Last updated in March 2018
Germany has long enjoyed close and friendly political relations with Jordan. In many areas, Germany is one of the most important partners of this country, which in 1994 was the second Arab state to conclude a peace treaty with Israel and is actively engaged, both within the region and internationally, in efforts to secure a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict. Beyond the political arena, the two countries also work together successfully in development cooperation as well as in the economic, academic and cultural sectors. In addition, Bundeswehr units have been stationed in Jordan since October 2017.
The numerous visits to Jordan by German politicians and the trips to Germany by Jordanian politicians testify to these close relations. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen was in Jordan in May 2017 and again in January 2018. Germany’s then Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visited the country in April 2017, as did the current Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and the current Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in March 2018. In addition, Germany’s then Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt paid a visit to Jordan in March 2017. In October 2016, Queen Rania called for more empathy during a speech at the Day of German Industry in Berlin. Also in October 2016, King Abdullah II received the Peace of Westphalia Prize in Münster. The citation was delivered by then Federal President Joachim Gauck, who lauded King Abdullah II’s commitment to achieving peace and providing asylum to refugees. King Abdullah II held talks with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin in 2016. In September 2015, Queen Rania was awarded the Walther Rathenau Prize in Berlin for her foreign policy engagement. The citation was delivered by the Federal Chancellor, who paid tribute to Queen Rania as a “bridge builder” among cultures and nations.
Four of Germany’s political foundations have their own offices in Jordan: the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Economic relations and development cooperation
Bilateral trade is a key element in economic relations between Germany and Jordan. Germany’s main exports to Jordan are mechanical engineering and automotive products, technical facilities, chemical and pharmaceutical products and food. In 2016, German exports to Jordan were worth approximately 716 million euros, compared with Jordanian exports to Germany amounting to around just 24 million euros. As a supplier of imports, Germany is Jordan’s most important European trading partner, along with Italy.
There are good investment opportunities for German companies in the renewable energy, service, health care and tourism sectors as well as in green technologies (e.g. waste recycling). The German Water Partnership has selected Jordan as one of its focus countries. However, the volume of direct investment is at present still modest.
An investment protection and promotion agreement between Germany and Jordan has been in place since August 2010.
Development cooperation plays a major role in German-Jordanian relations. Germany is one of the biggest bilateral donors, along with the United States. Bilateral cooperation focuses on the water sector. Jordan is one of the world’s poorest countries in terms of available water resources per capita. The large number of refugees in Jordan is currently putting additional pressure on the country’s already scare resources and severely strained water infrastructure. Besides short-term measures to alleviate acute hardship, particularly in the border areas, Germany is actively engaged in efforts to bring about sustainable improvements in Jordan’s water sector. The medium-term aim is to establish an integrated water resource management system involving both private businesses and civil society. In addition, development cooperation focuses on promoting education and employment for both the Jordanian and refugee populations. Individual projects are also being supported in other areas, such as school construction, poverty reduction and gender equality. To help build capacities, Jordanian business leaders and skilled workers are being invited to participate in training and further education programmes in Germany and third countries.
Jordan also benefited from the option of debt swaps for development projects, applicable in the areas of poverty reduction, environmental protection and education. In September 2011, the 11th and final agreement of this kind – worth 27 million euros – was signed. This funding was used for the German-Jordanian University and the construction of primary schools.
Academic and cultural exchange
Cultural relations between Germany and Jordan are founded essentially on three main elements: academic cooperation, archaeological cooperation and bilateral cultural and language programmes conducted by the Goethe-Institut in Amman.
Jordanian universities and research institutions maintain a lively exchange with Germany in a wide variety of areas. Many Jordanian scientists and academics studied or obtained their doctorates in Germany and conduct joint research projects with German colleagues. With the help of German scholarships or at their own expense, numerous Jordanian students, doctoral candidates and professors come to Germany every year for short or long-term stays.
Since 2012, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has operated an Information Centre (IC) in Amman, which is the first point of contact for all issues relating to German universities and studying in Germany. The IC also manages a range of scholarship programmes.
The German-Jordanian University (GJU), which was launched in 2005, is Germany’s biggest university export project with a focus on engineering subjects and business studies. This state university’s curriculum and teaching programmes are modelled on those of German universities of applied sciences. Partnerships with an ever-expanding network of Jordanian and German companies shape teaching and research at GJU. Since 2005, Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences has been GJU’s leading project partner in the DAAD programme German Higher Education Projects Abroad. In their fourth year, all GJU students spend a semester studying at one of the more than 80 German partner universities as well as completing a compulsory work experience stint in Germany.
Since its founding, GJU has evolved into one of the country’s leading universities. At its campus in Mushaqar near Madaba, there are 4400 students studying in 9 faculties and a total of 26 programmes. GJU also serves as a regional competence centre for training German teachers (Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in German as a Foreign Language), and also expressly targets prospective students from the entire Middle East and North Africa region. Through the DAAD, Germany provides 90 additional university places for Syrian refugees and Jordanians. This includes 30 scholarships for the Master’s programme in Conservation Studies, Cultural Heritage and Built Environment, which is being offered as part of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) project “Stunde Null: A Future for the Time after the Crisis”.
The Federal Foreign Office also provides support to the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund (DAFI), which is giving 231 refugees in Jordan an opportunity to study at university.
In archaeology, Germany and Jordan have had close cooperative relations based on mutual trust for many decades. A branch of the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology of the Holy Land (DEIAHL), which is also a research unit of the DAI, coordinates joint excavations with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, especially in the north of the country (Jerash, Gadara, Tell Zira’a near Umm Qais and Tell Usher near Irbid).
The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Foreign Office (through its Cultural Preservation Programme) supported structural analysis work on the ruins of the desert palace at Mshatta and the restoration of its important architectural features over a period of several years. The original south facade is among the items on show at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The Goethe-Institut in Amman runs a varied programme of theatre, music and exhibitions, which targets a young audience with an interest in Germany. There is a strong demand for the Goethe-Institut’s language courses. As part of the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), German as a foreign language has been established at four schools in Jordan that are overseen by the Goethe-Institut. In the 2016-2017 school year, pupils at one of these schools have been able to choose German as a subject up to university entrance level for the first time.
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