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King urges holistic plan to identify Ajloun’s development priorities, roles

His Majesty, Crown Prince check on Ajloun cable car designs, visit business incubator

By Rana Husseini - Aug 21,2019 - Last updated at Aug 21,2019

His Majesty King Abdullah and HRH Crown Prince Hussein check on the designs of the Ajloun cable car project during a visit to the northern governorate on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AJLOUN — His Majesty King Abdullah and HRH Crown Prince Hussein on Tuesday checked on designs for the cable car project in Al Suwwan development zone in Ajloun, which is expected to be completed by June 2021.

Also during their visit to Ajloun Governorate, 70km northwest of the capital, the King and the Crown Prince visited the Ajloun Business Incubator, and inaugurated the Zaha Cultural Centre (ZCC).

King Abdullah also met during the visit with elected Ajloun Governorate Council and heads of municipalities, members of the decentralisation committee and Ajloun dignitaries and representatives of the community to discuss Ajloun’s development plans, calling for capitalising on tourism and agriculture to create jobs, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

King Abdullah expressed his pride in the northern governorate’s projects, commending Ajloun’s youth and their “high spirits”.

Turning to agriculture and tourism, the King noted that Ajloun has the making of a leading governorate, stressing the need for joint efforts to contribute to its advancement.

His Majesty also stressed the importance of providing a comprehensive plan for the governorate in the near future in order to pinpoint the priorities, divide the roles and proceed with projects.

During the meeting, the King was briefed on Ajloun’s development projects and plans, as well as its decentralisation experience by the head of the governorate council, Mohammad Smadi, Petra reported.

Smadi stressed that the meeting with the King is a clear message of support to the decentralisation process.

Smadi expressed hope that the government would make the decentralisation process a priority. 

Some of the projects presented by the governorate council, according to Smadi, included a water pipeline from Kufranjeh dam and establishing a water reservoir and a desalination plant.

Other elected council members who met with the King suggested establishing a factory for food products to encourage farmers to market their products and to provide more job opportunities.

The members also touched on Ajloun University College, which was built in the 1960s, stressing the need to expand the educational facility by including new buildings and opening new specialisations to meet the market’s demands.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, who accompanied the King on the visit, stressed during the meeting that the government will “carefully study all the suggestions and requests, including ones related to the development projects, transportation and tourism, by the representatives of Ajloun,” according to Petra.

Razzaz noted that a ministerial team will visit Ajloun in the coming weeks to follow up on all the demands. 

The prime minister also said that the decentralisation experience “did not reach the King’s aspiration and that is why we need to adequately implement the concept of decentralisation and ensure that governorate budgets are spent in accordance with the priorities”.

The premier added that the government plans to “revisit the Decentralisation Law and discuss it with governorate councils to come up with a more developed draft, to be referred to Parliament for endorsement during its upcoming ordinary session”.

For his part, Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi reviewed the Royal initiatives that were implemented in Ajloun Governorate in coordination with the government, according to Petra.

Among these initiatives, according to Issawi, was the establishment of 159 housing units and the funding of 200 projects by underprivileged families as well as establishing schools, public parks and sports fields.

Issawi said that upon directives by King Abdullah, the focus is also geared towards training the youth in several professions, via business incubators and training courses at the Bussiness Development Centre.

During their visit to the cable car project, the King and the Crown Prince toured the launching station of the project, which will connect Al Suwwan with Ajloun Castle through a 10-minute cable car ride at a height of 1,100 metres.

The cable, which will extend over 2,850 metres, will carry a total of 40 carriages, which can be extended to 60 in the future, each accommodating eight passengers.

The construction and installation of the project and its facilities, including a commercial station, will span over 24 months at a cost of JD10 million.

Jordan Free and Development Zones Group (JFDZG) Chairman Khalaf Humiesat said the goal of the Ajloun cable car project is to develop the governorate, stimulate tourism investments, support the national economy and provide jobs for around 700 people.

“The Austrian company, Doppelmayr/Garaventa, won the tender to manage and implement the project in accordance with international standards,” Humiesat told reporters.

Al Suwwan zone is divided into three sections, according to Humiesat, with the main area, comprising plot No. 36 and extending over 142 dunums, set to be the platform for the cable car’s take off, which will then travel through a 2.85-kilometre-long line, Humiesat told reporters.

The launching point in the main area will house shops, a cafe and a restaurant, Humiesat noted, while the second part of the cable’s route — which is designated for a "big investment project" the tender for which would be floated after the cable car project is operational — will include a conference centre, a five-star hotel and several restaurants, according to the chairman.

“The idea is to encourage the private sector to start projects in the cable car’s zone; benefitting from the project’s traffic as well as generating financial support that will contribute to covering the operational costs of the cable car,” Humiesat explained. 

Al Suwwan’s second segment contains the 26-dunum plot No. 43, over which the cable car passes, is also directly connected to the plot on which Ajloun Castle and the visitors' centre lie, Humiesat said.

This segment includes a station for the cable car, a restaurant and a market for agricultural products, the JFDZG chairman added.

“We will provide more than one form of transportation for the tourists to reach the cable car’s launchpad such as shuttles, cars and horse-drawn carriages,” according to Humiesat.

The third segment of the development zone contains the 126-dunum plot No. 86, where initial plans aim at establishing an eco-lodge, a restaurant and a café, Humiesat told reporters.

In May, the Cabinet approved acquisitions and the estimated value of the project, after which the tender was awarded to the Austrian company that won the bid to design and construct the cable car system.

His Majesty and the Crown Prince also visited the Ajloun Business Incubator, which works with young entrepreneurs to integrate them in the local market.

The incubator, which was established under Royal directives, aims to help the Jordanian youth with pioneering projects to implement and expand them, in addition to granting them access to the local market through financial and legal counsel.

Meanwhile, the King also inaugurated Ajloun’s ZCC branch, which aims to provide programmes, projects and activities for children aged between three and 16 in cooperation with the public and the private sectors.

The ZCC in Ajloun is the 20th branch of the institution to be opened in the Kingdom, which provides recreational and educational services to around 1,250,000 children.

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