June 2005

Completed Projects:

The Greater Amman Municipality inaugurated six parks since the beginning of 2005. These are the Youth Park in Badr, which occupies 1.2 hectares and cost 1.42 million JD (around 2 million $US); the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Park in Khraybat al-Suq, which occupies 1.7 hectares and cost 1.31 million JD (1.85 million $US); the Holy Rock Park in Ras al-'Ayn, which occupies 0.8 hectare and cost 1.17 million JD (1.64 million $US); al-Jubayha Park in the Sports City area; al-Juwaida Park in al-Quwaysmah; andDayr Ghbar Park in Wadi al-Seir. (Source: al-Ra'i, June 5, 2005)

The new Civil Defense Department headquarters in Amman's Shmeisani area were inaugurated. The 17,000 square-meter, five-storey building is located on a 1.1-hectare site. It is built to accommodate 1,200 employees and is earthquake resistant. (Source: The Jordan Times, June 16, 2005).

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities completed 95% of the construction works on the 'Afra and al-Barbita hot springs in al-Tafila area in the south of Jordan. These works comprise phase III of the project, which includes the construction of a service and administration building, new sanitary units, and changing rooms, as well as the reconstruction of the pools. It also includes maintenance of the retaining walls, replacing the metal stairs with stone ones, and installing a pedestrian bridge. Phase I of the project was begun seven years ago and included carrying out infrastructure works. Phase II included the construction of lodging facilities and plazas. The cost of the current third phase of the project is estimated at 1 million JD (1.4 million $US), while the previous phases cost 500,000 JD (around 700,000 $US). (Source: al-Ra'i, June 30, 2005)

The Intercontinental Hotel in Aqaba was inaugurated. The 41,000 square-meter hotel, which is owned by the Social Security Corporation, is located on a 3.2-hectare plot. It includes 255 rooms, a conference center, and the largest swimming pool along the Aqaba shore. The total cost for the project was 40 million JD (around 53 million $US). (Source: al-Ra'i, June 2005)

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 Initiation of Projects:

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) signed an agreement with Dar al-Khibra Contracting Company for the construction of Phase III of al-Karama Project for 6 million JD (8.45 million $US). This phase consists of 275 residential units. These include 149 individual houses and 21 apartment buildings that contain a total of 126 apartments. The whole project is estimated to cost 21 million JD (30 million $US) and is being funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. It will include 757 apartments, 228 serviced plots, commercial facilities, two mosques, two schools, an administration building, a medical center, and green open spaces. This project was designed for the relocation of the inhabitants of al-Shallala informal settlement area to higher quality living facilities. (Source: al-Ra'i, June 7, 2005)

Construction work started on the Sun Days Resort along the Dead Sea shore. The cost of the project is estimated at 42.6 million JD (60 million $US), and is being funded by the Housing Bank for Trade and Finance. The project, which will occupy a 4.75-hectare plot, will include a six-story, five-star hotel of 194 rooms and 20 suites. The resort also will include restaurants, cafés, entertainment facilities, a conference hall, and a business club. In addition, it will feature a water park that can accommodate 2,000 visitors, and a bowling center. The water park is expected to be completed by March 2006, and the hotel is scheduled for completion by the end of 2007. (Source: al-Ra'i, June 20, 2005)

Construction work started on Hidab Hotel in Aqaba. The four-star hotel will include 186 rooms and suites, as well as 200 chalets. The hotel will occupy an area of 120,000 square meters, and is located on a 7.5-hectare plot. (Source: al-Ra'i, June 20, 2005)

The 'Abdali Investment and Development Company, a joint venture between the National Resources Investment and Development Corporation (MAWARED) and Oger Jordan, announced that the three-stage 'Abdali Regeneration Projectwill be completed in five years. The project, which covers a 35-hectare site, will group several sectors including an Information Technology (IT) quarter and a commercial center, as well as a cultural complex. The third and final stage of the scheme will be the construction of the campus of the American University ofAmman and affiliated facilities such as dormitories. The IT quarter, scheduled to be ready for use in four years, will include three towers. An adjacent area will feature shopping centers, high-rise buildings of up to 50 floors containing offices and residential units, as well as plazas and pedestrian passes lined with cafés. The project also will include the King Hussein Memorial Library, a major conference center, and a performing arts building. The 'Abdali Investment and Development Company will undertake the construction of infrastructure and public buildings. The remaining plots will be developed by investors according to building specifications and codes set by the company.

The development of the site, which will include 800,000 square meters of built-up areas, is anticipated to help limit existing traffic problems in this central part of the capital. 'Abdali has suggested a number of traffic solutions, which will be adopted by the Greater Amman Municipality. The municipality will implement these solutions in step with the evolution of the project. The solutions entail the construction of tunnels and bridges at three intersections leading to the project site.

Abdali already has implemented almost 30% of the first stage of the project, which constitutes 60% of total infrastructure works for the project. The costs for this stage are estimated at 25 million JD (35 million $US), whereas the whole investment is estimated at 710 million JD (1 billion $US). (Source: The Jordan Times, June 22, 2005)

Construction work started on the Palace of Justice project in Karak in the south of Jordan. The 8,000 square-meter project will include three stories, a basement, and a roof. The total cost for the project is estimated at 2.89 million JD (around 4 million $US). It will be located on a 1-hectare plot situated between al-Karak Hospital and al-Hussein Camp. The building is expected to be completed during the last third of 2006. (Source: al-Ra'i, June 28, 2005)

Construction work started on the Kempinski Hotel in Aqaba. The 216-room hotel is located on a 1.2-hectare plot, and will include 33,700 square meters of built-up areas. The project is expected to be completed within two years at an estimated cost of 50 million JD (around 70 million $US). (Source: al-Ra'i, June 2005)

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 Completed Designs:

Tibah Consultants completed designs for the Fastlink Sports Club in the Umm Udhaynah district of Amman for the mobile telecommunications company Fastlink. The project will occupy 9,000 square meters and is estimated to cost 3 million JD (around 4.23 million $US). Sanabel for Agriculture and Consultancy designed the landscaping for the project, and al-Baha Consultants designed the electro-mechanical works.

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 Exhibitions:

The French Cultural Center and the Goethe Institute in Amman organized an exhibition in association with the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts entitled Amman and its Heritage. The exhibition was held at the French Cultural Center in the Jabal al-Luwaybdah district of Amman.

The Department of Architecture at the University of Jordan held its fifth annual exhibition of student graduation projects. The projects included an opera house, parks in the 'Abdali Regeneration Project, the Jordan Engineers Association headquarters, and an animal care center in Amman, as well as the Justice Palace in Irbid.

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 Other News:

Preliminary reports from the Central Bank of Jordan indicate that the total areas licensed for residential purposes in Jordan amounted 725,900 square meters in April 2004, 727,500 square meters in May, 749,900 square meters in June, 747,000 square meters in July, 731,400 square meters in August, 711,800 square meters in September, 717,200 square meters in October, 494,600 square meters in November, 702,600 square meters in December, 484,800 square meters in January 2005, 478,900 square meters in February, 808,400 square meters in March, and 813,300 square meters in April 2005. For non-residential purposes, the licensed areas were 163,500 square meters in April 2004, 109,600 square meters in May, 159,200 square meters in June, 211,700 square meters in July, 178,600 square meters in August, 139,700 square meters in September, 117,100 square meters in October, 145,600 square meters in December, 129,500 square meters in January 2005, 211,500 square meters in February, 257,900 square meters in March, and 196,900 square meters in April.

The reports also indicate that residential construction in Amman amounted to 64.5% (1,666,500 square meters) of overall construction activity in the Kingdom. Irbid came second with 11.9% (306,400 square meters) of constructed areas, and Zarqa third with 8% (207,500 square meters) of constructed areas. The remaining 15.7% (405,000 square meters) was divided amongst the other areas of the Kingdom. As for non-residential construction activity, Amman also came first with 63.9% (543,300 square meters) of constructed areas, Zarqa second with 10.9% (92,800 square meters), Irbid third with 2.4% (20,700 square meters), with the remaining 22.7% (139,000 square meters) distributed amongst the rest of the Kingdom.

The number of licenses granted for residential purposes was 2251 licenses in April 2004, 2334 in May, 2559 in June, 2503 in July, 2532 in August, 2104 in September, 1808 in October, 1225 in November, 1761 in December, 1166 in January 2005, 1352 in February, 2093 in March, and 2213 in April. As for the number of permits granted for non-residential construction, they were 216 licenses in April 2004, 206 in May, 224 in June, 214 in July, 238 in August, 211 in September, 194 in October, 139 in November, 194 in December, 142 in January 2005, 179 in February, 222 in March, and 236 in April 2005. (Source: al-Ra'i, June 15, 2005)

The El Legado Andalusi Spanish foundation published the monograph Qusayr Amra, Umayyad Baths in the Jordanian Desert in Spanish and Arabic. The publication details the Spanish Archaeological Mission's work in restoring the renowned early-eighth-century Umayyad castle complex located in the Jordanian Badiya, to the east of Amman. The 25-year restoration project focused on removing the thick layers of smoke, dust, and impurities that had accumulated on the palace's famous frescoes over the years, in addition to providing overall maintenance of the building. (Source: The Jordan Times, June 16, 2005)

The Jordanian government allocated state-owned lands for housing projects targeting low-income citizens in various parts of the Kingdom. The planned housing units will be sold at affordable prices. Official figures show that the real estate sector is witnessing a boom coupled with an unprecedented upsurge in prices. The increase in land prices was the main reason behind the rise in the prices of apartments and houses. An apartment in south Amman, which was valued at around 30,000 JD (42,000 $US) in 2004, currently is sold at no less than 36,000 JD (around 51,000 $US). On a related note, according to figures released by the Department of Lands and Survey, Jordanians and other nationalities bought 4,118 apartments and houses during the first quarter of this year, recording a 55.5% increase compared to the same period last year. Official figures place those located below the poverty line in 2004 at 14.2% of the population, which leaves hundreds of thousands of citizens unable to afford purchasing housing. In addition, the quantity of current low-income housing projects in the country is not meeting local demand. (Source: The Jordan Times, June 28, 2005)

The Greater Amman Municipality and the Jordan Tourism Board announced that the Mohammad al-Qudah Street (also known as the Wakalat [Brands] Street) in Amman's commercial Sweifieh district will be converted into a pedestrian street in the evenings for the duration of the summer of 2005. The street will host musical and cultural events during this period, and sidewalk restaurants and cafés will be allowed to be set up at the sides of the street. (Source: al-Ra'i, June 29, 2005)

Construction activity continued to increase at a rapid rate during the first half of 2005. The improved performance of the construction sector is due to a rebound that took place during the second quarter of the year, compared to a relatively slow start in the preceding quarter. Consequently, indicators including construction permits and cement production have risen considerably during this second quarter. New construction permits rose by 28.6% during the first six months of 2005, driven by a strong second quarter, during which the number of permits jumped up by 46.9% in relation to the same period last year to reach 6,244 million square meters. At the same time, the number of construction permits decreased by 5.5% during the first half of 2005 in relation to the same period last year, and totaled 13,178 permits, but improved by 3% on a quarter-to quarter basis. Also, cement production increased by 4% during the first six months of 2005. This increase includes a 6.3% increase during the second quarter of 2005 in relation to the same period of the previous year to reach 1,980,000 tons.

Construction activity mainly has been concentrated in Amman, which accounted for 37% of total construction permits and 65.3% of construction areas. Residential construction represented the bulk of construction activity, as it accounted for 90% of permits and 73.5% of constructed areas. The wholesale price index for construction materials regressed by 5.7% and that of equipment and industrial production instruments rose by 3.8% over the first half of the year, in comparison to increases of 5.1% and 2.8% respectively during the first half of 2004. The favorable sentiments in the sector were reflected by the 55.3% rise in the registration of new construction companies. A total of 73 new construction companies were established during the first half of 2005 in comparison to 47 new firms during the first period of 2004.

In addition, a number of large real estate projects have been launched during 2005, the largest of which are the 700 million JD (1 billion $US) Royal Metropolis projects, the 440 million JD (620 million $US) Saraya Aqaba developments, and the 241.4 million JD (340 million $US) 'Abdali Investment and Development Project. The projects include the construction of tourism, commercial, residential, retail, and entertainment facilities. These large-scale projects will take a significant time to complete, thus keeping the construction sector active for several years.

Other factors supporting growth in the construction sector include demand being generated by foreign tourism, and also from Iraqis who have relocated to Jordan or chose the country as a base for business or a second residence due to instability in Iraq. Demand for real estate also has grown because of Jordanian expatriates working in the Gulf states who have benefited from the oil boom taking place there, and consequently have acquired residences in Jordan or have invested in commercial properties. (Source: Bank Audi Jordan Economic Report, First half 2005)

 

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