By Khetam Malkawi

AMMAN – Jordanians and tourists alike will be able to enjoy leisure facilities on the shores of the Dead Sea that will be constructed over the next 25 years as part of a master plan that seeks to develop the site.

Taha Zboun, CEO of the Jordan Development Zone Company, said the 25-year master plan will be launched this month to unveil investment opportunities in the area.

He noted that the master plan will be implemented in six phases, with the first three spread over the next 10 years.

“Entertainment is missing in the Dead Sea area, and after certain hours there is nothing for visitors to do,” Zboun told The Jordan Times in a recent interview, adding that the plan seeks to provide these missing facilities for visitors in the vicinity of already existing investments.

As part of the plan, the zone will develop the infrastructure, electricity and a desalination station at an estimated cost of JD180 million, he added.

The development zone will constitute 12 districts, according to Zboun, who explained that the main district with be the cornice, which will feature restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and a beach plaza to host festivals.

Other facilities to be constructed in the area include a sustainable golf course and public parks.

The neighbouring village of Sweimeh will not be forgotten, he said.

“We will sign an agreement with Ammon College for Hospitality to establish a hospitality school in Sweimeh to train area residents,” Zboun explained, adding that the village will also host other public services, including a health centre and bus stations.

He also stressed that the planned developments will not affect the topography of the Dead Sea area, and the environment.

Jean Baptiste Pigeon, area general manager of the Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea, welcomed the master plan, saying it will transform the locale into a real tourist destination as the only facilities currently available are hotels and this discourages potential tourists.

He noted that although the Dead Sea is different from any other seaside areas, it has the potential to become a popular resort like Sharm El Sheik if the infrastructure is developed.

Pigeon told The Jordan Times that several tourist attractions are accessible from the Dead Sea such as Petra and Wadi Mujib, “which is a great added value, but tourists need some entertainment facilities, shopping malls and restaurants”.

“If we combine cultural and commercial attractions with leisure activities and obviously the sand and the sea, this will enhance the area,” Pigeon explained.