Leaders

Omar Razzaz

Omar Razzaz 

Omar Razzaz
عمر الرزاز
Prime Minister of Jordan
Incumbent
Assumed office
14 June 2018
Monarch Abdullah II
Preceded by Hani Mulki
Minister of Education
In office
14 January 2017 – 14 June 2018
Prime Minister Hani Mulki
Preceded by Mohammad Thneibat
Succeeded by Azmi Mahafzeh
Personal details
Born 1 January 1961 
Al-Salt, Jordan
Political party Independent
Relatives Munif Razzaz (father)
Alma mater Harvard University

Omar Razzaz (Arabic: عمر الرزاز‎;) is the current Prime Minister of Jordan. He was appointed on 5 June 2018 after his predecessor resigned as a result of widespread protests against IMF-backed austerity measures in the country. Razzaz had been Minister of Education since 4 January 2017. He had previously been director of several national and international institutions.

Early life

Razzaz was born in Al-Salt city in 1961 to Munif Razzaz and Lam’a Bseiso.

Education

Razzaz holds a PhD from Harvard university in Planning, minoring in Economics. He did his post-doctorate at Harvard Law School. He had previously received a Master’s degree from MIT.

Career

Razzaz was director of the World Bank in Lebanon between 2002 and 2006. He was director of Jordan’s Social Security Corporation between 2006 and 2010. He also served as director of the Jordan Strategy Forum and Jordan’s Ahli Bank.

In 2017, he joined Hani Mulki’s government as Minister of Education. His tenure saw overhauls to Jordan’s education system. He became Prime Minister on 5 June 2018 after his predecessor, Mulki, resigned as a result of widespread protests against IMF-backed austerity measures in the country. On 14 June, his cabinet was sworn into office by King Abdullah. The new government included 16 members from the previous 28-minister government, this was criticized from the public as a complete overhaul of the cabinet was anticipated. Despite criticism, the government included seven women, the largest female representation in the country’s history.

Razzaz faces a tough task of balancing between international lenders and an angry public. Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 96%, and an unemployment figure of 18.4%, the highest in 25 years.[7] Jordan’s economic woes were brought by the turmoil spreading from the Arab Spring when it erupted in 2010. Trade union figures, who lead the public protests, threatened to return back to the streets if Razzaz does not deliver. Razzaz has promised a more inclusive approach, but has also tried to lower expectations during meetings with legislators and trade union representatives. “There is no magic stick. There is no painkiller. This is a long path, a difficult path. But God willing, the target is clear and the leadership is united with the people in achieving it.” In his first cabinet meeting, Razzaz withdrew the income tax bill from Parliament, and promised to have deep discussions about it. The bill was the spark to the protests that led to his predecessor’s ouster.[8]

Personal life

Omar’s father Munif was a member of the Jordanian Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. In the 1950s, the Jordanian Ba’athists were loud critics of King Hussein. Because of his anti-monarchy activities Munif was imprisoned multiple times in the 1950s. Munif relocated to Iraq in 1977 and became a leading member of the Iraqi Ba’ath. Munif was among dozens accused of plotting against the then newly Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the 1979 Ba’ath Party Purge, and had died in 1984. Omar claims that his father was poisoned during his house arrest in Baghdad..

(The Featured image copyright is World Economic Forum)

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