Jordan has a plan to retain nation’s youth – can they sell it?

All Anas Atef wants is to open a restaurant and live next door to his parents.

His family has other plans for the 22-year-old college student: leave the country.

“The last thing I want to do is leave my family and community behind, although they are all telling me to leave,” Mr. Atef says. “I’m defying them and staying. But if the economy doesn’t turn around here, I won’t have a choice.”

In a kingdom where family and clan come first, emigrating as a life choice was uncommon, even a taboo.

But amid an economic tailspin, concerned Jordanians are urging their sons and daughters to find opportunities abroad – and not to look back – upending social norms.

In response, Jordan’s leadership is racing to win over Mr. Atef’s increasingly disenfranchised generation with a new economic plan. Its goal: to revive a moribund economy and reverse a potential brain drain as talent and capital leave the country for regional neighbors and the West.

The country is short on natural resources, water, and funds. But the biggest deficit the leadership faces? Trust.

In an Arab Barometer survey released this summer, Jordan, considered an oasis of peace and stability in a troubled region, nevertheless ranked at the top of 10 Arab countries with citizens considering migration. Of those surveyed, 48% in Jordan said they were weighing emigration – more than in Lebanon, which is mired in an economic and humanitarian disaster (38%), or war-torn Libya (20%).

Roughly two-thirds of those Jordanians considering emigrating were between the ages of 18 and 29.

Read full article at The Christian Science Monitor