Aqaba is situated in southernmost Jordan and it’s the administrative center of the Aqaba Governorate. Aqaba is presently Jordan’s only seaport. Given that it’s the only coastal city in Jordan and the largest. But it’s the most populous city on the gulf of Aqaba. Inhabited since 4000 B.C., Aqaba’s long history dates back to pre-biblical times, known then as Ayla. From 106 AD, the Romans used Ayla as their trading sea port, until it came under the control of the Byzantine Empire in the early 4th century. In the 12th century, the crusaders captured the city. Ayla was then retaken by Saladin. When the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt took control of the region, they renamed the city Aqaba. The Mamluks were followed by the Ottomans, who ruled Aqaba for 4 centuries.And in 1917, Arab forces took Aqaba from the Ottomans.
The Aqaba Region Archaeological Museum is located in the Aqaba house of Sheriff Hussein Bin Ali next to the Aqaba Castle. The museum opened its doors to the public in 1990. Presently it houses an important collection from the Islamic site of Ayla, dated to the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid periods, thus representing the Islamic periods from the mid-7th to the beginning of the 12th century AD.
Aqaba is located next to Wadi Rum and Petra, which placed it in Jordan’s golden triangle of tourism. Thus strengthening the city’s location on the world map and made it one of the major tourist attractions in Jordan. Aqaba’s greatest asset is the Red Sea itself. Here you can experience some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Its numerous beach resorts are popular for windsurfing and other water sports. It’s also a top destination for scuba divers, with notable dive sites including the Yamanieh coral reef.
The temperate climate and gentle water currents have created a perfect environment for the growth of corals and marine life. Here you can swim with friendly sea turtles and dolphins as they dart amongst the schools of multi-colored fish. Night dives reveal the nocturnal sea creatures, crabs, lobsters and shrimp, as they search for a midnight snack. For those who prefer to keep their feet dry, all the deep sea wonders can be viewed through a glass-bottomed boat or by submarine, or you can just relax under the sun on the sandy beaches. Plus, of course, there are plenty of other water-sport activities available, as well as an extensive and interesting Marine Park.
One of Jordan’s main priorities is to ensure the local people benefit from the country’s tourist industry. As with all major tourist sites in Jordan, Aqaba offers a great selection of hand-crafted souvenirs, such as the traditional Bedouin jewelry, sand bottles, etc. Aqaba also has many modern boutiques where you can find the very latest jewelry, watches, clothing, accessories and leather goods. Stroll through Aqaba’s largest retail and entertainment complex, the Aqaba Gateway. Or take advantage of Aqaba’s Free Zone and shop in style without having to pay any duties on the goods you purchase from certain shops.