This will have a familiar ring to those who remember the Brand Israel campaign. That was supposed to show Israel as a nice place to visit for tourists. It had to be postponed because of a minor technical mis-hap: The Lebanon war. It was felt, for some reason, that photos of tourists enjoying the beaches of Haifa might not be convincing if rockets were falling a few hundred meters away.
Now Jordan has been sold the same idea. A suggested slogan, "Visit Jordan, where things do not blow up most of the time." Another good one, "Visit Jordan, get your annotated copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Jordan is a beautiful and interesting country with a lot of potential (some of it realized) and a relatively reasonable government. Jordanians are a warm, hospitable and courtly people. Israel is a pretty wonderful country too. But ad-agency hype is not going to get those messages across.
By Yoav Stern
DEAD SEA, Jordan - Jordan is working on altering its image from a sleepy Arab country to one attractive to investors, a regional leader and a welcoming host.
This transformation is not yet complete - when cellphones are confiscated at the border and taxi drivers are fined for exceeding their predetermined zones of operation, it is hard to see progress. But compared to the rumbling volcanoes surrounding the country - Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Saudi Arabia - there is something to this change.
"Jordan is a country of law," the "Gate to the Middle East," huge billboards stated in English, aiming to reach people at conferences. In addition to the World Economic Forum this week, Jordan also hosted G-11 members. A few days earlier, Nobel Peace Prize laureates attended an annual gathering, and a group of Israeli and Palestinian public figures met to discuss ways of furthering regional peace.
King Abdullah II moved between events, a generous host. He arrived at the Israeli-Palestinian summit, heading an entourage of aides. The king received guests in one room, Vice Premier Shimon Peres awaited in another room, next door to a Saudi prince.
"Jordan has had many and varied diplomatic and economic achievements," the director of the king's press office said. But Jordan is also very interested in furthering peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Arab League has assigned Jordan the task of leading this effort.
King Abdullah told the Palestinians he had no ambitions for the West Bank and wished to see an independent Palestinian state. He told Israel "2007 is a critical year" and the Arab peace initiative is the best framework for peace. Kuwaitis, Lebanese and Saudis participating in the forum said they shared the King's views.