New deal on US$5bn Aqaba city scheme

Horizon Development Holdings have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin work on a new US$5 billion integrated urban regeneration project near the ancient port of Aqaba.

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By  Andrew White Published  April 16, 2006

Horizon Development Holdings have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin work on a new US$5 billion integrated urban regeneration project near the ancient port of Aqaba. The scheme is one of the largest such projects to be undertaken in the history of Jordan, and was announced under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II. It will cover 13.5 million square metres of land on the upper side of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ), 11km inland from the old town of Aqaba. The memorandum was signed by Sheikh Baha’a R. Hariri, Chairman of Horizon Development Holdings, and His Excellency Nader Al Dahabi, Chief Commissioner of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA). The new development is intended to strengthen Aqaba as a whole, and particularly as a social and economic platform. It should extend Aqaba’s recent economic revival beyond the cultural and tourist sectors to banking, retail, light industries and public facilities and services. The project's designers hope that the development will encourage ownership and commitment to the new city, establish integrated public services in 24-hour centres, raise the level of education, and ensure that people remain in the city throughout their lives. The city will also provide sustainable tourism – another catalyst for regeneration and growth. “We are extremely excited about our new partnership, which combines expertise and mutual interest, to help us achieve our common goals of creating a sense of shared ownership, and promoting community engagement with our one-of-a-kind regeneration project in the city of Aqaba, that will also create a destination for international business investment,” said Sheikh Baha’a Hariri. “The immense economic and social opportunity present in the development of this enormous new city is very tangible, and will bring to Aqaba the prosperity and growth it seeks to achieve.” The large-scale urban development will provide a multi-urban-use city divided into six major zones, with easy accessibility from the surrounding area and existing airport. The zones will comprise the commercial district centre, cultural and recreational centre, residential villas, complexes and high-rise buildings, and the Warehousing and Light Industry Zone, to the north of the city. “As ASEZA, we are very pleased about our new partnership, and as we promised 5 years ago, we are still in the early phases of transforming Aqaba into a truly viable and thriving city that is investor friendly, from regulation to infrastructure, and will be attractive for both business and tourism and benefit the overall community,” said His Excellency Nader Al Dahabi, Chief Commissioner of ASEZA. The commercial centre will house apartments, offices, a series of three to five star hotels, public gardens, and will be surrounded by a man-made lake. The lake is intended to provide an aesthetic ‘buffer’ between development zones. The designated recreational and cultural centre, adjacent to the city centre at the south entrance of the city, will accommodate cultural centres, governmental agencies, services, and public buildings and activities. Three zones are assigned to residential areas and will be developed around the man-made lake, to benefit from a panoramic view of the city centre from one side, and the valley or the Aqaba chain of mountains from the other. Finally, the Warehousing and Light Industries Zone will be located between the new city and the ASEZ northern borders, and will be directly accessible from Aqaba airport’s secondary road.

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