As the world ground to a halt this year, many wondered what became of the projects slated to transform Saudi Arabia’s cultural, environmental, and social wealth. Saudi giga-projects, among them Qiddiya, the Red Sea Project, NEOM, and Amaala, have been years in the making.
While the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been unpredictable, work has steadily continued on the Kingdom’s giga-projects and megaprojects.
While some speculated that the giga-projects, which have attracted international curiosity with their futuristic plans and game-changing offerings in the hospitality, cultural, technology, entertainment, and trade sectors, would be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these concerns have not been realized. Instead, a number of encouraging official statements in recent days have given cause for hope as to these projects’ viability.
In July, the CEO of Qiddiya Investment Co., Michael Reininger, announced that SR10 billion ( $2.7 billion) in contracts would be awarded this year to ensure that construction of the Kingdom’s largest entertainment destination would continue according to a timeline.
That month, Red Sea Development Co. CEO John Pagano confirmed the project’s first phase of development and stated that hotels would be ready to begin welcoming guests in 2022.
The COVID-19 crisis, which Pagano said had a “limited effect” on the project’s progress due to governmental support, was likewise framed as a temporary challenge that could be overcome.
Though many countries have resorted to austerity measures and budget cuts as part of the COVID-19 response, the Saudi government has wisely protected the giga-projects from facing the worst of the crisis. Each of the giga-projects uniquely contributes to a more sustainable future as the country diversifies its income streams away from oil.
In addition to the direct economic, human capital, and environmental benefits, these projects also offer rare training and capacity-building opportunities for Saudi youth.
Investing in these projects and sustaining them throughout the COVID-19 crisis has given hope to many.