The sun and sea and mountains change color by the hour in Aqaba, Jordan's only port city, and an ideal place to visit any time of the year. But Aqaba has reached only half of its potential as a world-class tourism destination.
A shortage of skilled labor to support tourism is one of several roadblocks. This is about to change. With technical assistance from Nathan's USAID-funded AZEM project, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and the Aqaba Development Corporation are helping to create new investments and jobs in the tourism sector.
AZEM recently awarded its first grant, allowing 14 students to enter the hotel management program of Aqaba College, and another 26 students--10 of them women--to begin studying under a new tourism major established at the college. Administered by the Princess Basma Center in Aqaba, the grant covers fees and most of the tuition for a two-year associate degree. Local students continue to apply for the grants in significant numbers. This bodes well for Aqaba's employers and the expanding tourism sector. Through such grants the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and the Aqaba Development Corporation will enable the local community to share in the economic development of Aqaba.