Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

The Aqaba Kitchen offers a new way to explore the town

28 May 2019

Visitors to Aqaba can now experience the seaside city’s newest tourism offering - the Aqaba Kitchen. This interactive cooking experience, offered at the Berenice Beach Club, redefines the concept of ‘from farm to table’ to ‘from sea to table’, enabling participants to seek out the freshest ingredients from Aqaba’s food markets and then prepare and enjoy a delicious meal infront of the serene waters of the Gulf of Aqaba. USAID BEST supported the Sindbad Group to set up the Aqaba Kitchen as part of efforts to introduce new tourism experiences and help extend tourist stay and spend in Aqaba.

According to Dr. Thaer Darwish, Managing Partner of Sindbad Group, “This experience is the first of its kind in Aqaba and will engage guests and visitors and show them another side of the beach city.” 

The Aqaba Kitchen begins with a visit to the local markets, including the fish, vegetable and spice markets, to purchase the ingredients needed to make the traditional dishes they will enjoy for their meal. The ingredients are taken back to Berenice Beach Club where in-house chefs brief participants about the dishes they will prepare and guide them through the cooking process. They learn to make dishes such as sayadiyeh, a traditional dish of spiced fish and rice, along with accompanying salads.   

The experience was opened in April 2019 and is available for bookings through tour operators. Tyche Tours, a local tour operator, has brought 12 groups to the Aqaba Kitchen since its opening and the feedback has been great.

“The Aqaba Kitchen is an excellent project,” enthused Arwa Mahadin, Director of Tyche Tours. She explained, “In the past it was difficult to find enjoyable activities for our clients to fill their time in Aqaba as there was not much to do. Now, the Aqaba Kitchen experience is a full-day interactive activity with a morning spent in the markets. And what’s unique about the kitchen is that it is outdoors and on the beach. Then after the meal we take the guests on a snorkeling trip.”

Since April 2019 Tyche Tours have brought more than 200 guests to the Aqaba Kitchen and the feedback has been outstanding. According to Ms. Mahadin, “The guests have enjoyed the experience so much and especially the opportunity to eat sayyadiyeh, which is new to them and traditional to Aqaba.”

The new activity has made a significant impact on how much time visitors who seek engaging activities can spend in Aqaba. Tyche Tours have now incorporated the Aqaba Kitchen into their longer Jordan itinerary going forward and are considering it in other ways.

“We also plan to use this experience for MICE soon. We are still in need of more activities, but it makes Aqaba a good option,” concluded Ms. Mahadin.