The fall in oil prices is confronting Jordan with potential political instability after more than a decade of prosperity primed by aid and jobs provided by Arab oil producers in the Persian Gulf.
Even if marginally less affected by local economic repercussions of the slump than other labor-providing countries such as North Yemen or Egypt, whose discharged workers are returning home, Jordan is considered more vulnerable by government ministers and diplomats here.
About two-thirds of Jordan's citizens are of Palestinian descent, and many are increasingly frustrated as they watch their dream of obtaining even a small state of their own become ever more distant.
"The Palestinians here have every reason to be rebellious now for economic as well as political reasons," a government minister remarked.
Like many other Jordanians, he reflected growing fears that the drop in Arab oil revenues will lead to social unrest, political radicalization and stepped-up terrorism.
These fears are coupled with a widespread feeling that much of the promise of the 1970s has been dissipated, even though Jordan's current oil-import bill of $700 million a year could drop dramatically if crude prices keep falling.
Despite the once-proud talk of using the "oil weapon" to extract an equitable solution to the Palestinian question from Israel and the United States, informed Jordanians looking back at the past decade say they realize that the oil boom at least postponed the country's pressing social and economic problems.
Now, with perhaps 6,000 wage earners already back from the Persian Gulf, where as many as 500,000 Jordanians live, government planners are revising upward the numbers likely to come to Jordan if oil settles below $20 a barrel for a prolonged period.
Except for a relative handful with access to the United States or other western countries, most Palestinians forced to leave the gulf are likely to head here, if only because Jordan offers them automatic citizenship.
Nor is Israel likely to prove immune to negative repercussions from cheaper Arab oil. Israel benefited indirectly from the oil boom, which helped skim off almost two-thirds of the estimated 3 percent of the natural annual population increase.
Now high-ranking Jordanian officials tick off a list of potentially catastrophic consequences stemming from the oil price drop:
*Decade-long aid promised Jordan by oil-rich countries at the 1978 Arab League summit meeting in Baghdad has decreased from the original annual pledge of $1.25 billion to $450 million.
Similarly, the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which were to have received $100 million annually during the past seven years, have received a total of only $385 million.
Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country that continues to honor its promised support.
Economist Taher Kanaan, Jordan's minister for the occupied territories, predicted in an interview that the West Bank and Gaza "will be the source of immense problems, starting with fewer job opportunities for the young."
*Official remittances from Jordanians working in the gulf have decreased for the first time in more than a decade, down more than 10 percent to $1.1 billion in 1985, according to government officials.
Further darkening prospects is the likelihood that recent remittance statistics were artificially swollen by lump-sum payments from Jordanians who have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other gulf countries and are taking home their savings.
*Jordan's dreams of turning Amman into a growing regional service center to replace the role once played by Beirut also have suffered with the general economic downturn -- as have exports.
Yet Jordanian officials and foreign specialists alike agree that Jordanians stand the best chance of at least hanging on to existing jobs in the gulf.
Respected for their willingness to produce in the Persian Gulf, Jordanians are relatively well educated, work for lower wages than western counterparts, and culturally and linguistically find living there congenial.
Jordanian officials are aware that they must improve their educational system to provide better qualified doctors, engineers, teachers and other workers now that much of the gulf's basic infrastructure is in place and must be maintained.
Such educational upgrading is also vital if the present 450,000-strong work force is to expand to provide employment for the additional 150,000 to 175,000 young Jordanians hoping to find jobs during the next five years.
But like other foreign workers, those Jordanians still in the gulf claim that they have had to accept less pay for the same work.
And if Kuwait, home to about 350,000 Palestinians, is an accurate yardstick, no new arrivals are welcome in the gulf.
For five years now, Palestinians have not been hired by the Kuwaiti government bureaucracy, once their stronghold. Young Kuwait-born Palestinians are discouraged from returning from higher education abroad unless they already have jobs, which are increasingly hard to find.
Arguably, even without the oil price drop, Persian Gulf countries were becoming less dependent on Palestinian and other foreign workers as they began producing their own educated elite in local and overseas universities.