AMMAN — The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) is working towards transforming Jordan’s sole port city into “a world class business hub and leisure destination”, ASEZA Chief Commissioner Kamel Mahadin said Saturday.

To that end, ASEZA was among several local institutions that recently signed research and academic exchange agreements with the University of Texas (UT) at Arlington, Mahadin said.

The US university signed the agreements with the Jordanian Nursing Council, the Hashemite University, the Jordanian University of Science and Technology (JUST) and ASEZA last week.

HRH Princess Muna attended the signing ceremony.

Mahadin also signed another cooperation agreement with UT Arlington President Vistasp M. Karbhari, whereby both parties agreed to establish a programme of cultural, economic and academic exchange.

“This important agreement aims at developing cooperation between ASEZA and the University of Texas, one of US’ prestigious universities…” Mahadin told The Jordan Times.

“The purpose of the cooperation between UT Arlington and ASEZA include… deepening the understanding of the economic, cultural and social issues of the respective institutions,” he said. 

“… We will start working on developing institutional exchange that involves faculty and staff [and]… organising symposiums, conferences, short courses and meetings on research issues,” Mahadin noted.

He stressed on the importance of the educational sector as an aspect in the development of Aqaba. 

“We in Aqaba focus heavily on education, believing in the significant role it plays in the development process and in building the capacity of communities.”

The agreement comes as part of ASEZA’s strategy to develop international cooperation with renowned academic institutions, Mahadin added, noting that the authority has recently signed an agreement with the Italian University of Palermo to develop means of cooperation on similar levels, including establishing a faculty of medicine at the University of Jordan campus in Aqaba.