King Abdullah of Jordan spent more than $600 million to develop ‘eco-village’ in the desert

In Jordan, where poverty is “a real issue,” Jordan’s King Abdullah traveled the world seeking to bolster Jordan’s economy through aid, according to The Times of London.

The king, who began visiting Jordan in 1997, received funding from an international organization for projects such as a film studio in Amman, a major hospital in the country’s south, an airport and airports in Jordan’s northern and southern territories, and up to 40 multi-million dollars solar power plants. One of those projects, presented as a concrete contribution to boosting the country’s economy, is a 10,000-home development in a desert near the Palestinian city of Al-Ram. There are reports of his occasional “fly over” trips in an Aston Martin, with up to eight aides in the car. King Abdullah has used Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s civil war as building blocks of his $10 million homes, and D.C. fashion magazines have published photos of him and his wife at local malls.

“Money from this program will be used in an area affected by water crisis in southern Jordan, which currently suffers high levels of water shortages,” the King Abdullah II Foundation website said.

An initial investment of $20 million had been made by a nonprofit charity, “Kiss of Life” to develop the 1,300 acres of land in Jordan to make the “the world’s first sustainable, climate-resilient, people-friendly eco-village,” the website explained. In 2005, King Abdullah introduced a $500,000,000 program called “Future Plan 2020” to develop a number of economic and environmental projects across Jordan, aimed at expanding the economy, increasing jobs and securing economic stability.

Jordan has received considerable international attention for continuing to provide shelter to the nearly 3 million Syrian refugees the country has taken in, many of whom have nothing but the clothes on their backs. Nearly 500,000 Syrian refugees are estimated to live in Jordan today, and 16,000 new ones entered the country each month last year, costing Jordan $1.3 billion in 2016, according to an economist in Jordan. Despite the considerable influx of refugees, Jordan is still suffering a lack of housing. In an interview with The Times of London in August 2014, then British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “You cannot solve a housing shortage, but you can make sure that the money spent on housing doesn’t create a housing shortage through the construction of 50,000 more or whatever houses that you need for shelter.”

Only 16 percent of the population of Jordan is of Palestinian descent, according to a study by the International Crisis Group released in April 2018. Two years earlier, in 2014, the United Nations stated that Jordan’s Arab-Muslim population “appears to be declining rapidly.”

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