Sheikh Mohammed talks to a Jordanian TV station
SM: In the name of Allah. Yes, I met with the new Prime Minister today. It's the first time that he's visited our country since King Abdullah appointed him but we have known him for a long time. He accompanied the King on his last visit to the Emirates and Dubai.
I really don't want to comment on the new government because I still don't know what they're going to do. But historically the peoples and the leaders of Jordan and the Emirates have been friends. There is also great respect for the previous King, King Hussein, as well as for His Majesty King Abdullah, who is both a dear brother and a friend. He is up-to-date and he wants his country to develop. He has the vision, the will, the desire and the ambition, but he needs to have competent teams working for him.
For example, you now have the rich and the poor and investors have lost confidence in you. You might have the money but you don't have the investment.
For example, the Bedouins must have agriculture and livestock - they need them for sustenance. Also, Al Aqaba port - you discovered that the war against Iraq was imminent and that it was necessary to have ports in the region and it shocked me that no boats came to Al Aqaba, which is one of the ports for Jordanian goods and for those who go from Jordan to Iraq. Why didn't the old government take the initiative and prepare for what was coming? Man doesn't have to wait for catastrophes to befall him - he can prepare for these things.
It is also necessary to pay attention to the middle class like the teachers and doctors, we have to know what they want and what they are looking for in terms of giving to and taking from their country.
Your laws must be changed - there's a desire for projects, the King wants them, I am sure that he wants to accomplish more than me, but if an official at no matter which ministry is unsure about an investment there's no way to meet the Minister or the King or the King's advisors, which means that the investor will drop the project instead of implementing it and creating work for people and developing the country.
These projects are good for development and don't tell me there's no budget; my forefathers always looked for alternatives instead of giving up when they faced obstacles in business. When they were dredging the Creek, they borrowed money and the reclaimed land was sold to cover the expenses.
It's true that Dubai had oil for a time, but even now that there's no oil the projects that our country needs have not come to a standstill - we have invested in our country.
Because the King wants this, you must have efficient teams and you must not rely on negative people. This is what Jordan needs. It is necessary to work there and to want to invest in the country.
There are rich Jordanians who can accomplish great things, so why are they investing elsewhere? Because other places give them more investment opportunities and intelligent investors know where to invest their money.
Q: Your Highness, do you think that the fact that Jordan is situated between two ongoing crises with Iraq to its east and Palestine to its west has influenced investment in the Kingdom?
SM: It's true, I know, and I know that you have strong security. The location is not an influence and there's no reason to use it as an excuse. The world's problems will take a long time to solve, so why don't we start working for what we want today or even yesterday?
Q: Your Highness, have you always given this sort of advice to the people in charge of Jordan?
SM: I've always said that you should be frank with people you like, but that it's not important to be frank with people you don't know.
If I'm saying this, it's because I like Jordan and the Jordanian people, you have lots of knowledgeable people and many ideas. I know it's the King's wish, but you also have a lot of bureaucracy - permit me to say that you have a lot of bureaucracy - that is holding you back. You must face your fears.
Q: Thank you, Your Highness.
SM: You're welcome - thank you.Tuesday, February 17, 2004