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King praises Ramtha residents’ generosity towards Syrians, promises more investments


By Mohammad Ghazal , The Jordan Times


RAMTHA — His Majesty King Abdullah said on Wednesday he will continue to work domestically and internationally to increase trade and investment opportunities, adding that he highly values Jordanians’ generosity in supporting Syrian refugees.
Addressing residents and notables from Ramtha during a visit to the district, some 90 kilometres north of Amman, King Abdullah said: “You represent an example of the generous Jordanians who received refugees in their houses and shared with them their food and even your public parks that used to be a vent for you.”
At the meeting, the King referred to the economic challenges the residents of the district went through over the past year, adding that he was fully aware of these challenges, such as unemployment, rise in rent costs as well as pressure on several services.
“We will work on addressing all these issues, in addition to the problem of houses that were affected by developments near our borders,” the King said.
Situated just a few kilometres away from the Syrian border, Ramtha was one of the first areas to welcome Syrian refugees fleeing the violence that erupted in their country. The population of Ramtha district increased from 80,000 in 2011 to over 150,000 by 2015, according to official figures.
His Majesty voiced appreciation for Ramtha district, noting that in spite of the many challenges it completed significant projects.
He noted that he was aware that the allocation under the decentralisation scheme for the Ramtha district was increased for building new schools and reducing the number of rented buildings, and directed the concerned officials at the Royal Hashemite Court to implement more initiatives and income-generating projects in the district and study its needs.
Referring to his recent visit to Iraq, King Abdullah said: “The visit was promising and we will continue exerting efforts domestically and externally to increase trade and investment opportunities while working with brotherly countries around us and our friends around the world.”
On the way to his meeting with Ramtha representatives, His Majesty, who turned 57th on Wednesday, was welcomed by crowds who lined up across several streets, while holding pictures of the King and waving flags.
Senior incumbent and former officials, as well as representatives of various sectors, in Ramtha said they highly valued the King’s visited to the district, highlighting some of its key priorities.
They underlined the need for reopening the Ramtha-Daraa border crossing, noting that it would help increase trade exchange and boost businesses in various sectors, not only in Ramtha, but across the Kingdom.
Former minister Hashem Shboul reviewed some of the district’s needs, including the establishment of a military hospital and implementing several infrastructure projects in various sectors.
Akef Zu’bi, another former minister, said the district suffered immensely due to the closure of borders with neighbouring countries over the past years, which was negatively reflected on employment opportunities. He also referred to pressures on several sectors in the district, such as education and health.
Some of the demands by the district’s residents included developing infrastructure, expanding healthcare facilities, building new schools and implementing income generating projects.
Khaled Shogran, director of Al Rai Centre for Studies and Training, stressed that the presence of a large number of Syrian refugees increased pressure on the country’s limited resources.
He said the expansion of the Ramtha public hospital was one of the key demands by the district’s residents, calling for building a comprehensive youth centre to empower the youth and increase their involvement in the society.
At the meeting, Royal Court Chief Yousef Issawi announced that several Royal Initiatives will be implemented in the district in the fields of health and education, in addition to income-generating projects.
He added that several houses will be built for underprivileged families in the district upon instructions by His Majesty, and around 200 income-generating projects for youth and women will be supported as part of an initiative in cooperation community organisations to empower limited-income families.
According to Issawi, a public park will be created in the area that includes a cultural centre for children, playgrounds and training facilities.
The Royal Court chief noted that Royal Initiatives planned across the Kingdom during the upcoming stage will focus on income-generating projects that create job opportunities to improve families’ incomes.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Rajai Muasher said the government will look into the demands by Ramtha’s residents in coordination with Irbid Governorate Council. 
He added that several projects are in the pipeline for the district.

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