, Al-ʻAqabah) is a coastal town in the far south of Jordan. It is the capital‫: العقبة‬Arabic) of Aqaba Governorate. Aqaba is strategically important to Jordan as it is the country's only seaport. The city borders Eilat, Israel, and there is a border post where it is possible to cross between the two countries (see Wadi Araba Crossing). Both Aqaba and Eilat are at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Aqaba is best known today as a diving and beach resort, but industrial activity remains important to the area, and the town is an exporter of phosphate and some shells. The town is also an important .administrative center within the far south of Jordan Aqaba has been an inhabited settlement since 4000 BC profiting from its strategic location at the junction of trading routes between Asia, Africa, and Europe. The early settlement was presumably Edomite in ancient times. It was a center of the Edomites, and then of the Arab Nabataeans, during the first century B.C. who populated the region extensively. The Bible refers to the area in (1 Kings 9:26) "King Solomon also built ships in Ezion-Geber, which is near Ayla in Edom, on the shores of the Red Sea." This verse probably refers to an Iron Age port city on the same ground as modern Aqaba. The Ptolemaic Greeks called it Berenice, and the Romans Aila and Aelana.[2] During Roman times, the great long distance road the Via Traiana Nova led south from Damascus through Amman, terminating in Aqaba, where it connected with a west road leading to Philistia and Egypt. Around 106 A.D. Aqaba was one of the main ports for the Romans.[3]

Aqaba fort built by the Mamluks in the 13th century

The Aqaba Archaeological Museum Soon after the Islamic conquests, it came under the rule of the Islamic Caliphate, and thereafter passed through the hands of such dynasties as the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids and Mamluks. The early days of the Islamic era saw the construction of the

led by T.000 square kilometers of desertland in Jordan's interior. In August 2000. the Saudis traded 12 kilometers of prime coastline to the south of Aqaba. During the 12th century. The law established the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA)[4] as the statutory institution empowered with regulatory. E. In addition to the extra land for expansion of the port. the Mamluk dynasty had fallen into decline and the area came under the influence of the Turkish/Ottoman Empire. By 1187. King Hussein attempted to give Aqaba room to grow by trading land with Saudi Arabia. known as the Battle of Aqaba. administrative. Demographics . Aqaba was ceded to the British protectorate of Transjordan in 1925. and more importantly alleviated a threat of a Turkish offensive onto the strategically important Suez Canal. By the beginning of the 16th century. the swap also gave the country access to the magnificent Yamanieh coral of Ayla (fr). The ruins of Ayla (unearthed in the 1980s by an American-Jordanian archeological team) are a few minutes walk north along the main waterfront road. Lawrence and the Arab forces of Sharif Hussein in 1917. the city declined in status. In addition to building a stronghold within Aqaba. near the shore of Sinai). In return for 6. Qansah al-Ghouri. making the territory part of the Kingdom of Hejaz. The Mamluks took over in 1250 and rebuilt the fort in the 14th century under one of the last Mamluk sultans. the Crusaders fortified the small island of Ile de Graye (now known as Pharaoh's Island. now lies in Egyptian territorial waters about 7 kilometers west of Aqaba. under the rule of Prince Faisal. During the following period. which remains relatively well-preserved today. the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Law was passed by the Jordanian Parliament. by Saladin. the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem controlled the area and built their fortress of Helim. In 1965. fiscal and economic responsibilities within the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). both Aqaba and the island had been recaptured. for 400 years remaining a simple fishing village of little significance. During World War I. for Muslim rule. The capture of Aqaba helped open supply lines from Egypt up to Arab and British forces afield further north in Transjordan and Greater Palestine. the occupying Ottoman forces were forced to withdraw from the town after a raid. which was lying in ruins close by. Some stories in the famous Arabian Nights also refer to Sinbad adventures to take the sea from this port city of Ayla. Aqaba was a major site for imports of Iraqi goods in the 1980s until the Persian Gulf War. which was described by the geographer Shams Eddin Muqaddasi as being next to the true settlement.

1 to 17. and an Aqaba neighborhood in the background A special census for Aqaba city was carried by the Jordanian department of statistics in 2007.000 6 Persons per houshold 4.400 5.000 2 Growth rate 4.3% 2. .350.9 51.5 4 Ratio of Jordanians to Foreign Nationals 82.The ruins of the historic city of Ayla.9 5. the results of the census compared to the national level are indicated as follows: Demographic data of the city of Aqaba (2007) compared to Kingdom of Jordan nationwide[5] Aqaba City (2007) Jordan (2004 census) 1 Total population 98.5 to 48.1 to 43.3 [edit] Tourism A sign in the Aqaba coral reef coastline.3% 3 Male to Female ratio 56.425 946.9 93 to 7 5 Number of households 18.

000. Approximately 65%. A beach in Aqaba.000 visiting during the year.000 were Jordanians. in which locals and visitors alike come to relax after a hot day. In 2006. Jordanians from the north. the Tourism Division of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) reported that the number of tourists visiting the Zone in 2006 rose to about 432. Of foreign tourists.Coral reefs in Aqaba. [6] During national holidays. with about 98. or 293. . hotel occupancy reaches 100%. The Distant Festival held at Aqaba on the last Thursday of July and the following day at Aqaba and Wadi Rum which features the world's most famous trance and electronica dancers. It also offers activities which take advantage of its desert location. The division has financed tourism advertising and media campaigns with the assistance of the European Union. Aqaba has been chosen for the site of a new waterfront building project that would rebuild Aqaba with new man-made water structures. and baqlawa desserts. Its many coffee shops offer mansaf and knafeh. Europeans visited the Zone in the largest numbers. and more tourist services to place Aqaba on the investment map and challenge other centers of waterfront development throughout the region. an increase of 5% over previous year. fun in the sand as well as watersports like windsurfing and Scuba diving. flock to Aqaba's luxury resorts and sandy beaches. During these holiday weekends. Aqaba is well known for its beach resorts and luxury hotels. particularly Amman and Irbid. Another very popular venue is the Turkish Bath (Hamam) built in 306AD. The gulf of Aqaba is one of the top diving destinations in the world. which service those who come for diving. new high-rise residential and office buildings.

New projects like Tala Bay and Saraya al Aqaba are well under construction which will provide high-end vacation and residential homes to locals and foreigners alike. New resorts are being constructed. Aqaba has also attracted global logistic companies such as APM Terminals and Agility to invest in logistics.Aqaba has been chosen as the Arab Tourism City of 2011. The Red Sea Summit in Aqaba in 2003 There are numerous hotels that reside in Aqaba but new hotels are also under construction. Over twenty billion dollars have been invested in Aqaba since 2001 when the Special Economic Zone was established. Along with tourism projects. . but most are still on its leveling stage.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] [edit] Economy A street in Aqaba The Aqaba Flagpole and the port of Aqaba Shops in Aqaba downtown Aqaba's economy is skyrocketing because of the economic zone. which boosted the city's status as a transport and logistics hub.

apartments. • Tala Bay. Aqaba's current port will be relocated to the southernmost part of the province near the Saudi border. a $500 million resort with a manmade lagoon. • Aqaba will be connected by the national rail system which will be completed by 2013. while freeing up space for development in the city. • Ayla Oasis. a rave held August 1. villas and townhouses for more than 50. a $1 billion resort around a man made lagoon with luxury hotels. Over $20 billion worth of investment is pouring into Aqaba by Gulf and European investors which overshadows Eilat. and it will be completed by 2013. deals worth $14bn were inked. Part of the Jordanian government's initiative to double its tourism economy by 2010. To accommodate the rise in trade on the back of the increasing popularity of container shipping and the stabilising political situation in Iraq. This project will be completed by 2017. an increase of 41. luxury hotels. a 18-hole golf course.000 people. Plans for upgrading the King Hussein International Airport (KHIA) and the development of a logistics centre will also help position Aqaba as a regional hub for trade and transport. By 2006 the ASEZ had attracted $8bn in committed investments. beating its $6bn target by 2020 by a third and more in less than a decade. A water park is part of the project. • Marsa Zayed. This project will be completed by 2017. It is already completed. villas. Its capacity will surpass that of the current port. It also has an Arabian Venice theme with apartment buildings built along canals only accessible by walkway or boat.6% on the previous year. the prosperous Israeli Red Sea resort only several miles away. and townhouses that will be completed by 2010. which maximizes frontage on the Gulf of Aqaba to create a vibrant mixed-use community.[15] • . Marsa Zayed is designed to help fuel the country's growth by providing more than 300 yacht berths in a luxury marina.Aqaba is the only seaport of Jordan so virtually all of Jordan's exports depart from here. The project costs $5 billion. and Syria. The rail project will connect Aqaba with all Jordan's main cities and economic centers and several countries like Saudi Arabia. but in 2009 alone. the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) has announced plans for a new port. The goal was adjusted to bring in another $12bn by 2020. • The Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT) handled a record 587. [1] • Port relocation. Iraq. villas. The port relocation 20 km to the south will cost an estimated $600m and will improve infrastructure. It also has a beach club that hosts the annual Distant Heat Festival. a $700 million resort with a man made lagoon. luxury hotels such as the Hilton and villas.530 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2008. a cruise ship terminal and a mix of hotels.[15] Some projects currently under construction are: Saraya Aqaba. a $10 billion marina community that is the largest real estate project in Jordan's history.

Marina city in Aqaba [edit] Transportation A Royal Jordanian aircraft in King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba Mountains to the north of Aqaba on the desert highway. .

Israel by the Wadi Araba crossing and to Haql. By Sea . The Aqaba railway system is only used for cargo transportation and no longer functions for travellers. Saudi Arabia by the Durra Border Crossing. Taxi services are also available between Aqaba and Eilat. There are many bus services between Aqaba and Amman and the other major cities in Jordan. with the exception of the route to Wadi Rum.[16] These buses use the Desert Highway. JETT and Trust International are the most common lines.Aqaba train station Wadi Araba crossing Port of Aqaba [edit] By Land The city is connected to the rest of Jordan by the Desert Highway and the Dead Sea Highway. Aqaba is connected to Eilat.

The Arab Bridge Maritime company vessels connect Aqaba to the Egyptian ports of Taba and Nuweiba. Dubai and Alexandria and several destinations in Europe. An Abu Dhabi consortium of companies called 'Al Maabar' has won the bid to relocate and manage the Aqaba Port for 30 years and expand the existing ferry terminal which receives about 1. [edit] By Air King Hussein International Airport connects Aqaba to Amman. . Sharm el-Sheikh.3 million passengers and thousands of trucks and cars coming from across the shore in Egypt. More than one million passengers travelled between Aqaba and the ports of Nuweiba and Sharm el-Sheikh by ferrys.

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