Business Hub on the Red Sea – Aqaba

My vision for Aqaba is to be a cosmopolitan city with people from all walks of life and from all over the world who do business in the Middle East and can call Aqaba home.

Mohammed Turk Vice Chairman and CEO ADC

What are the advantages for international companies operating from Aqaba

Aside from Aqaba’s· wonderful location· on the cross roads between Jordan Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ)· is a·· true one stop shop for business operations.· At ADC, we want investors to concentrate on doing their business and let us take care of the rest.· We are very encouraging of public private partnerships and moreover, logistically, it is a very sound decision to use Aqaba as a distribution hub for business due to its strategic location and ease of doing business.· Furthermore, in the future Aqaba will continue to serve as a main gateway to Iraq introducing many new opportunities for business.· As a whole we hope to offer the full package for prospective companies to make Aqaba their home.

Aqaba is a Special Economic Zone , what does that imply for international investors?

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone has its own law that allows the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority to preside over all licensing and customs, taxes, and duties.· The zone is a true example of decentralization and flexibility in the decision making process. The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Law also guarantees investors a number of business incentives that very much add to the competitiveness of Aqaba.·

Aqaba-General-2Photo Jordan Tourism Board

You have just recently been appointed to your position so what is your fresh perspective and new strategic outlook for Aqaba?· How do you see Aqaba in the future?

Naturally being a newcomer I needed to assess the situation around me to see what is missing.·· I think that my predecessors have done a great job laying the foundation for making a great investment area, and attracting great investments to the Zone. However, my first goal is to ensure that investors continue to be pleased and satisfied.· Second, we need to build internal capacity within ADC to make sure we meet upcoming challenges and international service standards.· Third, we need to pinpoint certain projects and package them to investors .

What are some of these packages you are planning to do?

As you know ADC own the· ports, airport, and strategic parcels of land. ADC continues its efforts to attract investors to establish storage and logistics complexes , logistics services, offices and housing villages to cope with the developments taking place.· In addition to developing the infrastructure of major investment locations, which fall in line with His Majesty King Abdullah’s visions and contribute to achieving the main objective of the Zone.
Moreover, ADC is still to contribute to the developing of the tourism industry by attracting more investments in the tourism and recreational sector. We also look forward to attracting more investments in the education sector. Aqaba’s growth as an education hub is vital to achieving its vision.
Relocating the main port from its current location to the Sothern industrial zone remains a priority.·

What measures are you implementing to mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis and lure investors to Aqaba?

ADC has been very successful in Aqaba, especially when it comes to the tourism and logistics sectors.· By satisfying our investors we are able to attract more investors.· The opportunities are amazing here and we are very serious about satisfying our investors to the fullest; nothing is impossible and we do not like to say no.· We like to sense their needs and work towards making their business happen.· ADC has different financial models for catering for different investments and with feasible projects in line investors will come in especially because ADC is owned by the government and our intentions and plans are to develop Aqaba and transform it into a world class business and leisure hub.· We are here to build up both our investors and our country equally.

Aqaba HotelsPhoto Jordan Tourism Board

What are some of the unique opportunities Aqaba offers?

When it comes to Iraq and neighboring countries, Aqaba offers competitive options both in land, sea, and air that are open for investment.· There are also still viable opportunities in education and tourism.· We have 27 kilometers of shoreline that are very dear to us and need to be utilized wisely, thus the ASEZ Master plan places great importance on keeping tourism and heavy industry separate.

Our team and government believes we must not disturb Aqaba with industry and we plan to absorb heavy industry in Maan, which is only 100 km away.

What are some of the strategic challenge you feel you will face in this position?

Like any other position when you enter a new area and want to make changes you are met with resistance.· The old saying “don’t change too much too fast” seems to apply here so I am working diligently to assess and build capacity within my team in ADC .·· It is a challenge but it is very doable considering how far Aqaba has come in such a short time.· I am very optimistic that the challenges wont be too difficult to overcome.

What can you bring from your previous experiences that you would like to implement at ADC?

In Maan Development Area the task was to bring investment to a remote area and· we did it.· As for Aqaba I· believe· that investors will come· here due to· the investment competitive· law and regulations here.· The positive attitude that ADC carries as the development arm for the Zone in charge of developing Aqaba is an important point that I emphasize· . I am trying to imbed in my team the will to go out of their way to satisfy our investors and take care of their needs.· We are going to deal with small-medium investments and big investments equally

Do you feel that this area has previously been neglected?

No, Aqaba has been in the spotlight for the past ten years under his Majesty· King Abdullah II’s. It is his Majesty’s vision of transforming Aqaba into a world class Red· Sea business hub and leisure destination that resulted in transforming the sleepy port town of Aqaba into one of Jordan’s leading economic generators by turning Aqaba into a special economic zone in 2001.··· A lot of money has been invested into developing the infrastructure and Aqaba’s multi modal transportation network, however, I believe that there are missing links here still and need to be addressed to help the pieces of the puzzle better fit together.·

Can you give us an example of what you are trying to bring to education in Aqaba?

Aqaba is more· than a pleasant place for students to spend their· university years in. The Zone as it develops into a cosmopolitan city creates a great hub for learning , developing and working.·

Aqaba needs more universities and thus, we welcome more investment into this sector.· We are working with the government to provide incentives for institutions like schools, universities· and even hospital to come to Aqaba . Moreover, one of ADC’s first projects was Aqaba International School so as to insure that residents and expats living in Aqaba as given access to international standard education.

What are some things that still need to be developed in Aqaba to make expats feel more at home and also fulfill your vision?

We are working to improve the city to create more walkways, make the area more green and landscaped, better celebrate and highlight Aqaba’s unique character , culture and heritage.· We need to fill in the gaps with schools and private hospitals to improve the· welfare of local economy so that the residents feel that all their needs can be met here.· If you move to Aqaba you will be met with great economic benefits and living facilities but we also need to fill in the gaps .

How do you envision Aqaba in five years?

My vision for Aqaba is to be a cosmopolitan city with people from all walks of life and from all over the world who do business in the Middle East and can call Aqaba home.· My team and I are working very hard to prepare Aqaba to take on this role.·

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