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AD Ports deal to transform Jordan’s Aqaba

UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan meets with Jordan's King Hussein in Amman Wam
UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan meets with Jordan's King Hussein in Amman
  • Aim to ‘revolutionise’ port
  • JV to digitalise operations
  • UAE focus on Jordan trade

Abu Dhabi is to play a key role in transforming operations at Aqaba Port, Jordan’s primary trade hub. 

A joint venture company comprising a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports Group and the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) aims to “revolutionise” the port by digitalising operations within a year.

The UAE wants to build on bilateral trade with Jordan, which reached $2 billion in the first six months of 2023.

AD Ports subsidiary Maqta Gateway will take a 51 percent stake in Maqta Ayla, which has been set up to streamline services for Aqaba and Jordan.

The port of Aqaba is situated at the crossroads of three continents and handles 80 percent of Jordan’s exports and 65 percent of its imports. 

Aqaba’s container terminal is the second busiest in terms of volume along the Red Sea and fourth biggest in the region, with an annual traffic of about 1.3 million TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units, a measure of volume used in shipping.

It also serves as a key transit point for trade demands of neighbouring countries.

AD Ports Group managing director and CEO Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi said the deal will support the economic development plans of Jordan and reaffirm the “strong trade ties” between the two nations.

Dr Noura Al Dhaheri, CEO of Maqta Gateway, added: “With digitalisation of ports’ processes, customer and stakeholder experiences will see a huge uplift, boosting trade and driving economic prosperity.”

The deal preceded a visit by UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Amman on Monday where he met Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Last month, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign trade, and Bisher Khasawneh, prime minister of Jordan, also discussed ways of enhancing trade and investment relations at a meeting in Amman.

“There is a mutual will to build on the commercial and investment momentum between the two countries, to improve their relations and create more opportunities for their business communities,” Al Zeyoudi said.

Non-oil trade between the two countries increased by 47 percent in 2022, reaching $4.5 billion, more than double the total in 2020. 

Jordan accounted for 8 percent of the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade with Arab nations while the UAE is also Jordan’s fifth biggest global trading partner and second largest among Arab countries after Saudi Arabia.

In November, the UAE’s Ministry of Investment signed a deal with the government of Jordan to explore potential opportunities across a range of sectors worth more than $2 billion.

The UAE’s direct investments into Jordan last year amounted to $4 billion and accounted for 14 percent of the total foreign direct investments received by the kingdom.

Jordan’s prime minister was quoted as saying last month that the Gaza conflict had stalled growth in the country’s aid-dependent economy.

He said disruptions to Red Sea shipping caused by Houthi militant attacks was the latest blow following a drop in tourism receipts in the months following the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.

In January, the International Monetary Fund approved a $1.2 billion, four-year loan programme to support Jordan’s economic and financial reforms.

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