Jordan’s leading tech park is readying a major expansion plan that aims to attract new investments worth billions.
The King Hussein Business Park (KHBP) has long been a crucial part of Jordan’s plan to become a regional technology center. The business park, which houses over 45 companies and 70 startups and is currently 100 percent occupied, is now gearing up to implement a major expansion of its already sprawling site in the capital Amman. As part of the ambitious scheme, the park will also be transformed into the Kingdom’s future smart efficient urban development.
The park’s Chairman Moayad Samman explained why the expansion is needed and what it will mean for the future of one of Jordan’s most important mega projects.
Who runs the business park?
The business park is a high quality complex originally established as the headquarters of the Jordanian Armed Forces. It is managed by the Business Park Company that acts as the site developer. The running company outsources many of its activities such as facility and property management, municipal works, as well as security, and focuses its core activities on supervising the outsourced operations, attracting investors, as well as planning and executing future developments.
What is your business model? What will the expansion plan involve and when do you expect it to be completed?
The business park is expanding in phases; the business model applied in the first phase can be described as the market testing phase in preparation for the largest urban development project in Amman, and on a larger scale, Jordan. The model was based on renting out offices in already existing buildings, however, having now reached the full capacity of the park, a different model will be adopted for the second phase in order to keep abreast of the current developments.
The park’s current complex is located within a development zone and the main role of the company is being the master developer. Before going into the full-fledged development phase, the appropriate approach is to put the updated development concept—which comprised of revising the different master plans that have been developed throughout the past years—and come up with a new comprehensive concept that stimulates the development in the fast moving real estate market. According to the new master plan, the company will identify productive investment opportunities for potential investors. Once we have the master plan approved, I am confident that the company will be able to generate investment opportunities valued at JD5 billion within the lifetime of the project.
What makes the business park such a sought after location for businesses to set up base there?
Being in Amman’s most sought after area, the park’s location with quick access to all city amenities is considered a strong factor. Its unique business location combines a prestigious address along with outstanding office space whereby the offices are planned with contemporary multi-functional designs offering a variety of features for companies in ICT, healthcare, and media, as well as for NGOs and international organizations. Furthermore, the park is part of the economic development zone that enables it to offer benefits to renting companies, such as exemptions from customs, duties, lower income, and sales tax. In addition to that, what makes the park popular for any business seeking a location to establish or relocate, is the outstanding infrastructure, excellent facilities, security, services, and the truly state-of-the-art data and communications network that we provide.
You seem particularly keen to create a business ecosystem at your business park, why is this?
I have always believed that physical location and putting people in proximity to each other encourages positive interactions, especially when being placed in a community that aims to provide all the services required by the companies and their employees. Tenants of the business park now enjoy working in a modern and vibrant workplace, and can eat in the Café @ Park, buy what they need from the convenience store or the pharmacy, and have the opportunity to engage in a variety of events and conferences all in the same location. We are also planning to introduce further commercial activities and services in the future; this will include a new four star business hotel in a few months and a gym as well. It doesn’t stop here. There are still more projects in the pipeline, such as a clinic, a kindergarten, a coffee place, a hair salon, and ATM machines.
How do your rents differ from other spaces around Amman? And can SMEs afford these office spaces?
KHBP offers Class-A office space in a campus-like outstanding location in the heart of Amman. Our differentiating factor is that the park is a gated community that creates a safe business experience like no other, where we add to the office space and state-of-the-art communications network various other complimentary offerings such as a convention center, events venues, retail shops, hotel, gym, social and public areas, and a package of complimentary services, all at competitive prices as compared to other places in Amman and the region. The rent offered, along with the other benefits, makes it the number one choice for any company, whether locally or internationally looking to establish or move its offices to Amman.
One of the park’s recent offerings is an initiative called “GROW” where we provide office space for startups and entrepreneurs at very low and competitive prices compared to other rent prices in the Kingdom. GROW office spaces provide a modern, practical, and creative atmosphere that include office space upgrades to support a startup’s lifecycle and growth potential, communal workspaces, private meeting rooms, free high-speed Internet, coffee break stations, flexible contracts, and on-site management. All this creates a unique ecosystem, along with proximity to networks, key market players, and exposure to investors, in addition to a feel-good environment for these startups. We are currently housing over 70 startups, and there are future plans to incorporate a fabrication lab as well as a media lab on site, to be added to the current Gaming Lab located at the park.
You hosted the MENA ICT Forum this year. How important are these sorts of events for the business park?
The park offers a high-end and fully equipped convention center that seats up to 500 people, in addition to a multi-purpose building customized with superior finishing, special installations, and AV capabilities, and therefore it is part of our business plan to attract big conferences such as the MENA ICT and others. Hosting the MENA ICT Forum [only makes sense] since we house the most prominent companies working in the ICT sector. These companies felt that the forum should take place within their premises and close to their day-to-day work. This allowed them to have larger participation and the chance to share their work experience and products/services with others.
Now we have many other conferences and events that are held around the year on a weekly basis, but the MENA ICT conference is the largest. When we have the four star hotel within the KHBP, I think this will attract more events. Furthermore, offering events venues allows the attendees of any event to understand the park’s unique eco-system and live the experience of being part of such a prestigious business community.
Companies in Jordan are becoming more environmentally conscious. Is the park following suit?
The park has joined forces with the USAID Jordan Competitiveness Program in order to establish a strong, environmentally-friendly infrastructure operated on solar power, as well as to turn the park into a smart city. The purpose behind this partnership is to increase the park’s competitiveness by reducing its expenses and strengthening its current IT network to attract more investors, grow, and create job opportunities in the eco-friendly ICT sector.
The KHBP already took some measures towards becoming an environmentally-friendly zone. This began with the LED lights installed all over the park, cycling tracks to move around with bicycles rather than cars, clearly marked walking zones, and golf carts to facilitate transportation or delivery within the park’s boundaries. We also installed an electrical charging station to cater for the electric cars that recently started to enter the Kingdom.
The KHBP’s vision is to become a smart park that utilizes the newest sustainable technologies, which keep energy production, energy consumption, and the tenants’ needs in perfect balance.
We soon expect to release a tender with the USAID Jordan Competitiveness Program to evaluate the feasibility of further features to our smart city plan. This will include PV panels on buildings, biomass and waste incineration boilers, adsorption and absorption cooling, integrated grey water and irrigation system controls with sensors for temperature, moisture, and other relevant data, wind power wheeling, and building and pipe insulation.