Ayla, a sprawling Dubai-style development featuring a world class golf course and man-made lagoons, is shaping up to be central to Aqaba’s plans to become a world class tourism and leisure destination.
There are several multimillion-dollar mixed-use mega projects under construction in Aqaba, each with their own unique set of selling points designed to entice tourists, home buyers, and businesses.
A centerpiece of the Ayla development is a Greg Norman-designed, 27-hole championship golf course which developers are confident will put Aqaba on the global golfing map. “It’s an absolutely world-class golf course that will rival any golf course in the world,” said Ayla Director of Operations Chris White.
The Englishman took up his position late last year after having developed and managed several other courses in the UAE, including Abu Dhabi’s award-winning Yas Links. So he’s no doubt aware of just how lucrative the sport can be in terms of marketing Ayla—and indeed the whole of Aqaba—as a destination for international golfing tournaments and vacations.
When it’s completed towards the end of the year, it will be Jordan’s first grass course, and will boast a golf academy and a solar powered irrigation system that uses treated and desalinated water. “From a sustainability perspective, Norman considers this to be in his top one or two most sustainable courses in the world,” said White.
But the course is just one of many impressive feats of engineering on display at the 43-square-kilometer development. These include a series of huge man-made lagoons that will give residents and visitors the use of around 17 kilometers of new beaches, as well as a 300-berth marina with direct access to the Red Sea. And in keeping with the development’s eco-friendly ethos, White said the newly-created stretches of water are teaming with wildlife, including migratory birds, turtles, thousands of species of fish, even a whale shark.
Besides a huge array of hotels, shops, and restaurants, up to 4,000 homes are envisioned for the project. Ayla recently brought 120 housing units to market for a handover this summer. While White didn’t provide any sales figures, he said demand in the initial invitation-only offering “exceeded our expectations.”
Ayla is being opened in phases through until 2022 and White is confident it will play a crucial role in the long-term development of Aqaba. “We’re aligning ourselves with everything Aqaba is about, which is growth,” he said.
This is part two of a three-piece story. Articles in the series of The Aqaba Rising include:
Interview with ASEZA Chief Commissioner Hani al-Mulki