Jordan needs to transform into a knowledge economy, says TAG-Org founder

09 May 2019 3 min. read

Jordan needs to transform itself into a knowledge economy, says Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, the founder of professional services umbrella TAG-Org.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, the founder and chairman of professional services outfit Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org) – which has more than 100 offices worldwide and provides management consulting among a vast array of services – has spoken on the need for Jordan to transform itself into a knowledge economy, writing in the Jordan Times that the country has a major decision to make.

Dubbed the godfather of Arab accounting (TAG-Org was initially established as an accountancy in Kuwait in 1972, and now includes more than 60 member firms), the highly decorated Abu-Ghazaleh could never be accused of lacking ambition, and in his piece for the Jordan Times states a $280 billion local GDP target by 2040. Today that figure stands at around $40 billion, having roughly doubled over the past ten years.

To get there: transform Jordan into a knowledge economy, argues Abu-Ghazaleh. “We are not dreamers; we are serious about planning for the future and making it happen.” Laying out his case, Abu-Ghazaleh contends that looking toward big industrial countries like China, the US or UK as role models is a waste of time. Rather, he says, Jordan should consider the case of Finland, which provides a more apt comparison.Jordan needs to transform into a knowledge economy, says TAG-Org founder“Finland has a population of 6 million,” he writes. “We both have no natural resources. Finland’s GDP is over $230 billion. There is no reason Jordan cannot reach a GDP level comparable to that of Finland’s, but we need the political will and corresponding political decisions. Unfortunately, governments address short-term issues. Finland has decided to address long-term issues and invented the tools to become a knowledge economy.”

With the largely agriculturally barren country already suffering under the weight of Syrian refugee crisis, and local unemployment levels pushing toward 20 percent, Abu-Ghazaleh points to another effect of the neighbouring conflicts; the closure of borders, which he says makes Jordan like an economic prison. “Without the effective opening of our boarders to Syria and Iraq, the economy will not recover.”

In the absence of that, he argues, the only approach is to go digital, “because the digital economy has no borders.” And Abu-Ghazaleh can speak from a position of authority, having co-chaired the UN ICT Task Force back in 2001, which was concerned with fostering opportunities to bridge the global digital divide, and later serving as the Chair of the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development. TAG-Org has also partnered with Microsoft to explore digital transformation opportunities in Jordan.

“If we take the model of Finland, we do not need the World Bank or the IMF. We will not have a government deficit, nor will we need to take loans. We will not need to worry about demonstrations or unemployment. If we use this model, this is the short and long road to success. This is how we overcome our problems,” Abu-Ghazaleh concludes. “Information technology is a tool, and the knowledge economy is the implementation of that tool for everything in our life.

Related: Jordan ranked ahead of Saudi Arabia on scale-up readiness index