Aqaba, as it is now called, was know during Islamic times as Ayla, the jewel of the Red Sea. The city holds a vital place in Jordan's history as a holder of its marine and Islamic heritage. 

The city was first occupied in the fourth century BC, and has been home to a variety of different peoples and civilizations. First, the Nabateans settled in the area and are credited with domesticating animals and creating a marine-based society in the area. The subsequent Roman and Byzantine occupations used the area and its ports, making it a trade hub that connected their various territories. 

Begining in 630 AD the city began to more closely follow the pattern of other Islamic cities and Phonecian settlements. It bares the unmistakable marks of occupation during the Ummayyad, Abbasid, and Fatamid periods, similarly serving as a center for trade. Evidence shows the city had links to their neighbors in the Arabian pednninsula, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria as well as the far away as the India Ocean and the far east. 

Within the city, the two most important buildings in the area are the mosque and the prince's house. The city was a bustling center for commerce, complete with a market and enough welath to support residential and commecial settlements both inside and outside of the city. 

Proposed Intervention :

The project aims to revitalize the Islamic city of Alya and expand the area’s appreciation and focus on marine heritage. This began with an underwater exploration of the coastline, the first of its kind ever attempted in Jordan. SCHEP has brought together experts from the Department of Antiquities, University of Chicago, and JREDS together, along with a group of international experts in order to ensure that these explorations were done using best practices and the most responsible methods. Ultimately, SCHEP hopes to create a new, education, and community based way for visitors to experience Aqaba.


Some of the most tangible results were a Site Management Plan and more than 15 employment opportunities, more than 50% female.