AqabaPlanning, Urban Design, Infrastructure, Public-Private Partnerships & Project Implementation*
Urban Redevelopment, Expansion & Environmental Management
|Dr. J. Michael Cobb IDC International Development Consultants, LLC||Aqaba city & main port|
The descriptions below, and the accompanying material, illustrate my main activities, projects and responsibilities in Jordan related to planning and development of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ), beginning in 2004 until the first quarter 2007.
In addition to examples from various physical plans and data tables, three other items are included.
1. Aqaba's Strategy for Investing in redevelopment and growth.
A brief abridged summary of the Aqaba 2005-2009 Business Plan, (taken from public information previously released by ADC), is presented, Developed and authored under my direction, the business plan highlights the prime planning and investment strategies adopted by ADC for redevelopment as well as future growth of Aqaba city and the special economic region. This business plan is also a required legal component of the MDA, discussed below. Click here for a review of illustrative components included in the Business Plan presentation.
2. Aqaba's Unique Institutional Framework
An innovative and unique public-private arrangement was developed for guiding the growth and development of Aqaba. Termed the MDA, The Management Development Agreement between ASEZA (the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority) and ADC (the Aqaba Development Corporation) specifies the urban planning, urban design and related "regulatory" responsibilities of ASEZA and the related urban design and project development responsibilities of ADC for zone-wide as well as specific spatial areas and sector based planning and investment. These areas include:
The MDA took over a year for ADC and ASEZA to negotiate and received final approval by Jordan's National Council of Ministers in 2006. I was co-author and shared prime responsibility to ADC and ASEZA for this work. Click here for further information on the MDA, including related information previously released by ADC outlining the duties and responsibilities of ASEZA and ADC.
3. Aqaba's Public-Private-Partnership Program
Extracts from a a PPP analysis, evaluation and financing recommendations presentation for a new ferry terminal. In addition to the ferry terminal relocation, ADC and its consultants conducted numerous PPP analyses for the development and redevelopment of Aqaba, including: the main port relocation- new mixed use waterfront tourism projects; all seven terminals; the airport expansion; the rail line relocation and extension; utilities expansions and other projects.
A prime ADC mandate is to maximize private sector participation. Other than social enablers, therefore, all internal or investor initiated infrastructure or commercial development candidates undergo PPP evaluation potential. I was ADC's senior advisor and tasks manager for internal and external consultants PPP work.
Click here to review selected elements of a preliminary presentation of the new ferry terminal PPP analysis .
|Regional context ... Small scale "invasion" vendors on city's main public beach .. Many "surface" artesian wells in this large palm grove adjacent to main public beach|
Summary - Duties &
J. Michael Cobb
its establishment in 2004 and until early 2007, I served as as a Senior
Advisor to the Chairman (including serving as interim Chief Operating
Officer) for the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC),
the development arm of the newly established Aqaba Special Economic Zone
To guide and implement the development of Aqaba,
With ADC, and in coordination with ASEZA, I've had senior responsibilities for strategic and spatial planning, managing urban design and architectural concepts for strategic facilities and infrastructure, formulation of PPP project initiatives and project implementation for over two billion USD in new development and redevelopment projects and programs. My duties also included public meeting, extensive coordination with various local, national and international agencies, AE contract management, securing project specific stakeholder agreements, financing and funding strategies, investment programming and ADC program implementation planning and management.
Major projects work has include planning for relocation of Aqaba's main in-town industrial cargo terminal operations and redevelopment of this prime location into a major world-class mixed-use urban waterfront zone, while also integrating this urban waterfront redevelopment into revitalization of the adjacent Aqaba old-town. (See the Concept Plan below. Also, click here to see ADC's December 2006 international press announcement regarding this major project.)
A key challenge to eventual realization of the urban waterfront redevelopment is firstly to plan, finance and construct a new basin and extensive new berthing and port terminal facilities in the southern industrial zone, thus enabling uninterrupted port operations in the new southern port thus freeing the main in-town port for redevelopment.
|2030 Aqaba Zone Land Use Plan Click here for larger view Old town area Into old town Plan for Old town rehabilitation ... being implemented Click here for larger view Coastal corridor plan for mixed-use urban tourism and waterfront development Aqaba International Airport Master Plan South Industrial Zone & Terminal Adjacent to Saudi Arabian border Click here for larger view New South Port Development & Industrial Master Plan Click here for larger view.|
|Concept Plan Main Port Urban-Tourism Waterfront Redevelopment|
Rail Line Relocation & Extension
Another critical enabling component of this in-town industrial port operations transfer south and resulting waterfront renewal involves relocation of the industrial rail line (photo above) out of downtown and extending it 19 km through the mountainous coastline to the new port facilities near the Saudi border. (See map at right). A variety of other infrastructure initiatives are also being planned including desalinization plants, water re-use programs and the planning of a major eco-tourism and preservation zone adjacent to Aqaba's world renowned coastal coral zones in the Gulf of Aqaba.
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Social, Gender & Educational Projects
In addition to major infrastructure and spatial planning projects, another vital element of my work with ADC involved developing social and educational initiatives essential to enabling the sustainable development of Aqaba and its local communities. Initial completed and on-going projects include:
As Aqaba is the Jordan's only port and its prime trading gateway to the world, developing and extending the railway system from Aqaba to the rest of Jordan and its Middle East neighbors is essential to the competitive economic development of the nation. I've been pleased to assist this import undertaking as a member of Jordanís Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee overseeing development of the National Railway Plan.
|Tala Bay New Village||
Tala Bay - New Marina Town
Being development along Aqaba's Coral Coast Ecotourism Zone (plan shown at right). About 12 km south of Aqaba Town, Tala Bay Marina Town is one of the new marina villages in this Ecotourism Zone which encompasses a marine coral preserve, a terrestrial native habitat preserve, home of the new university site, and other special or restrictive developments.) Also, this Eco zone is only about 4 km just north of the Southern Industrial Area and Port Zone (plan shown to the above right).
Coast" Ecotourism Plan
for larger view
|* Note: Except for the author's explanatory writings and observations, all Aqaba data & exhibits presented on this website are based on information previously and publicly released by ADC, ASEZA or other entities within Jordan. Please see the Jordanian government's ASEZA and ADC websites for the latest information for regarding the Aqaba Sepcial Economic Zone and its many private and public sector investment projects and potentials.|
Observations and Challenges Ahead
As Jordanís only port city and sitting at the crossroads of four countries, Aqaba has long played a historic role as an international trading center linking countries in Asia and the southern hemisphere to those in the Levant region and beyond. And it has been a traditional major trading gateway into Iraq before and during the recent conflicts. As an international tourism destination, Aqaba is a major part of the "Golden Triangle" which includes Petra and Wadi Rum and continues to be the prime import/export center for Jordan.
Although having only a 19 mile coastline on the Red Sea, Aqaba possesses one of the world's most beautiful and valued marine coral ecosystems and today is home to a vibrant city of 100,000 residents. As of mid 2009, investments in the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) had reached $18 billion, representing 300 per cent more than the $6 billion targeted in 2001 to be reached by 2020. And within the next few years the current main port industrial activities will be moved south to new port facilities near the Saudi border. This new southern port area will include a general cargo terminal, various industrial ports and a new ferry terminal. thus allowing ADC and investors to inject over $10 billion in the redeveloping the current main port into a new waterfront harbor area of luxury hotels, office towers, an expanded cruise terminal and seaside residential communities.
By any economic measure,
therefore, the development of Aqaba during the past ten years has been an
outstanding success. ASEZA
and ADC, along with the national government of
The above observations are intended to provide an overall perspective regarding the accomplishments as well as the continued difficulties and challenges associated with my work for ADC and ASEZA in Jordan.
For several years I was fortunate to have had an opportunity to have hands-on involvement with much of the physical planning, urban design and national urban and transport policy work associated with the growth and development of Aqaba and the Kingdom of Jordan. And while I was charged with providing much of the technical direction and management of the work cited, please note that that numerous others were involved in providing major input to each of these activities. These groups included international and Jordanian consulting firms, local and national industry leaders, civic and environmental groups and numerous governmental officials. And I especially note that ADC and ASEZA staff, and together with my advisor collegures, deserve much of the credit for whatever positive outcomes may be associate with my work.
And lastly, it's essential that I specially note the contributions made by ADC's senior management, and by the ASEZA Commissioners, to the very challenging and innovative work being done in Aqaba today. Their integrity, complete dedication and continuing tireless efforts are inspiring to all of us as they work for the betterment and future growth of Aqaba and the people of Jordan.
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