Amman: The Chief Commissioners of Jordan’s Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), Nasser Shraideh has announced the launch of a project to develop the northern Zone of Aqaba with a total area of 109 square kilometers, of which 87 square kilometers are located within the border strip of the Wadi Araba and 22 kilometres from the Aqaba Special Economic Zone. 

The cost of infrastructure development is estimated to reach 2 billion dinars (Dh 10.35 billion approximately) over a period of seven years starting from 2019 and ending in 2025.

Shraideh announced at a news conference held on Monday that the project comes within the ASEZA’s strategic plan to stimulate growth and economic development in the region through the addition of new investment zones. He added that the new developed area will benefit from the special law that governs the Aqaba Special Economic Zone and the incentives and investment advantages in the region offers.

The new development zone includes many investment-stimulating elements, such as road and sewerage networks, rainwater drainage system and addresses the problem of high energy cost through the establishment of a renewable energy project that starts with generating 20 MW each year reach 200 MW upon completion of the project.

The new investment zone is to feature a water desalination plant with a capacity of 20 million cubic meters per year to reach 120 million cubic meters upon the completion of the project in addition to a network serving communications and information technology.

Shraideh said that the new development project will include various resorts and tourism services that will develop the tourism product by linking the environmental tourism in Wadi Araba with Petra to benefit from the advantages offered by these areas within the concept of integrated eco-tourism. Moreover, the project will contribute to increasing hotel room capacity in Aqaba. 

The new development zone will include land for industrial investments, which will attract new industries benefiting from the Aqaba’s logistics cities, and the recently developed and upgraded ports community. This will allow for the creation of industrial cities supporting the specialized industrial investment and manufacturing industries, and the establishment of business incubators. 

He pointed out that the Zone will include agricultural projects based on modern technology and the benefit of treated and desalinated water, pointing to the start of the first agricultural project ‘ Sahara’, a desert project on a land of two thousand acres.

Shraideh noted that the new development zone will also include service investments such as labor cities, health and education services, an Olympic city, a club, a track for car rallies, and studios for cinematography.

Shraideh stressed that the marketing campaign will be accompanied by the launch of this region in order to attract Arab and international investments to benefit from the opportunities offered by the region in the horizons of investment and diversification of tourism product between the sea and the desert, which makes the experience of the next trip to Aqaba a truly exciting experience and able to reflect the diversity of our tourism and heritage product.

Shraideh said that the process of attracting investment is complex and challenging, and investment cannot be achieved by granting incentives only. It is necessary to reduce the cost of production in the fields of energy, water and labor, to increase Aqaba’s competitiveness as a tourism and investment destination.