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Sheikh Zayed Mosque set for Red Sea port

The Red Sea city of Aqaba is to be home to its own, smaller version of Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

AQABA // The Red Sea city of Aqaba in Jordan is to be home to its own, smaller version of Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

The mosque, designed to resemble the landmark building in the capital, is being built by Al Maabar, a developer based in Abu Dhabi, as part of its US$10 billion (Dh36.73bn) Marsa Zayed property and tourism waterfront project in Aqaba.

"It is a smaller version," said Yousef Al Nowais, the managing director of Al Maabar. "When you do something that carries the name of Sheikh Zayed, you want something to also [reflect] Abu Dhabi."

The new mosque in the seaport city will be called the Sheikh Zayed Masjid.

Al Maabar is a partnership involving six Abu Dhabi companies - Aldar Properties, Sorouh Real Estate, Al Qudra Holding, Reem Investments, Reem International and Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. The partnership was set up to build projects abroad.

Basic infrastructure is currently being installed on Al Maabar's sprawling site in Aqaba. The project extends for 3.2km. It is due to eventually have 3,000 hotel rooms, residential towers and several marinas, as well as shopping and financial districts, according to the masterplan. Work on the buildings is expected to start early next year, Mr Al Nowais said. The first phase, due to be completed in 2014, is designed to include the mosque, which has capacity for 2,000 worshippers, as well as 195 townhouses and 263 apartments.

The company expects to seek bids for building the project in the first quarter of the next year.

Mr Al Nowais said the project was likely to attract Jordanians buying second homes, as well as tourists.

"I think Aqaba is one of the promising areas. It's an area that has not really been developed. Definitely it needs a lot of improvement, but I think the future is fantastic for this area."

The developer said that there was still little clarity on when it might restart its Libya project.

"I hope that things calm down and we will be ready to go back as soon as things are under control," said Mr Al Nowais.

Last year, the developer cancelled a development it had planned for Tunisia. But its project in Morocco is still progressing.

The Abu Dhabi developer is also building a $300 million luxury St Regis hotel development in Amman.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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