Rome, December 21 - Emad Kilani remembers swimming in the clear waters of Aqaba when he was just a child. "We would come with the family. At the time it was just a small village". Though Aqaba now is a liberalized, low-tax, duty-free area that has its sights on becoming a world-class hub for business and leisure, Kilani assures that its charm is still intact. "We looked at and learned from many examples of port-city developments around the world and the one thing that we knew for sure is that we had to preserve the original feel of this magical place," CEO of Al Maabar Jordan Investments, Emad Kilani told ANSA. Kilani heads the investment company developing the Marsa Zayed zone of Aqaba. The $500 million deal Al Maabar struck with the Jordanian government in 2008 was the country's second-largest ever. And it is expected to bring an investment value of over $10 billion by the time the area is completed. Marsa Zayed, a mega mixed-use development project, is the largest ever envisioned in the region. It will include a commercial center, hotels and residences along with a plethora of venues for activities and sports. When all is finished, the seaside community Marsa (meaning harbor) Zayed (in memory of the Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan) will have as many as 70,000 residents enjoying year-round warm weather and crystalline waters. The burgeoning autonomous area is poised to bloom much as the superchic northeastern Sardinian resort of Porto Cervo has over the last three decades and gracefully combines Med charm and Oriental elegance. "Our goal is to work in harmony with the local heritage and environment of Aqaba," Kilani underlines.