Jordan: A true model of Arab intellect and drive [Archives:2003/693/Opinion]

December 8 2003

Hassan Al-Haifi
In traveling to any of the other countries of the Arab World, one is bound to start getting into the dangerous world of comparison as to which nation has really managed to get itself on the ball. Of course it will be some time before we can honestly say that Yemen can really be assessed as having gotten its act together. What gives more weight to this presumption is that for all practical purposes, we can really say we have goofed and let ourselves get bogged down into a myriad of trivialities and nonsense that for the most part defy explanation or assume that much reason stands behind our state of being. The truth of the matter is that there is really no sensible logical explanation that justifies what we have let ourselves get into. But then again let us leave Yemen aside for awhile and we are sure that our leadership can find the appropriate solutions to the quagmire of problems, many of which by their very nature defy solution,
In Amman Jordan there is a whole different story that is laid out before us. One is caught with an impressive perception upon setting down on the city's airport. There does not seem to be any hassles in getting processed into the country, save for some of the minor snags that are related to a post 9/11 World, in which any idea of ease and comfort have been thrown out the window in most of the corners of the world. Arabs do not need visas to visit Jordan? That would be only seen as reckless management by the most progressive of our revolutionary juntas, or the most reactionary of archaic monarchies! The drive into the city already turns into a reflection by the viewer of real order and cleanliness, and a well laid out road with ample greenery to the left and right and in the middle of the road. That is just the beginning. Amman is a growing metropolis that clearly tells the world: “Look out world, we are mighty small, but we are here to have our impression well set in, in the minds of our visitors, before they even start to contemplate about their trip home.
Anyone who remembers the short erratic history of the tiny Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will have to remember that what Jordan was able to accomplish in the historical context it had to go through, must be deemed as miraculous. Furthermore one cannot help recall that the late King Hussein Bin Talal was absolutely a phenomenal Head of State, who unquestionably deserved the most elaborate praise he got by the multitudes who came to participate in the last rites before the chivalrous monarch of legendary attainments was laid to rest. If one recalls that fateful day well, the presence of the largest number of heads of states and other dignitaries of the world was clearly testimony to the astuteness, by which the well cultured King Hussein was able to steer a literally empty land to a vibrant society that shouts to the world, “We are small, but we are HERE and you know that well.
What did present itself as the motivation behind the rapid and continuous development of this tiny desert kingdom? Is it oil? No, there is no oil in Jordan. Is it peace and stability? Forget that! Jordan's geographical position on the map couldn't have offered that to Jordan, even if Gabriel was given the mandate over this once arid desert wasteland that is the Northwest extension of the Northern Peninsula desert plains.
No matter how one tries to analyze the dynamic force behind the steady and effective modernization of Jordan, one is bound to realize that for all practical purposes, the Jordanian people and their wise monarch saw to it that it is people who really can make a difference where you are going and how you are going to get there. Yes, only people can turn sour grapes into a delectable sweet beverage (non-alcoholic of course). Yes sir, only people can overcome the agonies of persecution and despair and create a new life for themselves that allows them to say, we know what we must do to get out of the rut of underdevelopment and backwardness.
This observer recalls, in the late 1960s, reading the early memoirs of the late King Hussein, while he has yet to surpass his Third decade in age in the most of trying of times, laying out a surrealistic perception of his troubled domain that was beset with all kinds of challenges. I thought to myself, what is this guy saying. Jordan an empty wasteland faced by enemies literally all around the tiny country becoming a viable productive society? That simply was no more than a figment of opiated imagination. Hussein was not about to allow anyone to make a mockery of his optimism and genuine faith in his people's ability to shut their eyes to the melancholy of fear and insecurity. He told his people his vision for them and they simply just listened and said, what our leader is saying is only the strongest of common sense. If that is how he sees it then we say that is what it shall be. The Jordanian people did not let their king or themselves down. They worked night and day to make the factories produce and the farms to harvest the highest yielding crops. But even more than that, with unprecedented wisdom, the people of Jordan saw the only path towards modernization and development is to get Jordan's people up to par with any modern society, while taking note of the most effective and valuable of traditional values that truly move them over so closer to the side of their Lord Almighty, King Hussein hedged on education and technical rehabilitation of his people and the gamble paid off remarkably.