Aqaba is a coastal town in the far south of Jordan. It is the capital of Aqaba Governorate. Aqaba is strategically important to Jordan as it is the country's only seaport.
The town is best known today as a diving and beach resort. However, industrial activity remains important to the area, and the town is an exporter of phosphate and shells. The town is also an important administrative center within the far south of Jordan.
Aqaba has been an inhabited settlement since 4000 BC profiting from its strategic location at the junction of trading routes between Asia, Africa, and Europe. The early settlement was presumably Edomite in ancient times. It was a center of the Edomites, and then of the Arab Nabataeans, who populated the region extensively.
The Bible refers to the area in (1 Kings 926) "King Solomon also built ships in Ezion-Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shores of the Red Sea." This verse probably refers to an Iron Age port city on the same ground as modern Aqaba.
The Ptolemaic Greeks called it Berenice, and the Romans Aila and Aelana. During Roman times, the great long distance road the Via Traiana Nova led south from Damascus through Amman, terminating in Aqaba, where it connected with a west road leading to Philistia and Egypt.
Soon after Muhammad's conquests, it came under the rule of the Islamic Caliphate, and thereafter passed through the hands of such dynasties as the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids and Mamluks.
During the 12th century, the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem controlled the area and built their fortress of Helim, which remains relatively well-preserved today. In addition to building a stronghold within Aqaba, the Crusaders fortified the small island of Ile de Graye (now known as Pharaoh's Island - about 7 kilometers offshore). The island now lies in Egyptian territorial waters.
By 1170, both Aqaba and the island had been recaptured, for Muslim rule, by Saladin. The Mamluks took over in 1250 and rebuilt the fort in the 14th century under one of the last Mamluk sultans, Qansah al-Ghouri.
By the beginning of the 16th century, the Mamluk dynasty had fallen into decline and the area came under the influence of the Turkish/Ottoman Empire. During the following period, the city declined in status, for 400 years remaining a simple fishing village of little significance.
During World War I, the occupying Ottoman forces were forced to withdraw from the town after a raid led by T. E. Lawrence and the Arab forces of Sharif Hussein in 1917, making the territory part of the Kingdom of Hejaz, under the rule of Prince Faisal.
In 1965, King Hussein attempted to give Aqaba room to grow by trading land with Saudi Arabia. In return for 6000 square kilometers of desertland in Jordan's interior, the Saudis traded 12 kilometers of prime coastline to the south of Aqaba. In addition to the extra land for expansion of the port, the swap also gave the country access to the magnificent Yamanieh coral reef.
In August 2000, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Law was passed by the Jordanian Parliament. The law established the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) as the statutory institution empowered with regulatory, administrative, fiscal and economic responsibilities within the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ).
Average daily temperatures in degrees Celsius.
The popular routes in and out from Aqaba are buses from Amman and other major Jordanian cities, taxis. to the city of Eilat, Israel, through Wadi Araba border , boats to the city of Nuweiba or Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt or by air via Aqaba Airport. Direct flights to Aqaba are now available from Amman, and many other citties
Bus services are plentiful between Amman and Aqaba. JETT and Trust International are the most common lines. These buses use the Desert Highway, which features particularly beautiful scenery in the Wadi Rum region and in the descent into Aqaba.
People of Jordan are renowned worldwide for being extremely welcoming and friendly. You only have to ask a local Jordanian for advice to appreciate that they are always willing to help visitors get the most out of their stay.
Aqaba is a very safe city, and during the hot months (May through September), the streets are alive between 8pm and midnight as most people wait until then to do their shopping
Aqaba is well known for its beach resorts and luxury hotels, which service those who come for fun in the sand as well as watersports like windsurfing and Scuba diving. It also offers activities which take advantage of its desert location. Its many coffee shops offer mansaf and knafeh, and baqlawa desserts. Another very popular venue is the Turkish Bath (Hamam), in which locals and visitors alike come to relax after a hot day.
Aqaba offers a great selection of hand-crafted souvenirs, such as the traditional Bedouin jewelry, sand bottles, etc., and also excellent modern and traditional jewelry in gold and silver, at exceptionally good prices.
The Queen Noor Hussein Foundation, which supports local craftspeople, supplies several outlets in Aqaba with a stunning selection of handmade clothing, carpets, cushion covers, wall-hangings, pottery and glassware.
Aqaba also has many modern boutiques and malls where you can find the very latest in imported jewelry, watches, clothing, accessories and leather goods. The Aqaba Gateway there were you can get many options of souvenirs and gift or you can take the chance of being in Aqaba’s Free Zone and shop in style without having to pay any duties on the goods you purchase from certain shops.