Qatar pledges $500m to Jordan in economic aid package


Qatar vowed on Wednesday to invest $500m in Jordan, shortly after its Gulf rivals announced a $2.5bn aid package for the struggling kingdom following a wave of anti-austerity protests.

The Qatari foreign ministry confirmed on social media that the petrol-rich Gulf emirate would invest half a billion dollars in infrastructure projects in Jordan, as well as generate more than 10,000 jobs for Jordanians in Qatar.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, and its finance minister, Ali Sharif al-Emadi, arrived in Jordan on Wednesday to negotiate the aid package.

The officials’ visit came days after a first Qatari offer of financial assistance was allegedly made in hushed tones to avoid Jordan’s relationship with Saudi Arabia being soured as a result.

For the past year, Saudi Arabia and some of its allies have placed Qatar under a blockade in an attempt to bring Doha’s policies into alignment with Riyadh’s.

The two ministers’ visit to Amman was reportedly the first since Jordan downgraded its relationship with Qatar last year in response to the Saudi-led blockade.

On Monday, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates rolled out plans for a $2.5bn aid package, including a deposit in the Jordanian central bank, World Bank guarantees, budgetary support over five years and financing for development projects.

The European Union also announced on Sunday 20m euros ($23.5m) in aid for Jordan, as mass protests against rising prices and an economic plan rocked the country in recent days.

The government’s austerity measures, which include a hugely unpopular income tax hike, are part of efforts to slash the country’s debt.

However, two outgoing Jordanian ministers – who were ousted when then-prime minister Hani al-Mulki’s government was dissolved last week as he was removed in a bid to appease protesters – told Middle East Eye of their scepticism regarding the suspected strings attached to the aid doled out by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The $2.5bn is seen by some as a means to exert pressure on Jordan to support US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” for Israel and Palestine.

Former deputy prime minister Mamdouh al-Abadi told MEE he had concerns that the aid package pledged by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE would have little impact on the kingdom’s finances.

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