Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela paid his first working visit to the Kingdom of Jordan. This visit to Amman was aimed to strengthen the existent excellent bilateral relations between both countries, whilst building bridges to further enhance commercial relations. This development follows in particular, the successful aftermath of the launch of a direct flight from Malta to Amman in April 2019, with indications that to date it has serviced more than 8,000 passengers.
In this regard, Minister Carmelo Abela met with Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply of Jordan Tareq Hammouri. Minister Abela remarked that the time is ripe for Malta and Jordan to identify new commercial sectors on how they can have more tangible cooperation bilaterally. He mentioned that there were companies in Malta that were seeking to internationalise their business. Minister Hammouri stated that Jordan is trying to guide the private sector to increase trade, to have better numbers, and they are doing highly targeted match making in order to encourage more Jordanian companies to do business with Maltese companies.
Minister Abela also met with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi. They discussed the building of the solid relationships between Malta and Jordan and the identification of new sectors that warrant further exploration, such as in the commercial sector, as well as tourism, particularly in relation to religious tourism and the exploration of the rich cultural heritage both countries had to offer.
Minister Abela also had discussions with Speaker of Jordan’s, House of Representatives Atef Tarawneh. He thanked Minister Abela for pushing forward on an EU and international level the message of peace and security cooperation between the European Union and the League of Arab States. He also called upon the international community to invest in the reconstruction of Syria and to tackle the phenomena of terrorism together. Minister Abela agreed that the international community must be at the forefront of this issue, with the EU taking an ever leading role in tackling the problems taking place in the Middle East.
During his visit, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion visited the Za’Atari Refugee Camp, Jordan, the world’s largest refugee camp for the protection and assistance of Syrian refugees fleeing violence from their country of origin since 2012. The Minister pledged a donation of €25,000 euro towards the running costs of the camp, expressing appreciation for the Jordanian government and UNHCR for the work being undertaken. Run by UNHCR and the Syrian Refugees Affairs Directorate, almost 80,000 refugees reside in this camp with 50%, of the residents being children, 20% of these being under 5 years of age. The centre offers health services, food assistance, community empowerment centres, access to energy, water services, formal and informal education.
Minister Carmelo Abela also met with Sadeen Group, the investors of the American University of Malta. The two parties discussed how as a result of educational programmes based on an American curriculum, the AUM will be adhering to the contract with the Government of Malta so that foreign students are attracted towards the country, with Malta being promoted as an international centre of excellence. Among the things discussed was the challenge that foreign students face, especially in countries where Malta has no representation, to obtain a visa that enables them to study in Malta. Minister Abela remarked that the authorities have to follow all international procedures while providing clear guidelines that facilitate the process.
Minister Abela also took the opportunity to meet with Karl Schembri, the only Maltese national residing in Jordan, working as regional advisor for the Middle East employed by the Norwegian Refugee Council, where they engaged in a lively discussion on the situation in the region.