s organised retail segment has witnessed steady expansion over the last few years, with retail sales overall averaging 7.8% growth during the 2011-14 period. Meanwhile the e-retail segment is also on the rise, with Jordan-based online retailers taking advantage of the country’s central location to ship goods to customers in the region, as well as domestic clients.

This chapter contains an interview with Brent Heimann, CEO, Arab Potash Company.

Explore chapter


Jordan’s tourism industry benefits greatly from a number of competitive advantages including its proximity to large regional feeder markets, diverse landscapes and climates, and the presence of major historical and religious sites. Although regional instability has dampened visitor numbers in recent years, the industry remains an important pillar of the economy, and continues to expand despite the challenges. Indeed, total bed nights spent in Jordan in the first nine months of 2014 stood at 3.92m across all categories of accommodation, an increase of 12.2% on the same period in 2013, while total room nights were 2.27m, up from 2.15m a year earlier. Elsewhere tourism and real estate developments in Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal city, will help to boost hotel occupancy rates by generating economies of scale across the tourism industry.

This chapter contains an interview with Nayef Al Fayez, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities.

Explore chapter

Telecoms & IT

Jordan’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector is one of the most developed and robust in the region, bolstered by 15 years of industry friendly policies and a young population of digital consumers. Mobile subscribership soared from 3.13m users, representing 57% penetration in 2005, to 11.1m users and 147% penetration at the end of 2014. The market has seen consumers shift from personal computers and voice/SMS-centric mobile services to a data-driven mobile broadband market, with the popularity of 3G services increasing rapidly since their launch. Meanwhile state support for the IT sector is strong, and in 2010 the government launched a flagship early-stage seed investment company with the goal of supporting 500 new start-ups. The company provides between $30,000 and $70,000 in seed funding for various startup enterprises, and had invested in 95 companies by early 2015.

This chapter contains an interview with Majd Shweikeh, Minister of Information and Communications Technology.

Explore chapter

Health & Education

Jordan is one of the Middle East’s pre-eminent medical tourism destinations and a regional leader in pharmaceuticals production, with the kingdom’s efforts to attract further overseas patients set to drive growth in the private hospital segment in the coming years. Around 250,000 medical tourists visited Jordan in 2014 and this number is set to increase, with Saudi Arabia recently approving subsidies for medical treatment at Jordanian facilities. Meanwhile the country boasts high levels of education and, due to the nearly universal primary education and supplemental government programmes, the country’s literacy rate grew from 92% in 2007 to 98% in 2012, well above the average for the MENA region.

Explore chapter


This chapter contains an overview of the tax framework within which local and international investors operate in Jordan, including a look at a newly enacted corporate income tax, a rundown of the incentives on offer to encourage free zone investment and an explanation of the social security law amendment.

This chapter contains a viewpoint with Bishr Baker, Managing Partner, EY, Jordan and Iraq

Explore chapter

Legal Framework

This chapter contains an overview of the legal framework within which local and international investors operate in Jordan including a look at the new investment law, a rundown of the revised incentives being offered, as well as an examination of the recent tax reforms that have been put in place.

Explore chapter


This chapter contains an overview of the tax framework within which local and international investors operate in Jordan, including a look at a newly enacted corporate income tax, a rundown of the incentives on offer to encourage free zone investment and an explanation of the social security law amendment.

This chapter contains a viewpoint with Bishr Baker, Managing Partner, EY, Jordan and Iraq.

Explore chapter

Table of Contents

There are no articles in this chapter. To view the table of contents for this report, click the 'View in Online Reader' link above.