Prefeasibility study for an investment programme for Aqaba sustainable urban development
INTA member involved : François Noisette (Kalutere Polis)
Aqaba recently became the main urban pole of the southern part of Jordan. Its recent growth is fed by its exceptional location as a sole access to the gulf of Aqaba for Jordan and surrounded region. It emerged as the national seashore resort, attracting international tourist. However this sudden growth led to urban challenges: the city could soon suffer from its degraded urban identity. It also has to become more attractive to educated Jordan people, to sustain a more complex economy, with high level services and administrations.
INTA diagnosed the city challenges on field visits and background documentation. We also met official and key stakeholders to discuss the priorities, as well as local population.
The studies concluded on three critical points in Aqaba’s urban development:
- The real estate development is too unequal, lacking a consistent and realistic overarching vision and disconnecting new suburbs from the city center.
- The culture, architectural and landscape heritage is not highlighted and more serious, threatened by speculative real estate development, overwhelming car usage growth and limited environmental management.
- The City center and the Old Town are disconnected from the waterfront area and the new neighborhood in the north.
INTA then proposed a project strategy, as well as financial analysis.
The project proposed by INTA aims to revitalize the center of Aqaba and link the different parts together in order to reunify its identity and boost its attractiveness. It will connect the new developments of Ayla Oasis, Saraya and Marsa Zayeb in the “Arc of Aqaba”, to enhance the environmental and cultural assets of the city. It will also renovate the sea front and the Al Hayafer promenade. Complementary actions are proposed to enhance the connection between the residential areas and the city centre, improve quality of life and public services of Aqaba inhabitants in deprived neighborhood and launch an ambitious environmental policy.
These actions are important not only for the city of Aqaba, but for Jordan as a whole, since Aqaba is one of its most attractive pole: it is the only port of Jordan, insuring a regional servicing, and very attractive for tourism, being a coastal city and having a rich heritage. In term of tourism, it could follow the development of cities like Sharm El Sheikh or Marrakech, and in term of population, it could reach the threshold of 300 000 inhabitants around 2030. Aqaba has to switch from an average city status to a major city, economically active and with a cultural and touristic vocation, for neighbouring countries and international, to sustain this development. The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) could ensure this transformation with the help of IFIs (International Financial Institutions).
Several projects are proposed to ensure this action plan: 16 investments and 14 soft actions, to improve city management, develop public services, prepare stronger governance and future projects.