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Aqaba - A view from our expert author
The many tourists who come here for the temperate climate, world-renowned diving and snorkelling, sandy beaches, historical sites, cosmopolitan restaurants and a taste of a lifestyle akin to the Mediterranean but with an Arabic twist are joined by thousands of holidaying Jordanians.
Cosmopolitan and historic, Aqaba is located along Jordan’s much-prized coastline off the Gulf of Aqaba and is the country’s only beach resort. As such, the many tourists who come here for the temperate climate, world-renowned diving and snorkelling, sandy beaches, historical sites, cosmopolitan restaurants and a taste of a lifestyle akin to the Mediterranean but with an Arabic twist are joined by thousands of holidaying Jordanians. Many travel the 330km from the capital Amman. At around four hours’ driving time away from the city, or a 45-minute hop by plane, it is understandable that Ammanis head south to the country’s second city at every opportunity. Aqaba, which was chosen by the Arab Tourism Ministers Council as the Arab Tourism Capital in 2011 and is seen as a model world tourism city, bathes in brilliant sunshine most of the year, even in the winter months when Amman and the north is decidedly chilly. Average summer temperatures are around 39°C and in winter temperatures are around 21°C.
Aqaba is often referred to as part of the Red Sea Oasis with the nearby world-renowned attractions of Wadi Rum and the Nabatean city of Petra. It is home to more than 103,000 people, a figure boosted by visitors from not just Jordan’s cities but from around the world most months of the year. It is a popular holiday destination for visitors from the Middle East, Egypt and Europe, who can fly direct into its international airport, or fly via Amman. Along with the climate, a big attraction is its duty-free status, which makes shopping a delight. The city is referred to as the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ), run by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA). It is the capital of the Aqaba Governorate and, as the country’s only seaport through which produce and goods (such as valuable phosphate) are exported, is an important Jordanian city.