Aqaba, situated in the southern tip of Jordan on the Red Sea, was transferred into a Special Economic Zone in 2000.
It enjoys a liberalised, low-tax, duty-free regime with multi-sector development areas including tourism, industrial and port activities.
Investments in tourist resorts in the port city of Aqaba are soaring. Over 15 new hotels will be constructed over the next three to four years on the north and south beaches. Jordanian and Arab investors, mainly from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar, haven taken advantage of the strategic positioning of Aqaba and the incentives offered by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), to launch multi-million dollar projects.
ASEZA and the business community are committed to further expand tourism in Aqaba by delivering high quality services and experiences. In co-operation with the Jordan Tourism Board, Destination Aqaba will be promoted more aggressively in the region and abroad.
Some of the major tourist developments underway in Aqaba:
• Aqaba Inter-Continental Hotel: a 255-room five-star beach front hotel with a 300-meter long beach.
• Tala Bay resort project: an integrated tourist and residential resort featuring a marina, several hotels, a golf course, housing units and other entertainment and ports facilities.
Hotels under development include:
• South Marina Beach Hotel: a 350 room five-star hotel by Zara Investment Company.
• Marina Beach Hotel: a 320 room five-star hotel with 16 suites to be built on 60,000 sq m by Qatari-based Al Qamar Investment comapny.
• Marina Town Hotel: a 250 room four-star hotel to be built on 18,000 sq m by the Egyptian Gold Coast Investment Company. Opening end 2007.
Ayla Oasis: a $700 million project on the north beach of Aqaba featuring a man-made lagoon, five hotels, 2884 housing units; a marina village and an 18-hole golf course constructed over 430 hectares with a 250 m sea frontage on the Gulf of Aqaba.
• Aqaba Saraya: A $362 million tourism project to be developed on a total area of 610,000 sq m, with a built up area of 648,000 sq m The project includes six hotels and resorts, in addition to, Al-Hayat Sports & Spa complex; Al Qasr Convention Center; residential compounds and serviced apartments; an aquarium; traditional souks, promenades and entertainment facilioties. The project is due for completion in 2009.
• Manara Hotel: a five-star 200 room hotel with a built up area of 20,000 sq m.
• Palm Beach Hotel: a five-star 39 luxury suites boutique hotel with a built up area of 4,000 sq m.
Kempinski Aqaba: a five-star 220-room beach-front hotel.
The International Hospitality Forum will be held next September and will include all these developments. The show promises to be bigger and better. Situated in the Amman International Exhibition in Marj al Hamam, the show aims to attract key visitors and buyers from Iraq.
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