The India- Jordan cultural relations have been progressing well with a spotlight on the Bollywood apart from the increasing tourism and people to people contact marked by the swelling Indian community in Jordan.
The huge popularity of Bollywood in Jordan: Like in India the huge popularity of the Indian cine stars including Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan has reached the offshore in Jordan.
Many Arab countries which include UAE and Jordan have been keen to encourage Bollywood to take up the film shooting in their country so as to make the local audience in India familiar with the various beautiful locations in their country which also has the potential to promote tourism outflow from the country.
Jordan has been positioning itself as a viable destination for the film shootings and Bollywood counterpart filmmakers in Hollywood have been exploring the locations well. Hollywood movies such as Fair Game, The Hurt Locker, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen have been shot there. Now Jordan is keen to encourage the Indian Filmmakers to shoot their movies in the exquisite locations.
Indian superhit flick Krrish 3 starring Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut was shot in Petra and the Roman theatre in Jordan. Two movie songs from the Indian Kannada language film “Prithvi” directed by Jacob Varghese released in 2010 were shot in the locations in the Wadi Rum, Jerash and Petra in Jordan.
Jordan as a tourists paradise: The picturesque destinations like Petra, Aqaba and the Dead Sea makes Jordan an indispensible tourist location. Jordan has been promoting itself as a cultural heritage location while concurrently encouraging adventure and activity tourism in addition to eco-tourism, health and wellness and sports and recreation.
The Indian tourist outflow to Jordan is also increasing which swelled by 39 percent to 20,150 till the first half of the last year. The Kingdom is offering a fully-sponsored luxury honeymoon of seven nights for the couples who host their marriage there. Moreover, it is also offering a $100 pass to Indians to visit over 40 historical sites across Jordan, including the ancient cities of Petra and Jerash and Wadi Rum.
The Kingdom is trying to attract the Indian travellers with various incentives and promotional campaigns through print, indoor, outdoor and online mediums.
Understanding the vast potential of the tourism between the two nations, India and Jordan signed a MoU during the last visit of the King Abdullah to India in 2006 for promoting the tourism. The cultural sites and historic landmarks are very popular with the travellers visiting Jordan. A large number of Indians are also choosing Jordan for holding Meetings and Conferences.
In its attempt to attract more Indian travellers Jordan liberalized visa regime for Indian national since November 2009. Indian tourists visiting Jordan gets ‘visa on arrival.’
Indian Diaspora in Jordan: Indian Diaspora in Jordan may not be as big as in the other Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE but despite their small number they contribute significantly towards the development and progress of Jordan. With a just little over 10,000 strong Indian community in Jordan, their contribution in the economic sector in the country is huge. They are mostly employed in textile, construction and manufacturing sectors, fertilizer companies, health sector, universities, IT, financial companies and multilateral organisation.
The Indian Diaspora holds ownership in many companies including 25 garment factories located in the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) in Jordan having an investment over US$ 300 million and employing over 10,000 persons.
Apart from which the Indian Diaspora has been key to making Yoga a familiar name in Jordan. Indian and Jordan signed a cultural exchange agreement for the period 2015-17 during the then President Pranab Mukherjee visit to Jordan to facilitate cultural exchange between the two nations.
The Indian Embassy in Jordan also facilitate the celebrations of national festivals like Republic Day and Independence Day in the country which attracts large Indian community to the functions. Besides, Diwali and other festivals are also celebrated with lots of enthusiasm.
The Jordan student community in India: Nearly 1,000 students from Jordan are enrolled in various courses in different Indian Universities. Over 2,500 Jordanians have already passed out from various Indian universities. Despite their small number the Indian efforts to attract the students from Jordan for higher studies in the country has been the mainstay of its policy to reach out to Jordan. Understanding its significance the Indian government has increased ITEC slots from 30 to 50 since 2015-16.
Apart from which ICCR offers 05 (five) annual scholarships to meritorious Jordanian students for higher education in India.
Moreover, the universities from India like Amity have also entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with various universities in Jordan for promoting cooperation and exchange in all academic areas of mutual interest including friendship and educational exchange.
Conclusion: The cultural exchange between the two nations is the real hallmark of bilateral relations. As India and Jordan establish a deeper cultural relation with each other, the prospective of bilateral engagement in the political and economic domain spells very well. Jordan and India share a great affection with each other which is visible in their foreign policy.