Jordanian Quality of Life – updated.

When searching “Jordan” on Google, the first two results from Wikipedia are “Michael Jordan” and “Katie Price”; the glamor model famous for her boobs that calls herself “Jordan”. Just a side note.

I am going to touch on an important issue here. Have you ever read the article on Jordan in Wikipedia? One word: ABSURD. It is clearly a government fabrication done by this new pro-government social networking team we have on YouTube and Twitter promoting Jordan for some reason.

I will be focusing on the “Quality of Life” section. You can click here to read it. I’ve lived in Amman for 18 years and I think I’ve earned the right to toss my two cents on the quality of life in Jordan.

Jordan, in general, has a terrible outdated infrastructure. Our infrastructure was probably terrible ten years ago, when the population was around 4.8 million. According to the 2010 census, our population is now 6.2 million. The Capital Governate, Amman has the highest concentration (around 2 million). At the moment, the streets of Amman cannot tolerate the current population. Our telephone lines suck and we are still using DSL technology for our Internet. Jerash literally had no water supply two weeks ago!

It is evident that the general population is nowhere near happy. Sadly due to the lack of freedom of speech, they always act “proud”. You will not truly sense what the population is suffering from unless you have a good 15 minute ride in a cab and talk with the driver. This kind of attitude will only worsen the problem, as everyone is turning a blind eye to our real core issues.

In the 2008 Quality of Life Index, Jordan was ranked as having one of the highest qualities of life in the Arab World. Jordan also has one of the highest standards of living in the developing world with a highly educated population with access to advanced healthcare services in urban and rural areas. Jordan ranked as having the 11th highest standard of living in the developing world and the second highest standard of living in the Arab and Muslim World as measured by the Human Poverty Index-2. Also, Jordan ranked in the top 30 nations worldwide, including developed countries, according to the Human Poverty Index-1. This was a major accomplishment of Jordan being that it ranked higher than the much more affluent Persian Gulf states, like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Above is the opening paragraph of the Quality of Life section. It seems to me that whoever wrote the article (perhaps a government employee) is brainwashed to think that we have achieved enough in terms of quality of life. We are comparing ourselves with other third world countries, and bragging that we are the best of the worst. What a blatant attempt to compensate for our sad pathetic situation.

Furthermore, the article continues to spread propaganda that Jordan has a “highly educated population”. If we have a highly educated population, why do employers struggle to find decent employees that can at least understand and write English? Only the top 5% of the population are “highly educated”.

The article then continues to advertise Jordan as a “clean and secure” country. Jordanians run around bragging how clean and secure their country is. Can we stop believing those lies and actually focus on something that will benefit our lives other than “our city is cleaner than yours”?

Why is Jordan “secure”? Because we are only 6 million people, with Mokhabarat (General Intelligence Department) everywhere and no one really cares about us. To the global society, we are just a burden consuming resources and not contributing. No one cares about Jordan and many do not even know where Jordan is. Yes, I call that ignorance, but we have NOT earned our place in the global society.

One sentence that pisses me off is, “Jordan is one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East”. I am sorry but anyone who lived in Jordan for just one year will know that Jordan is NOT a liberal country! Although you can say Amman is pretty liberal compared to other cities int the Middle East. How can a country be “liberal” when it has a high honor crime rate?

Furthermore, Jordanians hold their political leadership in very high esteem. According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, 91% of Jordanians held their king in high esteem making King Abdullah II the most popular political leader in the Middle East.

I am sorry but I am not very sure about that. I am sure half of the votes were out of fear. People are simply unhappy with everything. That comes from my interaction with the population.

Jordan spends 4.2% of its GDP to guarantee the well being of its citizens- more than any other country in the region.

No one mentions corruption here? Its funny how such an article turns another blind eye on corruption. The word corruption is only mentioned five times in the article when we all know how corruption and “wasta” is bad in Jordan! This is evidently a propaganda article. 4.2% of its tiny GDP goes to the well being of its citizens, which I am almost certain more than half just “disappears”.

Wherever I go around Amman, whether its a supermarket or to have a haircut, people are complaining about the quality of life, their financial situation, the government and the whole system that the country is running on. People are sick and tired and need real change.

We, Jordanians, “imsad2een 7alna” with our top intelligence department and our military that has no achievements. It’s time to forget all this “7aki faddi” and concentrate on what makes us one of the worst economies in the world and try to improve ourselves. Yes, we do lack the resources that our neighbors possess, but so does Japan who not only lacked resources, but got nuked by the world’s superpower. We need a committed government, with a committed, intelligent and un-corrupt Prime Minister who will lead us, with a clean background that will direct us as a country towards a better situation. We need someone who gets appointed because he aspires for leadership and change, not because prime ministry runs in the family. For example, Obama was truly dedicated for CHANGE. We need such a figure.

I am sorry folks, we have to face the truth. Otherwise, we will never fix our problems. The first step in problem solving is to identify the problem. I hope this helps some of our fellow Jordanians what our true situation is and work towards progressing it.

Although this sounds as if I hate Jordan, please do not get me wrong. I love my country and I love my people. I know I was harsh, but it times to shake our citizens up a little. I believe that we have too many articles, songs, poems and such, in which we praise our selves and boost our confidence with no basis. We have real issues and it’s time to find concrete solutions. It’s time for someone to shed light on our problems for once. It’s time to talk about our negative aspects and try to fix them. Jordan needs reform in the way it is run and the way people think. A cultural reform I must say. People should stop criticizing the country and saying that we’re good for nothing. Yes we’re only six million people, but across the border, 5 million Israelis already have nuclear weapons, and top science research facilities. It’s time to realize we have real problems and that it’s time to find solutions and act upon. The way Japan reformed itself post-World War II and the way countries like Sweden reformed themselves. We are a small country of 6 million people in a region that is highly politicized and rife with conflict. It would be way more beneficial for the welfare of our citizens if we establish peace with everyone, and direct all our military spendings towards other areas that would be more beneficial for us. If the U.S wanted to attack us, it would literally take 3 planes in 2 hours to completely destroy us. So why keep all those useless confidence-boost symbols when our own citizens are suffering?

I appreciate any comments/feedback.

Telecom in Jordan

Everyone has been going nuts on the Zain vs. Orange advertisements on the Apple products. I think it is very important to analyze the telecom market in Jordan as the world is ongoing a smartphone revolution at the moment, and the major players in the game will be determined in the coming years.

In 2007, Apple announced the iPhone – a phone that would supposedly revolutionize the smartphone industry. After Apple announced the iPhone, the world has realized how backward and unusable our phones were and a revolution was imminent. Apple has triggered a phone revolution.

All manufacturers had started the race towards producing better smartphones. Even companies like Samsung and LG (who always had fancy hardware but terrible software) starting improving their smartphones, and enhancing their email and social networking capabilities. Later down the road, Google’s CEO quit Apple’s board and Google joined the club. This left us with three major software smartphone manufacturers: Apple, RIM (BlackBerry) and Google. Apple and BlackBerry have proprietary software, and therefore manufacture their own handsets while Android is open source and many hardware manufacturers like Samsung, Motorla, LG and HTC have started making Android phones. Yes, Nokia is the leading mobile phone manufacturer in the world, however I do not believe it earned a name as a part of the top major smartphone manufacturers.

The #1 country in this revolution is obviously, the United States. An image below shows how other countries such as the U.K, still have a majority of the Symbian OS as the leading smartphone OS. Therefore, I assume it is fair to say the the U.S is leading the revolution. Google and Apple are both American companies, and RIM’s biggest market is the United States. Furthermore, according to AdMob, iPhone users in the U.S are around 10 million, and iOS users are about 18 million. The second country behind is the U.K with only 2 million iPhone users and 3.7 million iOS users. (source: http://blog.nelso.com/2010/06/iphone-os-penetration-by-country.html)

As a small developing country with only 6 million people, these numbers are far from Jordan’s reach. The majority of Jordanians do not own a smartphones. As a matter of fact, 60% of the Jordanian population pay 7 JD or less per month for the phone and are on prepaid lines. The GDP per capita in Jordan is around $5,000 while in the United States its around $45,000, where most people have a two-year carrier contract. It is very rare for me to walk here in the U.S, and find someone not using some sort of smartphone (mainly an iPhone, Blackberry or an Android).

The market here is highly competitive and smartphones often brand themselves with a carrier. You never find “Abu Ahmad Link”, or may I say “John Link”, since everyone can afford (and would prefer) to buy a subsidized $200 phone and gain the benefits of an awesome service and warranty. No one wants a used $15 phone. You only visit an AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile store. Smartphones are usually branded with carriers. For example, iPhone = AT&T. That’s it. Apple carries out a marketing campaign alongside AT&T advertising both. The Motorola Droid is Verizon, the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate is AT&T, BlackBerry Bold with T-Mobile and AT&T. The logo of the carrier is often printed on the handset.

When a smartphone is branded with a carrier, the smartphone manufacturer often subsidizes the phones. I bought both, an iPhone 3GS and then a BlackBerry Bold 9700 both for $199 (140 JD’s). The only “trick” is that I need to sign up with a two year contract with them. That way, over the course of two years they will actually cover the cost of the phone (~$600). For some reason, people here are ethical and rarely try to get around the two-year contract and appreciate the service they are paying for (that’s because its actually a GREAT service). Most don’t even have time to waste on saving $100 or $200, and instead focus on how to make money. The social security number shows how reliable one is, so no one wants to jeopardize that anyway. In Jordan, we have no social security number that matters and records all your moves, and our society is filled with unethical scammers that are willing to dedicate all their time in ways to go around to save say, 10 JD a month, instead of actually work towards something productive and make 200 JD a month extra (one could argue the reasoning behind that is there are almost no chances or opportunity in Jordan).

An example of how competitive the market is, is the killer campaigns that both Verizon and AT&T carry on each other. They hire top marketing analysts that analyze the market and create campaigns that cost millions of dollars to convince the consumer that they are a better network. They refer to each other by name, and compare both networks. Their campaigns often revolve around their strength vs. their competitor’s weaknesses.

We are not used to that in Jordan or even in the Arab world. Therefore, when Orange and Zain both put up their indirect but obvious ads, everyone was shocked and every single blogger had to write a post on the issue. Now lets compare both the Jordanian campaign and the American campaign. The American campaign stated clear and true facts comparing both networks. In Jordan, they are only fighting on “Apple products”. I find this quite pathetic. because I doubt Apple is interested in any revenue generated in Jordan. The number of people who pay over 40 JD per month on their phone bill are about 2-3% of the population (according to a study in July 2010). The only reason Orange officially offers the iPhone (which sells it at outraging prices, and the plans are almost monetary equivalent to U.S plans, which is RIDICULOUS compared to the average Jordanian income) is that the mother company, Orange worldwide (France Telecom) signed a deal with Apple for the iPhone. Orange Jordan gets the latest iPhone around 6 months late! The iPhone cycle is typically 12 months, meaning 6 months after its release a new phone will be released by Apple! Basically they are both gambling with their luck. Orange wasn’t given exclusivity because it earned it, but for the mere fact that it’s part of France Telecom – who gained exclusivity. It has no leverage! Apple could go tomorrow and sign a deal with Zain and just kill the whole campaign between both companies.

Both Orange and Apple would kill for any opportunity given to them by Apple. Sadly, Apple has no time to negotiate deals separately with small entities (potential users in each company would not go over 15,000) and would only negotiate with the bigger owner (such as Zain in Kuwait or Orange in France). And therefore, Orange and Zain will never get to directly negotiate deals. I also believe that Apple is not willing to subsidize smaller franchises and would rather to give the larger subsidy to larger Orange franchises with an actual market, for example in France, Israel, United Kingdom etc…

Instead of focusing on something that is not within your power, and Orange’s iPhone exclusivity is just a matter of luck and not as a result of their hard work and excellent network, they should both run campaigns against each other targeting ACTUAL facts about their own companies and not Apple! For example, Zain could boast how good their customer service is as opposed to Orange. Orange on the other hand, could campaign on its pathetic 3G network (the United States is ready to install LTE fourth generation in 2011) and how slow Zain’s EDGE is.

As for Umniah, I am not going to even start. I worked at Umniah as an intern last summer, and they are JUST about to launch Blackberry (which has been in the United States for more than 10 years now).

We should face reality and stop thinking that we are part of that worldwide revolution. In Arabic “ma 7ada dari 3anna”. I would suggest that both companies would focus their efforts on improving their networks, gaining economies of scale and lowering their prices, and actually fixing our terrible infrastructure. I realize that the government is a big obstacle in front of all that, but those two telecom “giants” in Jordan are not even putting any effort towards improving Jordan’s telecom. I realize that we have a great challenge, and that poverty in Jordan is everywhere, but those companies should stop acting like AT&T and Verizon who are in the world’s highest GDP per capita country, and realize that we are a third world developing country with huge challenges infront of us.

Apart from the problem that manufacturers will not be willing to subsidize the Jordanian market, the government is a huge obstacle in the development of our telecommunications market.

Welcome!

Welcome to Society Reboot!

This is my first post here – I will probably write a few posts before polishing the website up.

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