Interview with HE Nasser Shraideh, Chief Commissioner of Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA)
What have been the achievements of Aqaba Special Economic Zone since its inception?
In our more than 16 years of existence, we have been able not only to create a legal framework which is quite attractive and competitive for doing business in Jordan and with the region, but also to establish a world-class infrastructure to stimulate investment. Aqaba today is an emerging economic zone, it offers a large spectrum of business opportunities, industry, tourism and services; it offers high potential for trade, export and transit to other markets in the region and Africa. It also offers political will towards establishing partnerships that will attract quality investments to add value to the local economy and create jobs.
How does ASEZA contribute to Vision 2025?
Through a number of key targets and performance indicators. By 2025 we aim to increase the number of tourists from 600,000 each year to over 1.5 million. We also want to attract an additional investment of $10 billion over the next seven years in various economic sectors up to a total of $30 billion, and to double the number of industrial zones in Aqaba from three to six. We will double the number of logistic hubs from five to ten, and the capacity of our cargo and container ports should reach 40 billion tonnes by 2025. This will be also supported by key infrastructure projects, like a railway to connect the container terminal and the southern port to the Ma’an Airport, so that we achieve a track-free zone.
What actions will you take to achieve these targeted figures?
Within the tourism sector we will be more aggressive in promoting Aqaba in new markets, introducing new touristic products and attractions apart from our cultural sites such as Petra and Wadi Rum, as well as the Red Sea. We’ll promote our mega tourism projects Ayla, Marsa Zayed and Tala Bay to increase the flow of tourists into Aqaba. We are making Aqaba more competitive by introducing new policies to encourage the service sector to grow, as well as improving the legal framework to provide logistic centres with free zone status; this will allow them to re-export and carry out transit trade more effectively and without restrictions.