Canada sent $675 million to Jordan last year to help refugees, primarily Syrian and Iraqi, who were fleeing persecution in their home countries. But after spending tens of millions to help the refugees, many of whom wanted to resettle in Canada, the country is now facing criticism for helping its monarchically-run King Abdullah II while allowing Canadians to contribute to the fight against the Islamic State. The Daily Beast reported that Canada is paying for the country’s roads, ports, and spas, while the palace complex it funds for Abdullah is mainly a private residence for the king. The palace complex in Amman is managed by the 70-year-old monarch who has grown his personal collection of properties abroad.
In 2016, the Guardian discovered that the Queen Elizabeth II’s private office in London had been spending taxpayer dollars to pay for items such as umbrellas, tents, speakers, and furs. Britain is also providing Jordan with support for infrastructure and assistance in de-mining. Canada sent a total of $2.4 billion to Syria in 2016 as part of its response to the refugee crisis. Jordan hosts 4 million refugees from the conflict in Syria. While Abdullah used Canadian money to furnish his palace, the United Nations provided money to Saudi Arabia and other countries to support their war efforts against ISIL.
Abdullah’s supporters argue that the royal family has built up an unparalleled amount of wealth through a combination of international investments and external revenue. Abdullah’s father also generated significant income through a number of revenue-generating ventures, such as a natural gas company and the sale of the conservative newspaper Makkah. Canadian officials say that they are nevertheless working toward the realization of Abdullah’s vision for a more democratic Jordan where elites would share in the country’s resources, in keeping with his vision of a national unity government. While one might agree that a Jordanian monarch serving as a translator for the UN would rather be deploying troops on the front lines than donating money to it, it is still important to remember that Abdullah himself is the first king to preside over the generational transition of power from his father, King Hussein, to his son.