Amman, October 2018 – Under the patronage of HRH Crown Prince Al-Hussein Bin Abdullah, HRH Princess Sumaya Bint El-Hassan on Saturday launched the “Commercialization of Innovation: A Driver for Growth in the MENA Region” conference and exhibition held by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Jordan, chairing the AmCham MENA Regional Council, under support from the USAID-funded Jordan Competitiveness Program (JCP).
The conference was attended by ICT Minister Mothanna Gharaibeh, chairman of the AmCham in Jordan Eng. Mohammed Bataineh, deputy undersecretary for international trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, senior vice president for Middle East and Turkey Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and heads of American Chambers of Commerce in Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Palestine and Qatar, as well as about 250 participants of businessmen and women, investors, experts and entrepreneurs from the countries of the region and the United States of America.
During the signing, Eng. Bataineh reiterated AmCham’s commitment to supporting G4 Solutions & Resources in all its future endeavors.
During her participation at the conference, HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan said that the real value of innovation lies in its ability to enhance the way of living of individuals and the community, stressing the importance of science and technology as the two key elements for growth, as well as the importance of harnessing science to meet human needs, especially food, energy and water, as the engine most inviting to innovators to connect to the needs of the market through creativity, design and a better understanding of the nature of economic opportunities.
HRH added that although Jordan is a country with limited natural resources and faces many demographic and environmental challenges, it was able to rapidly grow its human resources while valuing the personal and community innovation.
She called all countries of the region, including Jordan, to apply the knowledge capable of responding to the needs of the market in the 21st century, and to support mechanisms that transform ideas into opportunities and create growth and job opportunities.
Her Royal Highness pointed out that the development of the global economy has created many challenges but opened many opportunities; innovators and small and micro enterprises are able to create a kind of innovation of high added value, which is needed by the global industry. Innovation is a global phenomenon that positively and creatively affects the readiness of institutions, entrepreneurs, industrialists and investors in Jordan and the region.
For his part, Gharaibeh said that Jordan has achieved many successes in the field of information technology and entrepreneurship, both due to the support enjoyed by this sector and through the adoption of policies supportive of the ICT sector. He pointed out that for these reasons, many U.S. companies have started hiring Jordanian talent, including Amazon and Microsoft. He also added that among the reasons for this success is the attention brought to human resources training, and the development of infrastructure supporting entrepreneurs and emerging companies alike.
“Innovation is a key pillar in the business world as the economies of the region are witnessing remarkable diversity in many areas. Innovation in the service and economic sectors, such as health, education and business, has become the focus of decision-makers because of its positive social and economic impact,” said Eng. Bataineh for his part, stressing that the entrepreneurial potential in the region as a whole heralds innovations of great importance.
He added that the conference provided an opportunity to introduce the participants to leading startups in Jordan specifically and the region in general, pointing out that the Kingdom has a unique group of these companies.
Eng. Bataineh said that the conference is a starting point to begin designing a program that interconnects institutions and companies to support innovative projects, in order to transfer knowledge and harness technology to serve many vital sectors. The AmCham in Jordan, as part of its mission, will also organize business trips for startups to showcase their projects to a select group of investors in the United States.
He pointed out that the Middle East region is the least advanced region in terms of trade and that entrepreneurship can help in this area, which requires a lot of focus on research and development. Bataineh said that Jordan has taken major steps in this field to develop education, research and entrepreneurship and enable it to access sources of funding, thus becoming an advanced center for innovation and leadership in the region.
The acting deputy of the American Chamber of Commerce, Sarah Kemp, said that Jordan has been and remains a strong ally and economic partner of the United States, praising the economic reforms undertaken by the Kingdom since the launch of the 2025 Vision and the plan to stimulate economic growth and its opportunities for trade and investment in many sectors including energy, agriculture, health care and smart cities.
She pointed to the role played by the American Chambers of Commerce in the region in providing information about the investment environment in the region, the regulatory environment, the challenges facing the business environment and sharing with the Americans the promoted business opportunities and the United States as an investment opportunity.
She said she had an opportunity to learn how innovation and creativity can be developed through public-private cooperation, citing the example of smart cities that are increasing opportunities for economic growth and creating new jobs around the world, making the environment in these cities and their communities safer and more efficient.
For his part, Tariq Tawfiq, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, said that the region faces a number of challenges, especially the quality of education and digital education, pointing to the need to improve the quality of education to keep abreast of developments and meet the needs of the labor market, with technology playing an important role in all fields and supporting creators and innovators becoming inevitable.
He pointed to the most important challenges faced by the countries of the region, including the creation of job opportunities, population growth, high unemployment rates, water scarcity and environmental challenges, stressing that these challenges require greater investment in technology to reach what he called “inclusive societies”.
During the first day’s sessions, participants discussed a number of topics including the work environment. The first session discussed opportunities and challenges in emerging Middle East markets, legislation and regulations, as well as several successful business models at the local and regional levels.
The second session discussed the funding of MENA startups. Participants highlighted topics related to the gap in funding available to these companies and the role of governments and banks in supporting them.
The participants also discussed the mechanisms of building business in the Middle East region, stressing the importance of having robust legal frameworks that are interconnected with international frameworks to protect investment in innovation, ease of market entry and exit and other business practices in fostering enterprise growth and regional expansions.
Furthermore, a session was dedicated to shed light on key U.S. economic policies that allowed the economy to become the most innovative and successful globally. The participants looked at how large U.S. corporations promote and support external innovations, whilst looking at the lessons learnt from this model as means to bolster growth in the MENA and how special agreements between the U.S. and a number of MENA countries, including Free Trade Agreements, can contribute to sustainable development and regional integration within the MENA region and with the United States.
In addition, an exhibition showcasing innovations by local and regional enterprises was inaugurated on the sidelines of the conference.
About the American Chamber of Commerce in Jordan:
The American Chamber of Commerce in Jordan (AmCham-Jordan), a member of the United States Chamber of Commerce, was established in 1999 as a voluntary not-for-profit member-based organization that contributes to economic development through the promotion of U.S.-Jordan-regional trade and investment, business development, capacity building for the Jordanian producers and exporters, human resources development and business community outreach.
About AmCham MENA Regional Council:
The AmCham MENA Council was established in 2005 to foster and enhance collaboration and cooperation amongst the MENA AmChams and promote greater business opportunities between the United States and the Region. In 2017 Jordan was elected to Chair of the Council during the period 2018 -2020.
The Council holds, among its main activities, a regional annual conference on topics of common interest that serve the integration of markets and sustainable development.