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Open Sesame: particle accelerator project brings Middle East together
30 August 2016 - In a region racked by conflict and tension, an ambitious research centre is fostering cooperation and scientific advancement. In the sleepy hillside town in al-Balqa, not far from the Jordan Valley, a grand project is taking shape. The Middle East's new particle accelerator -- the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications, or Sesame -- is being built. The site is due to be formally inaugurated next spring, with the first experiments taking place as early as this autumn. It's a miracle it got off the ground in the first place. (more)

Jordan: Archaeologists discover massive Petra monument that could be 2,150 years old
9 June 2016 - Archaeologists have found a monumental structure buried under the sands of Petra, according to a new study that drew on satellite imagery to scan the ancient city. Petra was built by Nabateans more than 2,000 years ago. 'To my knowledge, we don't have anything quite like this at Petra,' said Christopher Tuttle, an archaeologist who has worked at Petra for about 15 years and a co-author of the paper [on the discovery]. Tuttle collaborated on the research with Sarah Parcak, a self-described 'space archaeologist' from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who used satellites to survey the site. (more)

UAE's Masdar to invest $300 mln in Jordan solar project
19 January 2016 - Abu Dhabi green energy firm Masdar is investing around $300 million in a solar power project in Jordan, with more investments planned across the Middle East and North Africa, its chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday, 19 January. The company aims to double its total generating capacity in the next five to ten years, Ahmad Belhoul said. (more)

Christmas tree lit up at holy Christian site in Jordan aiming to send message of peace
14 December 2015 - Jordanians celebrated the upcoming Christmas festivities by lighting up a 12-metre tree at the site some Christians believe is the location of Jesus' baptism. The event aimed at sending a message of peace, Bishop Munib A. Younan, the president of the Lutheran World Federation, said. 'It is a national day when we are lighting this tree to tell the world that living together Muslims and Christians is possible,' he said. (more)

Jordan: King to meet US President in California in February
29 January 2014 - The Royal Palace says Jordan's King will meet US President Barack Obama in California on 14 February for talks on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, Syria, and ways to boost traditionally strong political, economic, and security ties. Announcing Abdullah II's tour, the palace says the monarch will continue on to Washington, where he is also scheduled for meetings with Congressional leaders, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious groups. (more)

Britain's Prince of Wales visits with Syrian refugees at UN camp in Jordan
13 March 2013 - On 13 March, Prince Charles of Wales and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, met with United Nations staff assisting Syrian refugees in a camp in Jordan during a visit that coincided with urgent calls from the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for emergency funding to aid more than one million Syrian refugees and another two million people displaced inside Syria. The heir to the British throne praised the relief efforts and expressed 'enormous respect for what Jordan and the humanitarian community have done for refugees ... The Jordanian people are truly remarkable in what they manage to cope with.' (more)

Jordan's feed-in-tariff for renewable energy is an Arab World first
10 December 2012 - Jordan is the first country in the Arab world to offer its residents an opportunity to earn money through feed-in-tariffs (FITs). The Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) announced last week that citizens of one of the world's most fuel-deprived nations can sell energy generated with solar panels for 120 fils per kilowatt/hour (kw/h) and wind power for 85 fils per kw/h, The Jordan Times reports. Albeit seemingly insignificant, the move is expected to mitigate the dual problems of excess energy consumption and unfulfilled demand. (more)

Jordan names ambassador to Israel after 2 years vacancy
9 October 2012 - Jordan's King Abdullah II has appointed a new ambassador to Israel, filling a post vacant for two years despite diplomatic relations between the two countries since 1994. The government says the King swore in Walid Obeidat during a brief ceremony late on Monday. Obeidat is a seasoned foreign ministry diplomat who hails from a prominent tribe from northern Jordan. (more)

Jordan's King Abdullah pushes parliament to widen election law
28 June 2012 - Jordan's King Abdullah instructed parliament on Thursday to reconvene next month to amend a controversial election law that has provoked Islamist disaffection and a potential boycott of polls that could deal a blow to democratic reforms. Unlike demands for ousting longstanding rulers in popular uprisings that have swept the Arab world, protests in Jordan have focused on holding free elections and fighting corruption. The king is viewed as a unifying force and arbiter among competing tribes from the East Bank and Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin from the West Bank. (more)

Jordan: Investbank supports organic farming by signing MoU with Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature
5 March 2012 - In line with its Corporate Social Responsibility objectives of raising public awareness on preserving the environment, Investbank recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) to plan and develop organic farming in the Ajloun area of Jordan. According to the MoU, the project will help small local farmers in Ajloun to grow organic produce as a new form of agriculture that will enable them to earn a better living, while protecting the environment and the surrounding forests. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Ancient Petra sees few visitors as Jordan tourism declines
31 March 2015 - It's high season in Petra, the ancient city hewn from rose-colored rock and Jordan's biggest tourist draw. Yet nearby hotels stand virtually empty these days and only a trickle of tourists make their way through a landmark canyon to the Treasury building where scenes of one of the 'Indiana Jones' movies were filmed. Petra's slump is part of a sharp decline in tourism as Jordan's economy pays a price for regional turbulence. A quick recovery appears doubtful as neighboring Syria and Iraq sink deeper into violence and Islamic State militants continue to control large areas of both countries. 'We are not optimistic for 2015,' said Ahmad Amarat, manager of the 95-room Kings' Way Hotel near Petra, which closed four months ago after an average occupancy rate of 28 percent for 2014, compared to 95 percent in 2010. The tourism troubles are just one of a series of challenges Jordan's economy has faced since the outbreak of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, even though the kingdom experienced little unrest. (more)

Deadly Syrian protest in Jordan camp
6 April 2014 - The United Nations said Sunday it is alarmed at the 'violent nature' of a demonstration in a massive Syrian refugee camp in Jordan that killed one person and wounded dozens. Saturday's deadly protest in the sprawling Zaatari camp reverberated around the region as international aid agencies and host governments struggle to cope and manage millions of Syrians who have fled the 3-year-old conflict and sought shelter in neighbouring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. In a statement, the UN refugee agency said a 'heated demonstration' in Zaatari turned to 'a violent one' after possibly thousands of refugees started throwing rocks at a police post inside the camp. The protest started over a refugee family being held there after police detained them and a driver who tried to smuggle them out, the UNHCR said. Police fired tear gas and there were reports of live ammunition being used, the statement said. Three Syrian refugees were sent to hospital with gunshot wounds and one has since died, the UNHCR said. The statement said 28 policemen were wounded in the protest. Nine tents and five mobile homes were burnt, the agency said. (more)

Syrians stuck at Jordanian border
24 May 2013 - Thousands of people are gathering in villages in southern Syria, unable to seek refuge in Jordan because of insecurity along the border or, according to some, new Jordanian security measures. In Nasib village, just 2km from one of four border crossings between Jordan and Syria, there are 10,000 displaced people waiting to leave Syria, according to village imam Abu Omar. He said government security forces abandoned the village 'long ago'. The area surrounding the village is very tense, with the sound of heavy artillery 'louder than ever', according to a local Jordanian newspaper. On several occasions in recent months, the surroundings of the village have been shelled or hit by gunfire. Just yesterday, Abu Omar said, a rocket fell in the village, causing minor injuries. Despite the insecurity, he said, for the last seven days, Syrians attempting to cross the border have been turned back, told by border officials that the Jordanian intelligence services are currently refusing any entry, except emergency medical cases. (more)

Jordan staggers under fallout of Syria conflict
3 February 2013 - Jordan has every reason to worry about the conflict in Syria, its bigger neighbour to the north. A flood of Syrian refugees and disrupted trade due to the 22-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad burden a frail economy that has already had to turn to the IMF. Any emergence of Islamist rule in a post-Assad Syria could embolden Islamists who are the main opposition group in Jordan. And rising Islamist militancy among Syrian insurgents threatens the security of the Western-backed kingdom next door. Jordan also frets that protracted sectarian turmoil might shatter Syria's territorial integrity, with incalculable results for its neighbours in an already volatile Middle East. 'The challenge we have is that the longer this conflict goes on, the more the country will implode,' King Abdullah said last month, describing any fragmentation of Syria as 'catastrophic and something we would be reeling from for decades to come'. (more)

Riot breaks out in Syrian refugee camp in Jordan
8 January 2013 - Syrian refugees in a Jordanian camp attacked aid workers with sticks and stones on Tuesday, frustrated after cold, howling winds swept away their tents, and torrential rains flooded muddy streets overnight. Police said seven aid workers were injured. The refugees may be about to face even deeper misery with warnings of a major snowstorm threatening Jordan and Turkey. The riot broke out after the region's first major winter storm this year hit the Zaatari refugee camp, home to nearly 50,000 refugees in Jordan's northern desert. Inside the camp, pools and lakes surrounded tents, stranding refugees, including pregnant women and infants. Fadi Suleiman, 30, said camp conditions were 'worse than living in Syria,' where rebels are fighting a civil war against authoritarian ruler Bashar Assad that has killed some 60,000 people. 'It's one misery after the other as the international community sits idle, doing nothing to help us get rid of the tyrant Assad,' he said. (more)

Child deaths and bitter cold in Syrian refugee camps
16 December 2012 - Zaatari, a tented refugee camp in north Jordan, houses at least 32,000 refugees who escaped fierce bombardment in Syria's rebellious southern province of Deraa, cradle of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Mirroring Syria's youthful population, almost 65 per cent of Jordan's camp residents are newborns and young children. Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey each host more than 130,000 registered refugees, and relief workers predict the numbers will only increase as violence escalates around Syria's capital Damascus. While aid teams were racing to improve conditions at Zaatari, there were 100,000 other registered refugees living outside the camp and probably another 100,000 unregistered, whose living conditions were not improving. In Lebanon, too, host to 154,000 refugees, many face a bleak winter, and aid workers expect their numbers to more than double by the middle of next year. Across the region, aid workers fear an explosion in violence could leave them seriously overstretched. (more)

Government backers, police, attack Jordan protest, 1 dead
25 March 2011 - Protesters demanding reforms clashed with government supporters in the center of Jordan's capital on Friday, pelting each other with stones until security forces charged in and beat protesters, killing one, as unrest intensified. The clashes, in which more than 100 were injured, were the most violent in more than two months of protests inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and the death was the first of a protester since the unrest began. Noor Smadi, 23, said she was beaten by police until 'I fainted.' 'Our Cabinet is a bunch of criminals,' she said. 'They had policemen beat us savagely, although we insisted that our protest was peaceful.' (more)

Jordanians share Palestinian despondency on peace
29 November 2009 - Outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, despair at the failure of years of US-led Middle East peacemaking is perhaps felt nowhere more keenly than in Jordan. Jordan, a small aid-dependent country with many Palestinians among its 6 million people, has for years hitched itself to Washington in the hope that its U.S. ally would one day cajole Israel into accepting Arab demands for an end to occupation and the emergence of a Palestinian state in exchange for peace. President Barack Obama's failure to secure his own demand that Israel stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is seen here as a humiliating sign that US diplomacy can never achieve the far harder goal of a two-state solution. (more)

Jordan King dissolves Parliament, calls election
24 November 2009 - Jordan's King Abdullah has dissolved Parliament halfway through its four-year term and called for early elections, state television reported Monday. No reason was given for the King's sudden decision, but the Assembly had been accused of inept handling of legislation and there had been speculation it might be dissolved. Liberal politicians say the move could herald a wider government shake-up to ward off popular disenchantment over economic contraction after years of growth, and allegations of official graft. Many politicians have accused Prime Minister Nader Dahabi's government of mismanagement as it grappled with the impact of the global downturn on the aid-dependent economy and a rise in public debt to record levels. (more)

Jordan: Many children exposed to aggressive behaviour - study
14 July 2008 - Over half of Jordanian children [between the ages of six and 18] are physically abused or exposed to some form of aggressive behaviour by their parents or school teachers, according to a recent study by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). Whether at home or at school, abuse has become commonplace. Experts say the phenomenon is hard to fight because parents do not mind their children being physically abused, and Gender and Child Protection Officer Maha Homsi said the problem was on the rise. (more)


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