Aqaba media forum gives platform to radio journalists
Three-day event provides 'great opportunity'30 September, 15:22
The more than 300 attendees from the public and private sectors and the local community of Aqaba who attended the First Radio Stations Forum that drew to a close on Saturday were able "not only to interact but also to visit Aqaba and see first-hand all the developments taking place," said Mahadin.
The forum, organized by Jordanian Broadcasters Association and the Sawt Aqaba newspaper, gave a platform to the "men and women working in media, especially in radio stations that have contributed strongly to the development of all sectors in Jordan," he said.
He added that "today, Aqaba, a concept envisioned by the country's royal family, is being transformed into a reality. "We look back, and forward, and we see a long road full of achievements and developments, particularly as we look at the port community that represents the outstanding progress Aqaba is witnessing in the marine transportation sector. It has received over $1 billion in investments both for the ports and other infrastructure-related projects," Mahadin said.
"Aqaba, supported by King Abdullah II and its local community, is on the right track and in line with Jordan's national goals and strategies".
In his speech during the forum's inauguration ceremony Mahadin explained that at the current stage Aqaba is seeing noticeable progress in its mega residential projects including Saraya Aqaba, Marsa Zayed and Ayla Oasis, where over $1.5 billion was invested over the last year.
The role that local radio stations play is of great value, especially in developing the national economy by raising awareness and "communicating the concerns and aspirations of people," Mahadin said in his speech honoring renowned radio presenters in Jordan from the 1960s until today.
President of Jordanian Broadcasters Association Hatem Al Kiswani said "this important forum gave us a great opportunity to have presenters and professionals from broadcasting industry meet in Aqaba, a city that is vibrant on the economic, tourism and demographic levels.
"We are here to do our duty and serve all social categories in the spirit of diversity, enlightenment, development and partnership, as well as to support participation of all in political and social domains," Al Kiswani added.
Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) CEO Ghassan Ghanem gave a detailed brief about ADC and its role as the central development arm for ASEZA.
He briefed the participants about ADC's major projects and the opportunities it offers.
Ghanem explained that "Aqaba's ports have undergone major developments estimated at $700 million divided among 28 berths including the cruise-ship terminal, the container terminal, energy ports and the area of New Aqaba".
The general manager of the Saraya Aqaba residential area, Saud Srour, briefed the participants about the 634,000-square-meter master plan of the development valued at over $1 billion. He noted that the project offers lavish residential units including grand villas, family villas, townhouses, apartments and beach club duplexes.
It also features five-star hotels, operated by Jumeirah, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.
Al Maabar Jordan CEO Emad Kilani gave a brief about the Marsa Zayed development project, providing an update on the current status of the $10 billion project.
Kilani noted that so far the company has invested over $400 million in projects in Aqaba.
Marsa Zayed, a 3.2 million-square-meter development is the largest mixed-use development project envisioned in the region and received two five-star trophies at the Arabian Property awards in 2012.
The first phase of the project includes the Sheikh Zayed Masjid, slated for completion in the second quarter of 2014, and Al Raha Village, a peaceful residential neighborhood comprised of more than 500 residential units, including both apartments and townhouses.
The first phase of development is on track for completion in mid-2015.
Sahel Dudin, the CEO of the Ayla Oasis Project, also briefed attendees on the project noting that the project's infrastructure is now completed with a total investment of $353 million. Located at the western boundary of Aqaba and stretching over 430 hectares of land, Ayla has transformed the landscape of the city by adding 17 kilometers of prime waterfront properties to feature a variety of up-market, unique residential and commercial developments nestled around 75 hectares of seawater lagoons.
Ayla will also feature a "Greg Norman" 18-hole signature golf course and a nine-hole golf academy.
The vision is developing steadily so that by the year 2015 Ayla will add a 300-room Hyatt Regency hotel, the Central Marina village souk, a small boutique hotel along with prime residential units, a golf course and 200 marina bays. Using environmentally-friendly methods, Ayla will introduce green energy to support the pumping of the lagoon and to landscape the golf course.
The total cost of the project is expected to reach $2 billion, of which about 20% has already been invested for the infrastructure and phase I components.
Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT) Commercial Manager Ihab Rawashdeh delivered a short presentation about Aqaba Container terminal stressing Aqaba's position as a transport and logistics hub for the Eastern Mediterranean or Levant region and spoke of the expansion plan currently being implemented at the terminal.
The terminal is situated on the northern shores of the Gulf of Aqaba, in the southern end of Jordan and has adequate facilities to accommodate vessels up to 540 meters long. ACT is one of the key stakeholders in the multi-sector development area ASEZA, a liberalized, low-tax, duty-free area that has its sights on becoming a world-class hub for business and leisure, easily accessible to the Middle East, Asia and Europe.