Jabal Ajloun, Jordan’s Newest Sustainable Tourism Destination

Jabal Ajloun, Jordan’s Newest Sustainable Tourism Destination

The Royal Hashemite Court of HM King Abdullah II of Jordan retained RMW experts as part of an international team to develop a detailed master plan and structure a public-private master developer consortium to transform economically 1,000 square kilometers of land in the region of Mount Ajloun, covering one percent of the country’s total land area. Located north of the capital Amman, the Ajloun area is one of Jordan’s most beautiful regions, famous for lush vegetation, thick green forests, traditional village landscapes and sites of antiquity that rank among the best in the Middle East.

Historically, Ajloun has been challenged by unemployment, lack of economic opportunities, poor land management, inadequate regional planning and dispersed governance. As Jordan’s drive to reform itself gains momentum, the gap widens between Ajloun and new or economically growing regions like Aqaba and Amman, casting uncertainty over Ajloun’s future and the livelihoods of its people.

HM King Abdullah’s vision for the Ajloun region sets the basis for our mission:

Deliver a strategy for the development of the Mount Ajloun region to promote opportunities for investment within an agenda for economic development, enhanced people’s livelihoods and sustainable use of the natural and cultural resources

To achieve this, RMW experts applied an urban value chain model to create transformation strategies to:

  • plan and manage the development of land, of which 250 square kilometers are unique natural resources and special places of cultural significance
  • enhance growth and people’s lives by diversifying the economy and building competitive products and skill sets particularly in tourism and related services
  • build the capacity to support 250,000 new residents by 2030 while redeveloping up to 60 villages at the core of Ajloun heritage and culture
  • fulfill private sector functions and expectations to attract national and international investors
  • establish a governance system and equity structure that streamline the roles of public and private partners, empowering both to do what they do best

Declaration of Jabal Ajloun Development Area – RMW experts helped draft new legislation specially designed for development areas and launch the Jabal Ajloun Development Area (JADA) as the first area declared under the new law. RMW experts designed an institutional transformation process that will guide JADA through the development cycle, and transition local service delivery from municipal authority to a new public-private partnership (PPP) master developer to fulfill the vision of the integrated master plan for Jabal Ajloun. As a world-class, master-planned destination, JADA will assure the migrated, efficient delivery of regional benefits across three governorates to deliver the King’s vision to improve livelihoods in Ajloun.

A long-run economic strategy that accommodates investments today – Based on a thorough evaluation of domestic and international demand for services that could be supported by sustainable land uses in Ajloun, RMW experts devised a step-by-step roadmap to build markets and limit investor risk. The design for this strategy strongly supports an economic base of tourism and real estate to deliver hospitality services and products not available elsewhere in Jordan, as well as complementary services like health and wellness, specialty education, and niche agriculture.  While accommodating immediate investments in hotels and responding to current investor demand for Ajloun, RMW experts also planned a phased, longer-term strategy to address threats such as fragmented land ownership and land price speculation. Total capital investment and productivity are expected to be comparable to development zones in Jordan like Aqaba and Mafraq.

Land use and concept master planning – RMW experts prepared a land use plan that identifies land areas that should be developed or preserved to support the economic strategy. The plan guides investment now and over the longer term at all scales and types of development ranging from lodges and medium-sized hotels to village-scale, integrated resort developments. By incorporating a proven concept for destination creation, which RMW based on successful destination like Tuscany and Provence, a “necklace” of destination resort villages or “clusters” are linked through scenic transportation corridors and supported by “special places,” new high-quality local businesses, and rehabilitated towns and villages of significance.

Institutional Transformation Program – RMW experts structured an organizational blueprint that transitions from the existing fragmented governance conditions in the Ajloun region to a public Development Areas Commission and onward to the public-private Jabal Ajloun Development Corporation (JADC) as master developer.  JADC is designed to combine, for the first time in Jordan, both public and private equity, accommodating the participation of a new special-purpose fund for social development as well as the Jordanian public through an IPO.

Investor road show – With the commissioners of Jordan’s new Development Areas Commission, RMW experts organized and launched an international road show to solicit private interest in a PPP master developer role. As a result, expressions of interest have been received from investors in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

Click here to visit the Jabal Ajloun website.