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Silicon Wadi

16 Feb

Could a prototype Arabic Silicon Valley solve Amman's constant economic trouble?

Here’s my Welcome-Back-Post: A link to an interesting comment by William D. Cohan for the Washington Post addressing flourishing times for internet start-ups in Amman.

It’s no news really that Jordan lacks natural resources and is hugely dependent on foreign financial aid, and that Jordan’s economy is more volatile than, say, neighboring Saudi Arabia with an exuberant supply of oil.

Despite the changes in the region, King Abdullah II. has to worry less about abdicating than about improving his country’s economic outlook for the coming years: Amman’s prices and unemployment rates are rising, its economy is all but stable, and Amman is home to a huge number of excellently educated young people who aren’t able to score adequate jobs or salaries. A detailed look on the problematic Jordanian labor market can be found in February’s issue of Jordan Business Magazine.

Nonethless, Cohan’s article sheds a look on the growing number of young new internet start-ups emerging in the Jordanian capital, a lot of which are born out of necessity and with very little to no venture capital: Money’s tight, but there’s a lot of brains. I am therefore not surprised that Rachid Sifraoui, founder of the venture capital firm Finaventures, ranked Amman 10th among the best cities in the world for tech start-ups, according to Cohan’s article. While 10th place may be up for discussion, there’s no arguing the huge number of vibrant, young, hipster, quirky or insanely smart businesses you’ll stumble over when in Amman. Does Amman however have enough resources to keep up the development and become an Arabic “Silicon Wadi”? How is that going to work out alongside the strategy of marketing Jordan as an adventurous tourist destination? And where are the hip organic coffee shops going to open?