Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Q: How would a prime minister who is presiding over an economy with over 10% inflation, slow economic growth, failing public education and health services and an inability to execute any important public projects prove his worthiness?

A: Demonstrate his piety.

So, PM Dahabi cancelled a previously agreed upon contract with a British investor who wanted to open a casino in the Dead Sea area. Apparently, the opening of a casino offended his sense of propriety and dignity. He also managed to weasel out of a 1 billion dinar fine which was in the contract in case the government reneged on its end of the deal. The investor forfeited the fine in exchange for 1200 dunums in the Dead Sea and 150 dunums in the Shafa Badran area in northern Amman. A bargain. I mean, even if we paid the billion (and I mean WE in the real sense of the word) it is worth it to save ourselves from the evil of a CASINO.

In our happy kingdom, there is no gambling. Sure, you can put your money in savings account in the bank for less than 1% interest. Why would you do that? For a chance to win the GRAND PRIZE, of course. Why else would you forfeit 80% of your interest?

Or you can buy lottery tickets. The General Union for Voluntary Societies runs a lotto. So does the football federation and the basketball federation. All legal and sanctioned by the government. I mean, randomly choosing a paper with a number on it and hoping that the number matches what a randomized set of numbers is generated by machines is not gambling, is it?

In order to gamble, you need to go very far away. It is a 10 km boat trip from Aqaba to Taba. You can also take a 30 minute flight to Sharm el Sheikh or Cairo. They have casinos there. Of course, I am not saying anything that many of the MP’s feigning indignity over the casino don’t know first hand. But, in our kingdom of virtue, we can’t face up to the truth that people are not angels. Yes, many ministers, parliamentarians, business people and politicians go to Egypt and Beirut to gamble. Of course, none of them have the courage to admit it. Casinos are for countries with governments that have no sense of virtue.

Sure we have sweatshops where tens of thousands of foreign workers are overworked, underpaid and abused. This is ok. In the kingdom of virtue, there are no casinos, because we know what is proper and just. It is the government’s job to decide what is proper and just.

And while we are fretting at whether a project that might create a couple hundred jobs and revitalize a community most famous for having the highest rate to tuberculosis and Leishmaniasis in the country, other things are happening.

The government sold the port of Aqaba for 5 billion dollars. We are assured that this is a good deal. The government is also planning to sell the land on which the King Hussein Medical Center resides for 2 billion dollars. Not to worry. A new medical center will be built in Madouneh, a leisurely two hour drive into the eastern desert. Our people deserve no less.

But what will be done with the billions collected for selling this land? I am willing to bet that it will not reflect on our economy, infrastructure or services. Letting the government control this money is the biggest gamble of all. More on the land business later.


At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot to say "of Kurdish origin" :P

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

Outsource the doggone government, I am willing to settle for paul preimer for gods sake. You call it hypocrisy, I call it drugged and unwilling people. I call it "smart" government and ignorant people.

The ultimate formula: Garbage in=Garbage out, unless we have some kind of recycling mechanism.

I do have a question and I wish that you know the answer: Now that our foreign debt went down by 2.1 billion dollars, and assuming that this will mean 200 million dollars of "extra" money..Where is this money going? Is it gonna go for buliding trailer-truck-like-homes? Or will it go to the social security "net"? And till when can we sustain such policies?

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

One more thing:
1- Phosphate: SOLD.
2- Potash: SOLD.
3- Oil shale: Almost SOLD.
4- Uranium: Almost SOLD.
5- Copper: On the way to be sold.
6- Prospective Oil: 80% to hariri.
7- People: 15,000 enslaved for the national initiative.
8- 1,000,000 expat and growing.
umm, lets leave it here..

At 7:57 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Farah: Yes. How stupid of me to miss this vital piece of information. We can add xenophobia as a good reason not to have a casino.

Mohanned: I don't blame the people. I blame the so-called intellectuals who have nothing to say about any of this foolishness.

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Masalha1 said...

Hello people, I've only been away for less than two months and I come back to find the whole damn country is being auctioned off, if not sold its in the process of being sold what the hell is going? and who is pocketing all these billions? by the time they get done with the auction we will not have any thing left, this can't be right there has to be an explanation to all this , does any one have any idea what the hell is going on?
Another question are we the people of Jordan up for sale too ?
We should be, I assure you who ever buys us will make lots of money since we are the best milking cows on earth.

At 8:11 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

What intellectuals Khalaf? They are all part of the system. They can't critisize the system while their sons and daughters get scholarships to study abroad, they can't critisize the system when they get duty free cars, "makromehs", free medical care abroad and inside the country, and paychecks at the end of the month.

It won't happen, so yes I blame you, me and every jordanian who acts as if nothing is happenning. If we are dependent on the "intellectuals" to take the initiative then we are betting on loosing.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

I agree with you both.

At 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Half brilliant post Khalaf, as I do not agree with the mere idea of a casino although I fully aknowledge the hypocrisy of the people. A Casino is always a place where money is used for laundary and corruption. It has been done in Jericho Casino. To make things more interesting the Jerico casino was named "oasis" which is the same name for the new company that reached an agreement with the previous government on the Jordanian version of casino.
I disagree with Masalha as the country is not sold in an auction. At least an auction is a transparent process for the higher bidder while what we see are sneaky and secret deals with high levels of corruption. What I fear is an increase in the trust gap between people and the state, not the governemnt alone this time.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Batir: I don't think that not having a casino will prevent money laundering and corruption. We seem to be doing well enough without.

At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the King is doing a huge mistake by allowing such foolish acts from Dahabi, 1200 Dunums of Jordanian Land gone for no rational reason other than canceling a deal! WEIN BTINSAREF HAI? seriously, we cant afford such nonsense! if there is no money reserve to pay the investor his money, you stick to the deal, you dont give him your land damn it! hai qimmet il tayaseh

Jordanian Lands that are sold are the ones which complete solomon kingdom's biblical borders which is phase two of Israel's expansion,, wait and see!!

At 5:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

walla w yakhofee bokra they make us like dubai and we forget about it, just like the people of dubai did (actually they love it there! how naive!)

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I missed something, but HOW did the casino project get to that point before Mr. Dahabi (or any other moral Muslim)began to think about the piety of it or the social implications? What did they think a casino was?

This is just wierd. Too many wierd things happening in Jordan too fast. I think people are going to flip out if it keeps up. God help us.


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