Abu Dhabi-based AD Ports Group has announced the opening of the first cruise terminal in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, thus marking the first of its five strategic mega-projects being planned in the kingdom. AD Ports Group will manage and operate the new cruise terminal.
Aqaba Cruise Terminal, a world-class facility for international cruise passengers looking to visit Jordan, specifically Aqaba, Petra and Wadi Rum, will be managed and operated by AD Ports Group.
The terminal launch coincides with the arrival of the cruise vessel MSC Splendida carrying more than 2,000 visitors to Jordan.
The new Aqaba Cruise Terminal marks the launch of the first of five strategic mega-projects planned between AD Ports Group - the global facilitator of logistics, industry and trade - and Aqaba Development Corporation to advance the coastal city’s tourism, logistics and transport sectors, it stated.
The inauguration ceremony was held under the patronage of Prime Minister Dr Bisher Khasawneh, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Mohammed Bin Khalid Al Nahyan, UAE Ambassador to Jordan, and Tawfiq Kreishan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Administration in Jordan.
A joint project by AD Ports Group and Aqaba Development Corporation, it is aimed at bolstering the coastal city’s position as a regional tourism centre and gateway for travellers visiting the Red Sea.
More than 50 vessels are scheduled to dock at the Aqaba Cruise Terminal over the next four months, bringing tens of thousands of visitors to the popular winter-sun destination.
A role model of a successful public-private partnership, the Aqaba Cruise Terminal provides an exceptional travel experience, setting Jordan as a pivotal destination for leisure travellers and signifying economic prosperity, said a statement from AD Ports Group.
The Aqaba Cruise Terminal comprises a 700-metre quay wall, passenger and luggage hall, indoor retail spaces, free Wi-Fi, prayer rooms and offices.
The ultra-modern facility is a one-stop-shop for multiple government stakeholders serving the cruise business, improving processes, procedures and services and making it an attractive destination for cruise lines, thereby increasing ship call opportunities and passenger volumes, while ultimately boosting the economy at large, it stated.
Sheikh Khalifa and Kreishan took a tour and were briefed by Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Managing Director and Group CEO of AD Ports Group, on the facility’s wide array of amenities and services that cater to the needs and expectations of international tourists visiting the kingdom.
Sheikh Khalifa said: "The Aqaba Cruise Terminal is the result of the active cooperation and strategic partnership between the UAE and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Our longstanding, deep-rooted brotherly relations throughout history have today reached advanced levels of coordination on numerous fronts, with both countries serving as model examples of collaboration, wisdom, reason, peace, tolerance and forgiveness for the region and the world."
"The UAE is a key strategic partner for Jordan in a number of fields and is keen to propel mutual economic and investment cooperation to greater heights, while building on existing partnerships across different domains. Trade volumes amounted to around $3 billon last year, and UAE investments in Jordan reached over $17 billion," he noted.
Group Chairman Falah Mohammad Al Ahbabi said the inauguration reflects the ongoing cooperation and strategic partnership between the two brotherly nations, propelling them to new heights.
"As the first and only facility of its kind in the country, the Aqaba Cruise Terminal not only offers an unprecedented opportunity to tap into the fast-growing cruise industry, but also enables us to share our longstanding expertise in operating leading-edge cruise terminals, while supporting AD Ports Group’s international growth strategy by leveraging Aqaba’s pivotal location and vast potential as a regional hub on the Red Sea," he stated.
Engineer Nayef Fayez, Chief Commissioner of ASEZA, Chairman of Aqaba Development Corporation, said: "We remain committed to transforming the city of Aqaba into a competitive investment, commercial and tourism destination on the Red Sea, and the successful inauguration of the Aqaba Cruise Terminal today aligns with these endeavours."
"We thank our partners at AD Ports Group for believing in the vast potential of Aqaba and for sharing our ongoing efforts to stimulate and enhance sustainable economic activity at one of Jordan’s most vital gateways," he added.
Captain Al Shamisi said this new facility seeks to elevate Aqaba’s travel experience and leverage its prime location and growth potential to attract tens of thousands of international visitors to explore Jordan’s top attractions, thereby adding economic value to the coastal city while establishing its position as a destination of choice in the Levant region.
Aqaba Development Corporation CEO Hussein Safadi said: "This strategic partnership serves as a testament to the steadfast collaboration between Jordan and the UAE, firmly positioning Aqaba as a major player within the global arena, while helping promote national plans and drive economic prosperity."
"Not only that, but the subsequent digital transformation resulting from this partnership will also foster a new ecosystem that significantly enhances the resilience of Aqaba’s maritime sector," he added.
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