Jordan’s Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (Aseza) has signed an agreement with local firm Siag Arabian Auto Manufacturing Company for the construction of a $1.5bn car production plant.

Construction of the plant’s $450m first phase is expected to start in 2019, local media reports say, citing Aseza chairman Nasser al-Shuraideh.

The construction is expected to take two years.

MEED understands the plant will produce approximately 50,000 cars a year. Automobiles to be manufactured at the plant in its initial stages include sports utility vehicles (SUV) for US-based Jeep.

The plant will expand into the manufacture of larger vehicles, including 25-passenger mini-buses and 50-seater buses, in later stages.

Earlier this month, Shuraideh announced the launch of a project to develop the northern zone of Aqaba with a total area of 109 square kilometers.

The cost of infrastructure development is estimated to reach JD2bn ($2.8bn) over a seven-year period starting in 2019 and ending in 2025.

The new development zone will require the construction of road and sewage networks and a rainwater drainage system. It will also aim to address the problem of high energy cost through the establishment of a renewable energy project, which will generate 20MW annually, and expand to 200MW upon completion of the project.

The new development is expected to include resorts and tourism services linking the environmental tourism in Wadi Araba with Petra.