WEBsessed
Razan Khatib's commentary on life on/off the web

Why Jordan could be the next silicon valley? 0

A skeptical friend of mine the other day asked me while we were attending the Global Entrepreneurship Week launch event in Jordan why do people think Jordan is special and why would it ever be the silicon valley of the region?

Through answering him I explained how Amman is similar to the US in one important aspect. We are a city that grew through immigration of displaced people from different parts of the region throughout the years.

This sense of starting new, passed down from generation to generation. While the apparent difference in this analogy comes from the fact that when people settled in Jordan it wasn’t seen as a dream come true like what immigrants in the US felt. Nonetheless, I see this spirit of making it big in many of my circles, the social and professional alike. With people from older generations, the 40 somethings as well as my generation of 30 somethings. Now i see it more in the 20 somethings.

They all want to make it big, want to follow their dreams, want to be the next Microsoft, Google or Facebook or the better Starbucks, Landor.

It gets to a point at my startup that people get out to start their own after a while, might be annoying at times to an employer but the bigger picture is that they take the risk, they go and follow their dreams.

I don’t have statistics but I am sure if you look at the number of new tech companies that started up the past 10 years you will definitely see a sharp curve.

The torch for the next silicon valley was ignited already, we are still struggling to create an ecosystem but i see it happening. Yet as Fred Wilson mentioned recently in a blog post:

But it takes time. And you can’t fast forward because we are talking about experience which can’t be manufactured. You simply have to put in the time.

We have a long way ahead of us, the private sector needs to start investing in educating the next generation we must be proactive in creating innovative ways to bridge the gap between our existing educational institutions and what the workforce needs and not wait until our government does so. Sponsor innovation by investing in internal labs to experiment with ideas. We need to enable other Arab talent an easy path to come and start their dream in Jordan not get stuck at lousy immigration policies. Look at how many people from an Indian origin live in Silicon Valley? See how they are celebrated.

The Maktoob deal earlier this year ignited this hope once again, it gave everyone a successful picture and a reality that could be theirs in the near future or something along that path.

A reflection 2

Been reflecting about my premature come back from Canada 2.5 years ago continuously all through since then. For all the mix of reasons I thought of then when I made the decision, coupled with the numerous disappointments the move brought with it; I thought I’d be forever haunted by that decision. The big what if?

Recently however, I came into a self discovery that stopped this thread of thought forever I think.

I discovered that my heart was and forever will be in Amman.

And no matter what Canada, the US or the west offered. Its here in Amman where I want to make it. Turned out not a 50-50 of a great life. More like 40-60 with the latter for Amman.

This discovery brought peace into my mind and regardless of any future decisions to move or not. I know I will always come back to Amman and its where I will grow old amongst family and friends.

east, west…now weast? 1

For as long as I remember, I wanted to live in the west where I can find like-minded people around me, where I was free to live whatever kind of lifestyle I wanted for my self.

The problem was defined and the solution was known.

I didn’t belong in Amman, so I managed to leave to Canada.

Yet with all the fun and great experiences I had that year; I still felt like a stranger in a strange land.

Coming back to Amman, nothing changed either, I still don’t belong here as well but that escape, that doorway is closed now. That solution of just leaving Amman and finding my self elsewhere has lost its magic. Its a done deal. This realization that you can never live the kind of life you want 100% anywhere is a bugger and now its going to be a lifetime bugger, the never ending Quest of liberal Arabs to find a place for themselves…

So a fusion of Amman and Toronto? for now its more Amman, and the bit of Toronto I can create every now and then!

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