Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Jordan’s King Abdullah opens new downtown Abdali district in Amman | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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File photo of the Amman skyline. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

File photo of the Amman skyline. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

File photo of the Amman skyline. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Jordan’s King Abdullah II opens the first phase of Amman’s new downtown Abdali district on Wednesday—a 423-million-US-dollar pedestrian walkway known as “The Boulevard,” covering a 31,740-square-yard (26,539-square-meter) area running through the district and flanked by retail outlets, fashion boutiques, restaurants, cafés, luxury apartments and office spaces.

The 459,269-square-yard (384,000-square-meter) Abdali district—which at a cost of 5 billion dollars is billed as Amman’s biggest mixed-use urban development project to date—will, once complete, function as a residential, commercial and leisure hub, hosting luxury apartments, offices, hotels, malls, retail outlets and recreational facilities.

The Jordanian government is seeking to attract much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI) to the Kingdom through the project as it pursues a series of economic reforms to revive a flagging economy saddled by public debts set to reach 83 percent of GDP by year-end, a large budget deficit and slow growth rates.

The Jordanian economy is also currently buckling under the strain of a steady influx of Syrian refugees, estimated to number in the millions and on which the Jordanian government has already spent some 1.4 billion Jordanian dinars (2 billion dollars) this year.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat in May, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said the country was eyeing an annual 10-percent growth rate in FDI over the next two years, and that parliament was currently debating a new investment bill to help ease investment restrictions in the Kingdom.

Ensour also said FDI in the Kingdom had increased by 1.1 billion Jordanian dinars over 2013, reaching 18.7 billion dinars (99 billion dollars) by year-end.

The Abdali project is being carried out in two phases. The first has been completed and comprises the Boulevard walkway and its surrounding buildings. The second will see the completion of a 35,879-square-yard (30,000-square-meter) central park and surrounding residential, commercial and recreational developments.