Tax Free Tranquility

At times the turquoise blue waters of the Red Sea are as tranquil and warm as bath water. Dust from the nearby deserts hangs in the air and gives the scene an apocalyptic quality.
From where I stand looking down on the local’s horse sift through the sand, the beach is being cleared of tents that locals have erected to house tourists. The government is making way for, what they claimed as they removed us from our tents, “big hotels.”
Where the horse now stands in the shade, a European will one day soon sit beneath an umbrella sipping on an overpriced cocktail in a closed off beach area. The beaches will be the property of hotels like the Hilton, Movenpick and Intercontinental. Locals will have to pay $25 for access.
Aqaba, where this beach roles itself out along the coastline, is a tax free zone; it’s perfect for foreign investment. The government here, like in other developing countries where tourism is a temptation, says this will bring jobs and money into the Jordanian economy.
Hotel complexes being build here have already denied me access to photograph the builders because they are from Egypt (cheaper labor) and not Jordan.
If taxes are low or based only on a small percentage of profit and not property, if jobs are going to the lowest bidder, and if all these hotels are owned by foreign companies, how does this help locals?

Posted May 3rd, 2006 in Uncategorized.

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