Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jordan, a Kingdom steeped in history, culture

Yousef Suleiman is a proud Jordanian, who is ready to sell the country as a tourist destination like a good sales person. It is not surprising, therefore, that he is here in Nigeria doing the ground work for the commencement of operations of the Royal Jordanian Airways. In this interview, he shares his views and expectations on the coming of the airline into the country and what they are going to offer the Nigerian travelling public. Excerpts.
On when Royal Jordanian will commence services
Royal Jordanian will commence operation to Nigeria first week of July and will start with airbus 330 with a capacity to carry 281 passengers. The Airbus A330, equipped with the latest aviation technology and top of the line comfort facilities, is a wide-body, twin engine aircraft.
Our unique, shell seats in Crown Class provide passengers with their own private space and a vast palette of entertainment options.   Passengers in Economy Class can also enjoy comfortable seating and a personal entertainment screen complete with English and Arabic films, music, television programs, and games for the whole family. We are starting with two flights a week, Wednesday and Friday. We hope that next year we will increase frequency to Nigeria, because next year January we are will start receiving 11 aircrafts from Boeing for 787 aircrafts.
On choice of Nigeria now
Nigeria is new market for us, as you know Jordan as a country is tourist destination with tourists’ arrival every year in the range of 2.5 million tourists. We want to expand, we want to have more people from other areas and we think that Africa now is the future and Nigeria is one of the biggest in the continent and we want to do business here. So we want to start with Nigeria as a giant in Africa.
We also want to take Nigerians   to see our country. There is no mistaking the fact that Jordan is a Kingdom steeped in history and culture. From the moment you arrive, you get a sense of its rich heritage; all around are remnants of ancient civilizations long since passed, yet they still remain, stamped into the very fabric of this amazing Kingdom and etched into the soul of the people who live here.
On target market
We are targeting people, the business community, corporate organisations, hajj and Umrah and those who can visit Jordan as holy land. Jordan is part of the biblical period and we have many historical places like where Jesus was baptised. The site of John the Baptist’s settlement at Bethany Beyond the Jordan ,where Jesus was baptized, has long been known from the Bible (John 1:28 and 10:40) and from the Byzantine and medieval texts.
The site has now been identified on the east bank of the Jordan River, in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and is being systematically surveyed, excavated, restored, and prepared to receive pilgrims and visitors. Bethany Beyond the Jordan is located half an hour by car from the Jordanian capital Amman. The Bethany area sites formed part of the early Christian pilgrimage route between Jerusalem, the Jordan River, and Mount Nebo.
On how Nigeria can benefit from the partnership
Jordan is not all about tourism; it is also a medical centre in the Middle East area. You know Nigerians go to India and Egypt for medical treatment, if we start our operations, they can now go to Jordan, because it is a medical centre in the Middle East area. Although, we are not an oil rich country, but we believe our people are the oil in Jordan.
On Nigeria aviation sector
Aviation industry in Nigeria is very good now, there are lots of competitions which will benefit the passengers, and in this case, the people have choice and so many destinations to visit. Maybe in the past their choices were limited to London and South Africa, but now they can visit also Jordan, especially as we can arrange visa for them to visit Jordan.
We already have approval for Nigerians to visit Jordan as tourists and business.  Now there is an honorary consul here in Lagos.
On his stay in Nigeria
I came into Nigeria for the first time 2011, I spent five months and also came in 2012, I spent another five months. Now I came here in 2013 to start the operations of the Royal Jordanian Airways which will commence soon. Nigeria is a nice and beautiful country; the only problem is the traffic.
On his expectation
My expectation is like that of every young business with hope of growing and winning the market through our services.

Yousef Suleiman