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In December 2015, the EBRD approved a senior loan to support the development and operation of the first phase of the Ayla Village, part of the wider Ayla Oasis regeneration project, which is located on the western edge of the city of Aqaba, on the border between Jordan and Israel. The project will support the development of Aqaba into a leading tourist destination, with world heritage sites Petra and Wadi Rum only two hours away.

As part of the financing, the EBRD will provide technical assistance to establish an innovative and high-quality local hospitality training programme based on international best practice and standards to provide local young people with a route into hospitality jobs.

By working closely with local vocational schools and job centres, the project will be the first to offer training linked to work-based learning opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector in Aqaba, thereby creating a direct progression route for young people from training into potential employment.

This project demonstrates an integrated and comprehensive approach for inclusion by expanding the impact out to national and regional policy engagement in order to improve national skills standards in the hospitality and tourism sector. These will be promoted further through direct engagement with key sector players across the wider transition region in partnership with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Moreover, the project has been designed with a strong focus on sustainability, using advanced energy and water efficiency techniques including high-efficiency mechanical and electrical services, solar building integrated renewables, onsite power generation, grey water recycling, water saving techniques, and the implementation of best international practices in construction and asset management. Water savings and more efficient cooling are particularly significant given Jordan’s climatic conditions and projected the impacts of climate changes.

Sustainable energy and resource efficiency investments account for US$ 24 million (equivalent to 40 per cent) of the Bank’s financing for this project and will lead to significant energy (29 per cent) and water (10 to 12 per cent) savings, as well as CO2 emission reductions (31 per cent) compared with national benchmarks for new tourism facilities of the same quality and level of service. As a result, this project will be a solid blueprint of sustainability and climate resilience for others to follow in the Jordanian building sector.

Throughout the planning of the Ayla Oasis regeneration project, which has been in process for the past 10 years, the client has been implementing comprehensive environmental management plans. It has supported Aqaba Special Economic Zone Area (ASEZA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with its marine biodiversity conservation and coastal management activities and has also commissioned the Jordanian Royal Society for Conservation of Nature to complete an annual bird survey to ensure wildlife is not affected by the development.