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Dead Sea ? Saraya Jordan, Arab Bank, the Social Security Corporation (SSC) and the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) signed a partnership agreement on Friday to build a $362 million tourism project in Aqaba.

The agreement, signed during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the presence of His Majesty King Abdullah and Sheikh Saad Rafiq Hariri, stipulates the establishment of six five-star hotels, beaches, restaurants, an aquarium, entertainment facilities, a souk, a conference centre, a health club and residential areas.

The project should be ready by 2009, Saraya Vice Chairman Ali Kolaghassi said during a press conference announcing the project. He added the project will employ more than 3,000 persons by the time it is finished.

?In order to create a captivating and impressive environment that incorporates architecture and yet captures the magic of the old Arabian Aqaba, Phil Hettema and Associates, a renowned US design firm, were hired as the design architects and master planners for Saraya Aqaba's development,???according to a statement by Saraya.

?It will be developed right in the heart of Aqaba on a total area of 610,000-square-metre, with a built-up area of 648,000 square metres, thus inadvertently reshaping the landscape and presenting an innovative waterfront city upon completion,??? the statement said.

According to Kolaghassi, 30 per cent of the project is owned by the SSC, 10 per cent by the Arab Bank and 10 per cent by the ADC.

SSC President Khaled Wazani said the expected return on investment for this project is about 30 per cent.

?The SSC will make more revenues as 3,000 people will be employed in the project, and would subscribe to the SSC. Besides the SSC owns 15 per cent of the Arab Bank and will benefit from its revenues,??? he indicated.

The project, named ?Saraya Aqaba,??? is considered the third investment made by the son of the assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The family also owns a large stake in the Arab Bank, the largest bank in the Arab world, and has invested in the Abdali Development Project in Amman.

Advertisements of the project were spread along the way from Amman to the Dead Sea to attract the attention of participants at the WEF.

Saturday, May 21, 2005
[tags]jordan, amman, business, saraya, arab bank, tourism, aqaba[/tags]

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