EBRD finances shopping and entertainment centre in Amman

By Nibal Zgheib

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the development of a new shopping and entertainment centre in Amman that will create employment opportunities and help spur economic activity in the Jordanian capital.

The aim of the $80 million loan is to stimulate environmentally friendly regeneration in the city. The new centre will provide a higher quality retail and entertainment experience for the people of Amman and the surrounding areas. It will help stimulate further investment in Amman and support the city's development as a regional business hub.

The EBRD financing will place a high priority on efficient use of energy and the recycling of water at the new complex – the Abdali Retail and Entertainment Centre. Efficient energy and resource utilisation is crucial in Jordan, given that it imports 97 per cent of its energy, and is one of the driest countries in the world.

EBRD President, Sir Suma Chakrabarti said, in signing the project, “This is an important investment for Jordan. It sets new standards in energy efficiency and sustainable development for both Jordan and the EBRD, while also providing much needed employment and training opportunities. We hope it can provide a template for other cities in the region.”

The loan is being made to the Abdali Mall Company, a private Jordanian company established specifically to develop and operate the project, majority-owned by United Real Estate Company (URC), which is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. The new centre is likely to create up to 2,000 new jobs, mainly in retail, facilities management and other related sectors, in addition to 2,000 construction-related jobs.

Mohammed Ahmed Al-Saqqaf, Chief Executive Officer of URC and Chairman of Abdali Mall Company, said, “United Real Estate Company and its subsidiary Abdali Mall Company, are proud to announce this partnership with EBRD. We believe EBRD brings more than just financing to the project, including a vision to support developers who introduce urban regeneration projects. The project will contribute to the heart of the area of Abdali in Amman and will stimulate the Jordanian economy through job creation and diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

The mall is expected to attract international and local retailers, and will incorporate restaurants, cinemas and a children’s entertainment area. It will also provide space for small producers and traders to sell local products.

The construction will involve advanced technology aimed at ensuring environmental sustainability, including the use of natural heating and cooling, natural lighting and extensive water recycling, which should lead to energy and water savings of about 50 per cent in comparison to similar projects in the country.

The project will also provide substantial skills transfer through offering training opportunities to young entrants into the labour market at a dedicated on-site training facility.

The EBRD has been investing in Jordan since last year, when it extended its operations to four countries in North Africa and the Middle East in the wake of political changes in the region.

This is the EBRD’s second largest investment in Jordan to date.