Foundation stone of laid for Saraya Aqaba Project
On behalf of King Abdullah II, Prince Faisal bin al-Hussein laid the foundation stone of Saraya Aqaba Project on Saturday, in the presence of Ali Kolaghassi, vice-chairman of Saraya Jordan, the project's partners, senior local and Arab officials and media representatives.
The ceremony signals the commencement of the construction phase for Saraya Aqaba and the overall development of the project which is expected to be completed in January 2009.
Saraya Aqaba is Saraya Jordan’s first project and seeks to introduce a vibrant and eclectic holiday experience in the heart of the port city of Aqaba, benefiting both the tourism industry as well as the community there.
"I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation of His Majesty King Abdullah's immense support in enabling us to make Saraya Aqaba a reality, and would also like to praise the efforts of the Jordanian government which have created a fertile and ‘investment-friendly’ environment for all foreign investors," said Kolaghassi.
"Our efforts in the Kingdom, starting with Aqaba, are in complete alignment with His Majesty King Abdullah's drive to place Jordan on the world map by attracting foreign and Arab investments with a favorable investment climate,” he added.
Saraya Aqaba is a beachfront city built around a man-made lagoon, spanning approximately 610,000sq m. It will be developed in an environmentally friendly and culturally conscious manner, contributing to the enhancement of tourism in Aqaba.
Launched in 2005, Saraya Aqaba came as a direct commitment from Saraya Jordan to become a major player in the Jordanian tourism industry as a whole, by introducing distinguished and attractive destinations that will enhance and propel the country's efforts to become an attractive tourism destination.
Commenting on the developments that have taken place in Saraya Aqaba, Kolaghassi said: "As part of our commitment to partaking in the growth of Jordan, our first project, Saraya Aqaba, announced early last year, came as a direct result of our keen interest in contributing to the incredible development taking place in the city of Aqaba, especially in the tourism field. Today His Majesty King Abdullah honors us by attending and placing the foundation stone for this project, thereby officially signaling the commencement of the construction phase.”
As part of Saraya’s mission to create unique world class tourist attractions, Saraya Aqaba has signed several agreements with a number of renowned international corporations such as Saudi Oger Ltd., the exclusive contractor for Saraya's development projects, as well as the hospitality operators Jumeirah and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, to operate Saraya Aqaba's hotels as well as its water park.
Saraya Aqaba will play a significant role in supporting economic development in the Kingdom. The project is expected to create over 3,000 job opportunities during the construction phase, and over 6,000 job opportunities thereafter.
As one of a series of social responsibility initiatives that are planned for the community of Aqaba, Saraya Aqaba launched a scholarship fund during the Jordan Economic Forum in November 2005. The fund will be effective for the academic term beginning fall 2006, providing full study-abroad scholarships to high school graduates to obtain a bachelor degree in the hotel and hospitality industry and come back to work at Saraya Aqaba's 5-star hotels upon successful completion.
Situated on the western tip of Aqaba, Saraya Aqaba and its man-made lagoon will commence operations in 2009, adding approximately 1.5km of beachfront to the Gulf of Aqaba.
The project will offer shopping, dining, entertainment and cultural activities within the context of an authentically styled ancient city. The total project cost is estimated over US$600 million.
© 2006 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)