Jordan pins hopes on billion dollar Gulf aid package

Saudi Arabia to host Gulf conference on supporting Jordan

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates pledged $2.5 billion in aid to Jordan as the US-allied kingdom faces its worst protests in years over austerity plans that included tax increases.

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Thousands of Jordanians hurt by price hikes took to the streets last week against the government's International Monetary Fund mandated economic policies.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Jordan's King Abdullah, Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Ruler of Dubai, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum watch from the window of Al-Safa Palace in Makkah millions of Umrah pilgrims and visitors thronging the Grand Mosque on Sunday night.

Jordan has been rocked in recent days by mass protests against price rises and a proposed tax hike as the government pushes measures to slash the country's debt, leading to the prime minister's resignation.

She also told a press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi that the European Union has given the crisis-hit country $1.18 billion over three years, and will provide $23.5 million more for social protection programs.

The money from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will go toward a deposit in Jordan's Central Bank, cover World Bank guarantees for the kingdom, offer budget support and finance other development projects.


Jordan's King Abdullah II arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday for a crucial four-nation meeting focused on supporting Amman to tackle an economic crisis in the wake of anti-austerity protests.

Protests engulfed the cash-strapped country earlier this month after the government announced a fuel prices rise of up to 5.5 percent and a 19 percent hike in electricity prices.

"In light of the close brotherly ties... it was agreed that the three countries would provide an economic aid package to Jordan totalling $2.5 billion", the official Saudi Press Agency said.

An unpopular income tax law was also incensing the public until the government withdrew it in the face of the protests.

The World Bank says Jordan has "weak growth prospects" this year, while 18.5% of the working-age population is unemployed.

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