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ASEZA, partners urged to stimulate investment, tourism

By JT - Jul 30,2015 - Last updated at Jul 30,2015

His Majesty King Abdullah meets with Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority’s chief commissioner and commissioners in Aqaba on Wednesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday stressed the important role of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) in supporting and developing the national economy.

He highlighted the status of the special zone as a “regional economic and tourist hub”.

During a visit to ASEZA headquarters, where he met its Chief Commissioner Hani Mulki and council of commissioners, King Abdullah urged further cooperation and coordination between public and private institutions to boost Aqaba's reputation as an investment-friendly environment.

At the meeting, also attended by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, the King commended the efforts exerted to build the liquefied natural gas and the liquefied petroleum gas terminals for their vital role in enhancing the Kingdom's capability to address the energy problem, according to a Royal Court statement.

These schemes are vital due to their potential financial revenues and in terms of job generation, His Majesty underlined.

At a different level, the two terminals help achieve Arab economic integration, King Abdullah noted, especially since Aqaba is the only terminal that can serve the Arab Gas Pipeline.

The King also directed the government to take all necessary measures to carry on with planned investments in the port city, and address all obstacles facing these projects.

All stakeholders and civil society entities should be engaged in Aqaba’s decision making process, especially when it comes to setting priorities, while all should work hand-in-hand to ensure full implementation of the agreed-on plans, King Abdullah stressed.

In this context, the Monarch called for improving the investment environment in Aqaba, revisiting the incentives offered to the private sector and removing all hindrances that face investors in the zone. 

Similar efforts are needed to stimulate tourism in Aqaba, the King told ASEZA officials. This can be done, he said, through developing tools used to encourage tourists to plan vacations in this Red Sea resort, naming better air transportation services as key to achieving this goal. 

King Abdullah also stressed the importance of taking advantage of the geographic location of Aqaba as a commercial and logistic hub and a vital exports centre linking Asian countries and North Africa.

At the meeting, His Majesty also listened to a briefing from Mulki on the achievements ASEZA has realised in different fields and the capacity building efforts targeting affiliated institutions.

Mulki underlined the growth of ASEZA’s contribution to the national gross product by 56 per cent between 2000 and 2015, after the area lured tourist, industrial and real estate projects worth $16 billion.

He also pointed out projects implemented to stimulate economic activity in Aqaba, referring to the two gas terminals as  bright examples, since they are likely to enhance the Kingdom’s energy sector and that of the region.

Ensour expressed the government’s keenness on “full partnership” with the private sector to overcome obstacles facing some sectors in ASEZA, in a way that would boost the economic situation in the zone.

 

He also stressed a government decision not to renew an exclusive agreement with the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company and therefore open up investment options to update the refinery or building a new one in Maan, in addition to installing a pipeline to transfer oil from Aqaba to Maan for this purpose.

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