ASEZA chief tells Jordan TV about king's visit to Aqaba
Abdullah inaugurated the expansion of Aqaba Container Terminal28 October, 13:37
On Thursday King Abdullah inaugurated the expansion of the Aqaba Container Terminal and Aqaba's new phosphate terminal.
During a visit to Aqaba, some 330km south of Amman, the king was briefed on the future work plan of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and on the plans of the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) prior to a meeting with local, Arab and foreign investors.
While meeting with ASEZA members, the king stressed the importance of team work and coordination among the concerned parties in Aqaba in a manner that serves to implement future strategic projects, draw investments, provide jobs to citizens and improve their living conditions.
King Abdullah called for the establishment of an advisory board with members from ASEZA and the local community to determine the needs of the local community and engage it in the decision-making process, a Royal Court statement said.
"We were honored to receive his majesty in Aqaba. The two projects are part of the Aqaba Ports' Community development master plan," Dr. Mahadin said when asked about the importance of the two projects inaugurated by King Abdullah.
"The Aqaba Container Terminal is a true success story of public-private partnership. This expansion will increase the handling capacity of the terminal.
"As you know, last year the terminal handled over 800,000 TEUs and the expansion will allow Aqaba to receive over 1,500,000 TEUs annually.
"As for the new phosphate terminal, Jordan is a top phosphate exporting country and it is of great values to the Jordanian national income. "The new phosphate terminal adds an international standard facility that allows Jordan to expand its phosphate exports" Ghanem noted that the "Aqaba Container Terminal is an integral part of Jordan's multi-model transportation network in general and Aqaba's ports in particular. In 2001 the terminal handled 200,000 TEU and last year it handled over 800,000. The Expansion, capacity building and upgrading of equipment of the terminal are all part of the partnership agreement between ADC and APM Terminals (part of the global A.P. Moller-Maersk Group).
"The expansion doubled the length of the terminal and there will also be an expansion in the yards serving the terminal and the equipment. The Container terminal is a source of pride for all Jordanians".
Commenting on the importance of ensuring that the local community of Aqaba benefits directly from all the economic development the zone is witnessing, Dr. Mahadin replied: "when his majesty set out his vision for Aqaba, Aqaba had 400 hotel rooms and today we have 4,000 and Aqaba went from having two five-star hotels to eight today with four world class resorts.
"Aqaba also has many three-star hotels and hotel apartments, which has reflected on the local community's welfare as this development goes hand in hand with the development of health services, education and other aspects," he added.
"So much was done to develop and upgrade the southern beach, a major tourism attraction, in addition to the development of the infrastructure, so that the area is ready to host thousands of tourists and, to make it easier for families to camp there, we have planted over 2,000 palm trees and inserted over 3000 umbrellas".
Dr. Mahadin said: "as you know King Abdullah called for the establishment of an advisory board with members from ASEZA and the local community to determine the needs of the local community and engage it in the decision-making process.
"ASEZA and ADC launched over 680 scholarships for local community students and other capacity building projects and initiatives targeting the empowerment of the NGOs operating in Aqaba".
Commenting on the challenges facing Aqaba, Dr. Mahadin said: "it is important to list the opportunities and positive aspects first. His majesty King Abdullah's visit to promote economic cooperation between Jordan and other counties, such as the United States, Turkey, China and European countries, has contributed considerably to increasing interest in investing in Aqaba and we are already discussing investments in energy, water and light industries with international investors.
"The biggest challenge remains the political situation in the region," he added.
Dr. Mahadin also listed the top priorities for ASEZA for the near future: first, the development and engagement of the local community in the development and decision-making process; second, the upgrading of the infrastructure and services; third, revising the regulations to ensure more involvement of the local community and possibly the expansion of Aqaba to the north to include more areas in the economic and social development programs; and finally. the development of underprivileged towns close to Aqaba.
Ghassan commented on the 'Ports Community' development plans and said "2012 saw the setting of a new comprehensive vision for Aqaba ports to ensure it is of international standard and caters for Jordan's future needs. "Very soon construction will starts to develop liquid petroleum gas and liquid natural gas terminals, which will be of great added value to Jordan and the region. "Furthermore, the Aqaba Oil Terminal is currently being developed to double its handling capacity".