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Jordan - Arab investors unswayed by Jordan attacks

'The terrorists will not stop us in any way'

Arab and Jordanian business leaders unveiled plans on Friday to bolster investment in Jordan despite this week's suicide bombings that shook the usually stable Middle East nation to its core.

"We are determined to go ahead with our investments across the kingdom. The terrorists will not stop us in any way and we strongly condemn this ugly terrorist act," Bahaeddine Hariri, son of slain billionaire Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, told a news conference.

"We will soon see an increase in the level of investment in Jordan. We believe in Jordan and we have a master plan which we will continue to implement," he said.

Hariri's construction group has poured funds into two real-estate development projects in Jordan that have a paid-up capital of almost half a billion dollars.

In line with the projects the company is building housing compounds outside Amman and in the Red Sea resort port city of Aqaba, in southern Jordan.

The Hariri-owned Saudi Oger construction company is also involved in a mega-project to build a shopping and residential area in central Amman's Abdali neighborhood on the site of the former intelligence headquarters.

"On the day of the blasts the son of Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah signed an agreement with us to become a partner in the Abdali project which will be worth around $1 billion," said Hariri.

At least 57 people were killed in unprecedented suicide attacks on Wednesday against three luxury hotels in Amman claimed by a group led by Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Jordanian fugitive Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Hariri, whose father was killed in a bomb attack in Beirut in February, and the other business leaders said they chose one of the bombed hotels to hold their news conference in a sign of solidarity with Jordan.

He was joined by Mohammad Saker, head of Fastlink, Jordan's first mobile phone operator, Sahel Doodeen of Ayla Oasis Development Company, and fellow Jordanian Ghassan Nuqul, president of a group of construction firms.

A Jordanian economic expert told AFP that the volume of direct foreign investment in Jordan had reached $ 5 billion to $6 billion over the last 10 years.

"This was due to many agreements signed by the government with many Arab and Western countries, as well thanks to the safety and stability which Jordan enjoys," the expert, who declined to be identified, said.

Saker urged Arab investors to "defy the terrorists by increasing their investments in Jordan."

Doodeen said his company had begun to repair the damage at the Grand Hyatt, one of the three hotels devastated in the suicide attacks, which it owns.

"Terrorist attacks don't frighten us," said Doodeen, whose company has invested $1.5 billion in various projects, mostly in the hotel industry, across Jordan over the next seven years.

Tourism is Jordan's second source of foreign currency after remittances from Jordanians working abroad.

Amman,11 14 2005
The Daily Star
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