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Authorities brace for influx of Gulf tourists, expats

By Omar Obeidat - May 26,2015 - Last updated at May 26,2015

Last summer, 154,920 cars entered the Kingdom from Saudi Arabia through the Omari crossing, according to official figures (File photo)

AMMAN – Authorities are gearing up to receive tens of thousands of visitors from the Gulf region during the summer, with Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) readying a plan to deal with anticipated traffic congestion. 

The Jordan Customs Department has recently boosted its cadres at the border crossing with Saudi Arabia, Omari in the north and Mudawara in the south, as thousands of cars are expected to start crossing into the Kingdom as of next week, when the school holiday starts in the Gulf state, an officer at the department told The Jordan Times Tuesday. 

All measures are set to receive Arab tourists as well as Jordanian expatriates working in Gulf countries, said the official, who preferred to remain unnamed. 

Ayman Smadi, executive director of the transport and traffic department at GAM said over 100,000 cars are expected to enter the capital during this summer, adding a plan is in place to deal with traffic congestion, particularly in the city’s downtown area. 

Smadi told The Jordan Times that this year’s holiday will coincide with Ramadan, expected to start mid next month, explaining that traffic jams are likely to be at night after people break their fasting. 

He said that shuttle buses will be operated between Amman’s Abdali to downtown so motorists do not need to drive to the old part of the city. 

“We are working with a major transport company to have the shuttle buses ready in the coming weeks,” the GAM executive said.

Smadi indicated that a total of 126 areas in Amman are connected to the traffic control centre through traffic lights, adding the timing of traffic lights can be changed in accordance with congestion. 

He added that GAM is also coordinating with Central Traffic Department officers who will be in the field to control congestion by providing quick solutions. 

GAM is also working to improve parking lots across the city, urging people to also cooperate with traffic departments. 

Smadi said that Al Madina Al Munawara Street in west Amman is a major destination for Gulf visitors as well as Amman residents. 

Last summer, 154,920 cars entered the Kingdom from Saudi Arabia through the Omari crossing, according to official figures, which estimate the number of Jordanian expatriates at around 750,000, the majority of whom live in the Gulf states.

Over 300,000 Jordanian professionals are based in Saudi Arabia, followed by the UAE with nearly 200,000.

 

According to official data, travellers from Saudi Arabia constitute the largest number of tourists to Jordan, with an estimated 1 million people entering the Kingdom by land.

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