International desk: Saudi Arabia will host a regional summit to discuss the ongoing economic crisis in Jordan, where a proposed income tax rise recently triggered some of the largest protests in years.
The meeting on Sunday in Mecca will be attended by Saudi King Salman, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The leaders agreed to meet in order to “discuss ways to support Jordan to overcome the economic crisis the country is going through,” Saudi Press Agency said on Saturday, quoting a statement from the Royal Court.
Jordan relies heavily on foreign aid, and the $3.6bn assistance programme it receives annually from the Gulf Corporation Council has not been renewed since last year.
Daoud Kuttab, a journalist based in Jordan’s capital, Amman, said most of the financial aid given to Jordan by Gulf Arab states “has dried up or gone on to specific programmes” which do not help the country’s budget.
“There are different schools of thought on this issue,” he explained. “One says that the Gulf countries support programmes like building schools and highways [in Jordan] rather than just giving them money.
“Then there are some people who think that there is some kind of a political connection to the stopping of the direct support,” Kuttab told Al Jazeera.
“The fact is Jordan is suffering because of this absence of financial aid,” he said, adding that Amman considers Arab countries have a responsibility to keep it afloat, due to its role in protecting Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.