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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

Major boost for Aqaba port

Abu Dhabi firms building $10bn Marsa Zayed project in a tourism facelift.

AQABA, JORDAN // The US$10 billion (Dh36.73bn) Marsa Zayed project is on course to turn the Red Sea port of Aqaba into a major tourist attraction after King Abdullah of Jordan yesterday laid the cornerstone at a ground-breaking ceremony. Yousef al Nowais, the managing director of Al Maabar, a joint venture involving Abu Dhabi's largest property companies, said the first phase would start during the third quarter of this year.

The project, involving Mubadala Development, Aldar Properties, Sorouh Real Estate, Al Qudra Holding, Reem Investments and Reem International, will provide economic opportunities, improve Aqaba's infrastructure and stimulate the economy. "This mega project will strengthen Aqaba's infrastructure [by] providing apartments, hotels, offices and leisure ? and will enhance expertise in the property sector. Once completed, it will create 15,000 jobs," Mr al Nowais said at the ground-breaking ceremony, which was attended by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior.

Two years ago, Al Maabar bought the land from the Jordanian government for $500 million and invested $10bn in the Marsa Zayed development, a 3.2 million square kilometre, mixed-use project along the waterfront of Aqaba in the south of Jordan. It is the country's largest property and tourism project and is named after the late Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE. It would include towers, recreational areas, business districts, hotels and marinas.

"We look forward to the important role that Marsa Zayed will assume in reviving this historic city, Mr al Nowais said. "The project is not only the largest in the region but also provides economic opportunities," he said. In 2008, Al Maabar signed an agreement with the Jordanian government to develop Marsa Zayed through its subsidiary Al Maabar Jordan Real Estate Development. The launch of the project comes as the region's economies are recovering from the global economic crisis. "The company's strategy is one that is based on quality and not quantity," Mr al Nowais said. "The projects are selected carefully. The funds are also available. The kingdom is also in need of a tourism infrastructure and multi-purpose projects like Marsa Zayed."

Aqaba is undergoing a facelift that includes beachfront tourism development projects. Shadi Majali, the chief executive of Aqaba Development, said developments such as Marsa Zayed reflected investors' interest in Jordan, which was encouraged by economic and political stability. "Security and stability have their advantages," he said. The first phase of Marsa Zayed, between this year and 2014, will consist of a 33-storey office and residential tower, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, 146 town houses and 263 flats. There will also be a neighbourhood retail and community centre.

Published: May 27, 2010 04:00 AM

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