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Jordan can ‘help balance the view of this region’

Jul 01,2015 - Last updated at Jul 01,2015

On June 23 I went to meet Crown Prince Hussein, who was about to turn 21. I found an impressive, engaging young man about to embark on an exciting new chapter in his life as he comes of age.

But as impressive as he was there was something that I will remember more from my afternoon with him.

We were taken to the Queen Rania Children’s Hospital, which was of course set up with support from His Majesty King Abdullah.

There we witnessed pioneering cochlear implant surgery that is helping deaf children to hear.

To see a young boy hear for the first time was a profoundly moving experience; I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear.

The surgeons performing this extraordinary, groundbreaking procedure are from Jordan. It was a typical example of a story that can be overlooked by the world outside this region.

For many outside the Middle East, Jordan is part of a story of crisis.

The turmoil across the borders in Syria and Iraq has, of course, had a major impact on this country — as it has on the entire region.

I travelled to Jordan perhaps a dozen times in the past two decades, both for work and pleasure, and there is no doubt that times are tough right now.

Tourism has been hit hard and this country has borne much more than its fair share of the burden in what has become perhaps the worst refugee crisis in history.

But for all those fleeing broken lives, there are many more here building a better future for this country and the region.

Right now I am half-way through a four-week tour of the region with CNN’s Connect the World programme.

Last week we were in Cairo, where a city and a nation are slowly recovering from a dark and bitter period in its history.

Amman, the second leg of our journey, has no such troubles. There is a sense of calm determination here, and a clear frustration that the region’s troubles have distorted the narrative of a peaceful, progressive, tolerant and cultured nation.

Amman is steeped in history, energy and ideas. From world-class surgeons to vibrant young software developers and top academics, this is a place a world away from the headlines that dominate so many of the international news pages.

These stories, many believe, can also play a vital role in combating the extremism that is plaguing the region.

By demonstrating the vitality, creativity and passion for good here and across the Middle East, these stories can inspire those who might otherwise be drawn into the negative cycle elsewhere.

In a week marred by two more unspeakable tragedies, in Tunisia and Kuwait, this already urgent need has become ever more acute.

Part of why we are undertaking this tour is to make sure those stories get heard. Showing the world the stories of this region, through the prism of the countries we visit is an important part of balancing the narrative here.

But what is abundantly clear is that the international community must play its part too.

Jordan believes it has taken in 1.4 million Syrian people displaced by that country’s civil war since 2001.

It says it has received just 12 per cent of the $1.9 billion aid it needs to bear this burden.

Much like the strain Italy has taken on in Europe, Jordan has borne the impact of the refugee crisis to a disproportionate degree, and by accident of geography alone.

There are so many positive stories, actors and actions in Jordan. I have no doubt that they can raise their voices and help balance the view of this region.

It is in the world’s interest that they do so.


The writer is the anchor of CNN International’s flagship news and current affairs primetime news programme Connect the World. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times. 

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