Islamic Development Bank to lend Jordan $200m to buy grain

The bank will also extend $10m to develop tourism businesses in the kingdom

wheat arrives at al-Juwaydeh mills near Amman, Jordan on May 02, 2010. (Salah Malkawi for The National)
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The Islamic Development Bank will give Jordan a $200 million loan to buy wheat and other commodities and increase the kingdom's silo capacity, state television reported on Thursday.

Planning Minister, Nasser Al Shareedeh, and the bank's chairman, Mohammad Al Jasser, signed the loan agreement in Amman, the report said.

The loan will help Jordan to "deal with future fluctuations in the prices of grains", Mr Al Shareedeh said.

He said Jordan had sought the funding to "strengthen the food security system in the kingdom".

Increasing food stocks became a priority in Jordan and other countries in the region after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February put pressure on international supplies.

Jordan, a parched country of 10 million people, imports almost all of its basic food and almost all of its crude oil.

Headquartered in Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Development Bank gives out soft loans, mainly to cash-strapped Islamic states, on Islamic finance principles that differ from outright interest-based lending.

The bank also agreed to lend Jordan $10m to fund small and medium businesses in the tourism sector, state media said.

Tourism, one of Jordan's main sources of hard currency, is picking up after Covid disruptions, with an increase since last year in flights from Europe operated by budget airlines.

Official data indicates that arrivals, which include Jordanian expatriates in the Gulf and other countries, numbered 2.4 million last year compared with 1.2 million in 2020.

The government announced on Thursday that it would spend $42m to repair a section of road from Amman to the Nabataean city of Petra, known as the King's Highway, as part of efforts to encourage tourists to drive through remote villages and towns and discover new destinations in the kingdom.

Updated: September 29, 2022, 3:48 PM