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King urges US angel investors to utilise Jordan’s ICT talent pool

May 14,2014 - Last updated at May 14,2014

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday met with a number of investment leaders from the US Angel Investment Group (AIG) in San Francisco who are interested in funding innovative start-ups around the world.

His Majesty delivered a speech at the “Innovative Jordan” Conference held the same day at the University of California at Berkeley, in which he highlighted Jordan’s creative youth, especially in the ICT sector (see full speech).

Discussions at AIG covered economic cooperation and the possibility of investing in emerging Jordanian companies and transforming them from local to leading regional and international corporations, especially those operating in the telecommunications and ICT sectors, according to a Royal Court statement. 

The King stressed the importance of fostering cooperation and partnership between investors and companies from both countries, inviting American businesspeople to visit the Kingdom to have more insight into its investment experience in light of the "quality" economic environment that is backed by a series of laws and measures that facilitate the mission of investors and help them advance their businesses. 

The Monarch cited the competitive features of the ICT sector and other investment advantages provided by the Jordanian economy as well as the Kingdom's strategic location and the free trade agreement with the US and other strong and emerging economies. 

He noted that Jordan has managed to make many strides in the recent years through transforming challenges into opportunities and building on them, a thing that contributed to creating an attractive investment atmosphere. 

The King also pointed to the benefits provided by Jordan’s geographical location as a gateway into Arab markets, which include more than 350 million customers, and a link between Asia, Africa and Europe.

He invited angel investors to invest in pioneering schemes that have been initiated in the Kingdom. 

Also at the meeting, representatives of six Jordanian companies working in the ICT and telecommunications sectors presented a briefing on their experience in front of 30 leading investors. 

Minister of Industry and Trade Hatem Halawani said that the development witnessed in these sectors had reflected on the rest of Jordan’s economic activities and the volume of exports.

He highlighted incentives provided to foreign investors, especially in development zones, to enable companies to thrive.

ICT Minister Azzam Sleit noted that the government has enacted laws governing the information technology sector, ensuring the availability of a proper infrastructure in line with international requirements. 

For their part, the investors noted that US companies operating in the ICT sector are interested in Jordan’s investment opportunities for they provide the chance to penetrate the rest of the regional market.  

The Angel Investment Group includes a number of international investors who work to develop investments that have the potential of exceptional growth, providing funding to promising start-ups, according to the statement. 

In an interview with the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Mitch Kapor, president of the Kapor Centre for Social Impact, said that there were huge investment opportunities in Jordan’s ICT start-ups.

The Silicon Valley investor noted that the valley’s companies are interested in navigating the Jordanian market.

At the University of California in Berkeley, which hosted a conference for Jordanian ICT and telecommunications investors, King Abdullah met with university Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks and discussed academic and scientific cooperation between the facility and the University of Jordan. 

The King voiced his appreciation of the scientific achievements realised by the University of California at the international level. 

Dirks said the institution will extend all possible support to Jordanian entrepreneurs and provide them with the necessary tools to empower them to contribute to the economic and social development. 

The conference was attended by several representatives from Jordan, including Oasis500 deputy chairman, Marwan Jumaa, Jawad Abbasi, chairman of the [email protected] board and Wael Attili, founder of the Amman-based Kharabeesh Network.

On the sidelines of the event, a documentary was screened featuring the experience of first Jordanian companies operating in the ICT sector and their development to move from the local to regional markets, particularly in the Gulf. 

Established in 1868, the University of California, envisioned as “city of learning”, provides 350 vocational, bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programmes. 

Also on Tuesday, His Majesty met with a number of executive directors of large US companies and discussed ways to further improve bilateral investment ties. 

The King invited the companies’ representatives to visit the Kingdom to familiarise themselves with investment opportunities and cooperate with their Jordanian peers, pointing to the ICT forum for the MENA region, slated to be held in Amman in November. 

The executive directors underlined their keenness to benefit from Jordan’s economic competitive advantages, build partnerships that rely on the competence of  Jordanian manpower.

In an interview with Petra, President of the eBay Inc. John Donahoe stressed that any investment targeting the Middle East should take Jordan’s potential into account due to the economic and political stability it enjoys.

Meanwhile, the Monarch also met with Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, and Mike Cassidy, director of Google[x] project, and talked about  new applications Google is working on. 

The King cited investment opportunities in Jordan’s ICT sector, mainly in the qualified cadres who are capable of developing applications and programmes that go in line with  Arab and regional market needs. 

He noted that Jordan has started to witness a rise in the ICT industry and associated services, especially in the areas of health, education and content industry.

He called Google company to explore opportunities in Jordan, particularly in relation to developing the Arabic web content, of which 75 per cent is managed in the Kingdom.   

On the other hand, King Abdullah paid a visit to the Plug and Play Tech Centre in Sunnyvale, which incubated large US companies, such as PayPal and DropBox. 

The Monarch was briefed on efforts to incubate start-up ICT companies before visiting the Jordanian pavilion at the centre, which includes a number of emerging local companies in the field. 

His Majesty stressed the importance of benefiting from the centre’s experience in supporting entrepreneurs, especially through business incubators and accelerators that provide a suitable atmosphere to develop the ICT sector. 

He underlined the importance of the sector in contributing to the GDP, which currently stands at 12 per cent, adding that it also provides around 80,000 direct and indirect work opportunities.  

Plug and Play’s global network signed an agreement with Umniah mobile operator two years ago to rehabilitate Jordanian companies in California. 


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