Amman, Jordan, March 22, 2010 — Senior representatives of AMIDEAST announced plans today to expand the American organization’s operations in Jordan, including the opening of a training center in Aqaba and a new scholarship initiative for women entrepreneurs.
“We are pleased to announce the expansion of our educational and training services in Jordan, underscoring our longstanding commitment to serving Jordan and its people,” AMIDEAST President and CEO Theodore H. Kattouf told a press conference in Amman, which was held in conjunction with the meeting of AMIDEAST’s Board of Directors in Jordan this week.
Also representing AMIDEAST were former U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, Nicholas A. Veliotes, who is a member of AMIDEAST’s Executive Board; Dr. Mary Gray, Chair of AMIDEAST’s Board of Directors; and Nancy McDonald, AMIDEAST’s Country Director for Jordan.
The group described AMIDEAST’s plans to open a training center in Aqaba next month. The center will provide English language and training skills tailored to meet the needs of the Aqaba region’s growing tourism and other industries. It will also provide career development and testing services, as well as house a public library that will serve as an important resource for the local community.
In addition, AMIDEAST Country Director McDonald announced the start of recruitment for the 10,000 Women scholarship initiative, which aims to provide business and management training for underserved women in the Middle East, AMIDEAST will begin recruitment in Jordan immediately for the first cohort of women to attend classes at The American University of Cairo in September.
Funded by Goldman Sachs, the 10,000 Women program is managed by The American University in Cairo with technical support from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Its ultimate goal is to expand the entrepreneurial talent and managerial pool in Jordan, Egypt, and West Bank.
The AMIDEAST representatives also briefed journalists on the wide range of AMIDEAST educational and training services in Jordan. These services and programs include English language and professional skills training, educational advising and testing, and the administration of academic scholarship programs such as the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
They also highlighted special opportunities, such as the English Access Microscholarship Program, a training program for youth that AMIDEAST has administered on behalf of the U.S. Department of State since 2007. Access students receive approximately 400 hours of English language instruction, supplemented by enrichment activities that expand their understanding of American society, government, and the value of community service and volunteerism. The first group of Jordanian boys and girls, totaling 360, completed the two-year program this month. A new Access group to begin soon will include 492 students, and represents a significant expansion of the program.
“Besides receiving intensive language instruction, these bright teenagers engage in activities that open their minds to the world and encourage them to give to their communities through volunteerism and community service,” said McDonald.
McDonald also noted that AMIDEAST is interested in reaching out to local partners in the public, private, and civil society sectors in Jordan to join in expanding AMIDEAST’s English and training activities geared to strengthening job skills, women’s empowerment, and outreach to youth and disadvantaged groups.
Jordan is one of five countries where AMIDEAST has established study abroad programs for Americans. Offered in partnership with the Qasid Institute for Classical & Modern Standard Arabic, the program enables college students to earn college credit for Arabic language study and courses that broaden their understanding of Jordan and the region.
“We appreciate the warm welcome that AMIDEAST has enjoyed in Jordan for over five decades,” noted Board Chair Mary Gray. “But we don’t want to rest on our laurels. We are always focused on developing and transforming our programs and services to optimize our positive contribution to the welfare and future of Jordan and its people, as we are elsewhere in the region.”
Headquartered in Washington DC, AMIDEAST operates a network of 24 field and project offices in a dozen countries across the Middle East and North Africa. AMIDEAST has operated in Jordan since 1956 and was the first international nongovernmental organization to be accorded formal status in Jordan.