Jordan Table of Contents
Located on the Gulf of Aqaba, which leads to the Red Sea, Al Aqabah was Jordan's only port. The modern port, established in the 1950s, was under the authority of the Al Aqabah Ports Corporation, part of the Ministry of Transportation. The port grew tremendously in the 1970s and especially in the early 1980s as transit trade through Al Aqabah became one of Iraq's few lifelines to the outside world during its war with Iran. In 1985, according to the government, 55 percent to 60 percent of Al Aqabah's total cargo capacity was devoted to transit trade with Iraq. Another estimate placed this figure at 70 percent. Port facilities included seventeen berths, two of them floating, that were specially equipped for loading or unloading general cargo, crude oil, and phosphates. One of the newest berths, completed in 1985, was 580 meters long and configured for handling roll on/roll off cargo and container cargo. Associated facilities and services included warehouses and railheads. Five new tugboats were ordered in 1988 to escort cargo ships in the Gulf of Aqaba, which would bring to twelve the total number of tugs. In 1987, more than 2,600 vessels called at Al Aqabah, loading 8.7 million tons of freight and unloading about 11.3 million tons. The combined total tonnage represented a 19 percent increase over the previous year.
Jordan has also established a small merchant marine. The National Maritime Company had four merchant vessels with a combined freight capacity of 71,400 tons. Also, the Syrian-Jordananian Marine Transport Company operated two freighters with a combined capacity of 6,000 tons that transported about 70,000 tons of freight annually between the Middle East and Western Europe. Since 1985 Jordan and Egypt have jointly operated an intermittent bridge and ferry service capable of carrying trucks and cars from Al Aqabah to the Sinai port of Nuwaybi. The service has cut transit time between Al Aqabah and Cairo in half, to about nine hours.
Data as of December 1989