First Published: 2018-03-14

ARC development aims to boost Aqaba’s touristic appeal
Jordan’s Red Sea port city of Aqaba is looking to boost tourism.
Middle East Online

By Roufan Nahhas - AMMAN

A view of the Movenpick complex in the Red Sea port City of Aqaba

AQABA, Jordan - Jordan’s Red Sea port city of Aqaba is looking to boost tourism by transforming the city and overcoming challenges posed by regional conflicts.

The Aqaba Recreation Centre (ARC), a 13,000-sq.-metre entertainment centre that, when completed, will provide a variety of entertainment facilities lacking in Aqaba is seen as a strong step towards targeted tourism.

The multimillion-dollar ARC project will provide the city of more than 188,000 people and a 27km shoreline a “high-level tourism environment with an excellent service to locals and tourists from everywhere,” Khalil Faraya, communications officer at Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), said.

“The strategically located project in the centre of the city and its closeness to the hotels make it a perfect addition to Aqaba’s tourism efforts and will provide various entertainment options.”

“The ARC project will offer what we believe is lacking in the city, such as movie theatres, five-star restaurants, children’s entertainment facilities, museums, branded coffee houses and a global amusement appeal in addition to using technology such as virtual reality,” Faraya added.

“Tourists will be able to enjoy a virtual tour of Aqaba and its sites using the latest technology that generate realistic sensations as if you were there, just by wearing special headsets.”

Aqaba resident Ahmed Abu Ezz, 25, a shop salesman, said the ARC Project will be an excellent attraction for both locals and tourists.

“Imagine a touristic city without a movie theatre or a closed entertainment facility because in summer it gets really hot here and we need covered air-conditioned places. Aqaba is also famous for its diving sports and shopping. This new project will be a great addition in the life of many people who enjoy visiting the city,” Abu Ezz said.

“We also expect that the project will create many job opportunities and will increase the number of tourists coming here as we really had bad seasons in the past few years due to conflicts around us.”

Jordan’s Department of Statistics said the unemployment rate in the country was 18.5% in the third quarter of 2017. It stood at 15.4% among males and 30% among females in that same period. Aqaba registered the highest rate of unemployment, at 19.8%. The lowest rate was in Zarqa governorate, where unemployment was 11.4%.“Through various investments, ASEZA aims to create job opportunities, which is considered a huge challenge and we hope that we will be able to create 10,000 jobs by 2020 and 20,000 by 2025,” Faraya said.

In 2017, Aqaba experienced an increase of 27.1% in the number of travellers and the number of international flights grew 12.6%, with four new routes connecting Europe to Aqaba’s King Hussein International Airport. Budget carrier Ryanair’s entry into the Jordanian market is expected to boost the numbers.

“There is definitely a need for change in Aqaba’s approach towards a better tourism. Every summer we go there and we do the same things all over again because not much has changed. That is why I think this project will bring the aspired change. The project might take some time to materialise but at the end it will offer more variety and badly needed entertainment,” said Amman resident Khaled Tabaza, 34.

“As visitors, whether local or foreign, we are seeking more options to extend our stay in Aqaba. I believe this can be achieved through the offer of more and better entertainment,” he added.

In addition to the ARC, Aqaba is planning a marine life station, birds garden, Olympic village and medical centre.

Roufan Nahhas, based in Jordan, has been covering cultural issues in Jordan for more than two decades.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.


Saudi to carry out nuclear power deal with or without US

Egyptians prepare to vote with Sisi reelection guaranteed

Israel ministers welcome US appointment of 'friend' Bolton

Iran slams US sanctions over hacking scheme

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

Policeman dead in bombing in Alexandria

Syria rebels prepare to quit penultimate pocket of Ghouta

Syrians in Manbij fear Turkey, bet on US

Mother Courage: Iraqi widow who saved recruits from slaughter

Quick victory unlikely in Egypt assault on IS

Sisi, Egypt's undisputed leader and 'father figure'

PKK to quit northwest Iraq after Turkish threat

Iraqi asylum seeker gets life sentence for London bombing

UK says Israeli sentencing of Palestinian teenage girl "emblematic"

Sarkozy vows to clear name in Libya probe

Syria announces second evacuation deal for rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

Three dead after suspected IS gunman takes hostages in France

170,000 flee violence in Syria's Afrin

Norway proposes bill to ban full-face veils in education

Turkey says EU statements on Cyprus 'unacceptable'

Air strikes hit Ghouta despite rebel ceasefire effort

US approves $1 billion in Saudi defence contracts

In world first, flight to Israel crosses Saudi airspace

Saudi, US must pursue 'urgent efforts' for Yemen peace: Mattis

US, Jordan launch new counterterrorism training centre

Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Rebels evacuate Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Two Hamas security force members killed in raid on bomb suspect

Turkey gives watchdog power to block internet broadcasts

EU leaders to condemn Turkey’s ‘illegal’ actions in Mediterranean

Sarkozy says life ‘living hell’ since corruption allegations

Hezbollah leader says debt threatens Lebanon disaster

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007