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L. Joseph
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—Will Preserve and Protect Environment at Dead Sea Project—

WASHINGTON, D.C., Apr. 15—The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has approved a loan of up to US$15 million and an equity investment of up to US$3 million in Zara, a tourism company in Jordan, to develop two hotel-and-business complexes in Amman and the Dead Sea. Suitable steps have been taken to ensure that both projects will be environmentally sustainable and that coastal and water resources at the Dead Sea project will be preserved and protected.

The first project is a 312-room hotel and business complex in Amman, comprising 44 apartments and well-equipped exhibition and conference facilities, which will be managed by Hyatt International. The second project is a wellness center and a 231-room hotel complex on the north-eastern shore of the Dead Sea, combining medical and recreational facilities, which will be managed by Mövenpick. The Dead Sea project will be the first hotel of international standard to be built on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea.

The projects will comply fully with World Bank environmental guidelines. This is particularly critical for the Dead Sea project where environmental protection is key to the success of the wellness center. The Dead Sea complex will serve as a model for future tourism projects.

The projects will make a significant contribution to the Jordanian economy in terms of foreign exchange generation, the creation of 600 direct jobs as well as many more indirect jobs, increased activity in the local construction industry, upgrading of local personnel skills at the hotels and additional spending by tourists outside the hotels.

“The hotel in Amman would be geared primarily to the business market while the Dead Sea project would capitalize on the unique therapeutic properties of the Dead Sea,” said Mr. André Hovaguimian, Director of IFC’s Central Asia, Middle East, and North Africa Department. “Both hotels are expected to benefit from Jordan’s growing tourism industry, which attracts local and other foreign leisure guests and taps into a large and growing European health market.”

The project’s sponsor, Zara, was established in 1994 as a public shareholding company. Zara’s shareholders include the Cairo-Amman Bank, the second largest commercial bank in Jordan, its Chairman, Mr. Talhouni, and a number of financial institutions and Jordanian investors.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral source of equity and loan financing for private sector projects in developing countries.

To date, IFC has invested US$186 million, including US$70 million for the account of participants and US$116 million for its own account, in 10 projects in Jordan.