Six giga-projects that epitomize Saudi Arabia’s $7 trillion development plan

Special Six giga-projects that epitomize Saudi Arabia’s $7 trillion development plan
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Updated 14 October 2021

Six giga-projects that epitomize Saudi Arabia’s $7 trillion development plan

Six giga-projects that epitomize Saudi Arabia’s $7 trillion development plan
  • As part of Vision 2030, the Kingdom is redefining its global image and diversifying its economy away from oil
  • Liberalization, economic reforms and foreign investment are seen as key to the strategy’s success 

DUBAI / CAIRO / JEDDAH: Six ambitious landmark projects being developed in the Kingdom aim to help transform the economy while showing the world and all Saudis the nation’s geographic wealth, cultural heritage and hospitality, economic ambitions and aspirations for environmental conservation.

These projects are needed now more than ever to drive foreign investments and increase spending in the economy, as the Kingdom is expecting $7 trillion in investment and government spending to materialize by the end of the decade.

But continued liberalization and economic reforms will be needed to ensure their success, as will continuing foreign investment, according to a finance CEO and an economic consultant and former economics minister.

Nasser Saidi, former economics minister of Lebanon, now Dubai-based economics consultant, said: “These projects need to be seen in the context of the broader objective of undertaking a structural transformation of the Saudi economy.




Nadhmi Al-Nasr is the CEO of the NEOM project. (Supplied)

“Faster and deeper economic diversification is imperative for sustainable job creation for its youthful population, and to address the challenge of the global energy transition away from fossil fuels, Saudi’s main source of income and exports.

“By investing in new sectors (be it tourism, the digital economy or renewables) and in regional economic development on its western seaboard, Saudi Arabia is moving away from over-reliance on oil and redefining the image of the country.

“This is why gigaprojects continued (and related contracts were signed), even during the pandemic, while fiscal tightening was underway.

“Foreign investors can take some comfort from Saudi’s promising high-growth potential (for example in the previously untapped tourism, media and leisure sectors) and associated returns on investment.

“But these are all long-term, long-gestation projects. That is why liberalization measures (full foreign ownership, facilitating long-term residence, reforming labor markets, allowing competition, protecting property rights, insolvency and bankruptcy laws) are important to attract FDI.

“Foreign investors can also take comfort from the fact that the gigaprojects are political standard bearers; they must be seen to be successful and they will continue to be funded from PIF, SCB reserves, tapping debt markets, etc. Notably, they will be much easier to do currently when oil prices are high at $80-plus.”

Tarek Fadlallah, CEO of Nomura Asset Management in the Middle East, told Arab News: “Tourism-related projects have been given a boost by the fact that Saudis have been staying at home. I saw it myself on a recent visit to Riyadh. The whole restaurant and leisure sector has been transformed by the pandemic.

“Projects like AlUla and Qiddiya are more advanced than some others. Foreign companies and funds have actually invested in them and brought them nearer fruition.

“The gigaprojects strategy is hugely ambitious, but if they pull it off it will be a vital contribution to the success of Vision 2030. It will continue to need foreign investment to help make it work.”

The six projects are:

The Red Sea Development Company

Aiming to be a world leader in regenerative tourism, the Red Sea Project is a luxury sustainable tourism project on a 28,000 square km site on the western coast of the Kingdom.

The Red Sea Development Company, established in 2018, is fully owned by the Public Investment Fund and will lead development of the project.




An artist's impression of the Red Sea Development Company's spectacular Desert Rock mountain resort. (Supplied/Red Sea Project)

Directly employing 35,000 people, the project showcases the landscape and rich cultural heritage of the Red Sea Coast. Occupying an archipelago of more than 90 islands — some of them untouched — featuring dormant volcanoes, deserts and a wide variety of wildlife and mountainous scenery, it will emphasize environmental preservation while relying exclusively on renewable energy sources, with a ban on single-use plastics and zero waste-to-landfill.

The masterplan has been the result of collaboration between WATG and Buro Happold and includes design concepts from the world’s leading architecture firms. Work on infrastructure has already begun with 80km of new roads completed, and 10,000 workers are based at a construction village.

Qiddiya

Aspiring to be an entertainment, sports and arts hub, Qiddiya is one of the new gigaprojects within the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision. The project is built on five main pillars: Sports and wellness, nature and environment, parks and attractions, motion and mobility, and arts and culture.

Qiddiya Investment Company is another closed, joint-stock company established in 2018 and owned wholly by the PIF. Its objective is to boost the Kingdom’s status as a leading tourist destination.

A “record-breaking” Six Flags theme park will contain 28 rides and attractions in six themed lands. A key attraction will be the Kingdom’s first water theme park. Featuring 23 rides and attractions, it is expected to be the largest in the region. Qiddiya will also feature luxury-tented retreats, animal encounters and outdoor adventure and exploration.




An artist’s impression of Qiddiya, just one of a host of Saudi gigaprojects launched as part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 development plan. (Supplied)

A speed park will include an FIA grade 1 racetrack dedicated to motorsports fans as well as a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest golfers of all time, open to both elite and amateur golfers.

The Riyadh-based project is also establishing several arts and cultural centers, including an arts complex, festival grounds, a multiplex cinema and a performing arts center.

Aseer Development Project

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began a tourism strategy on Sept. 28 to develop the southwestern Aseer region with SR50 billion ($13 billion) to attract more than 10 million visitors by 2030.

Tourist attractions on Aseer’s mountain peaks will turn the province into a year-round destination, exploiting the tourism potential of its geographical and natural diversity, culture and heritage.

In addition, it will provide new job opportunities, boost life quality and upgrade essential services and infrastructure in the region.

PIF plans a $3 billion investment to build 2,700 hotel rooms, 1,300 residential units, and 30 commercial and entertainment attractions in Aseer by 2030.

Diriyah Gate Development Authority

On July 15, essential infrastructure construction of the world’s largest culture and heritage city began along Riyadh’s Western Ring Road as part of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority’s development.

The authority has been tasked by the Saudi government to redevelop the “birthplace of the Kingdom” into a world-class destination, and said it will be completing and delivering its first phase assets by early 2022.

The $50 billion gigaproject will feature some of the world’s most luxurious restaurants and hotels, with all structures built in traditional Najdi architectural style.

The first phase of the project’s masterplan will focus on a landscaped park, Wadi Hanifah, and Bujairi Terrace, featuring 18 new restaurants, several of which will be Michelin-starred, while others will offer local Saudi delicacies.

NEOM

A gigaproject, located in northwest Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea coast, NEOM is seeking contractors and investors.

In mid-September, about 150 design and construction companies visited the project for four days to explore potential partnerships and opportunities.

The project features construction villages with labor communities of up to 30,000 workers, as well as offices, warehouses and construction service establishments.




Coral reefs teem with sea life off the coast of Saudi Arabia's Yabou Island in the Red Sea. (Supplied/Neom)

In late July, the NEOM Company and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology launched a joint project to build the world’s largest coral garden at Shushah Island in NEOM.

The initiative is a perfect example of Saudi Arabia’s promise to protect 95 percent of the natural environment within NEOM. The Shushah Island Coral Reefscape, which spans 100 acres, will demonstrate coral reef restoration conservation in a changing climate. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

AMAALA

AMAALA is an ultra-luxury project at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea beach, focusing on wellness, healthy living and meditation.

The project will offer guests facilities and services that provide a luxury experience in areas such as arts, culture, fashion, wellness and sport services.

AMAALA announced on July 27 a partnership with the Saudi Art Council for this year’s 21,39 Jeddah Arts to celebrate creative and artistic talent from the region and beyond.




The majestic peaks of Al-Lawz mountain, Neom's highest peak. (Supplied/NEOM)

The exhibition will include a portion of AMAALA’s vision to promote the creative ecosystem of Saudi Arabia through art residencies, platforms and incubators.

On June 22, AMAALA received top honors at the Transform Awards 2021 with its partners, Landor & Fitch, winning the prestigious Grand Prix prize, which showcased the project’s visual and creative strategy rebranding.

In addition, on March 22 AMAALA announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Contractors Authority, enabling AMAALA to share its potential projects with members of the SCA, and then receive information about interested bidders.


Jeddah Season 2022 achieves record numbers since launch

Jeddah Season 2022 achieves record numbers since launch
Updated 28 June 2022

Jeddah Season 2022 achieves record numbers since launch

Jeddah Season 2022 achieves record numbers since launch
  • More than 5 million visitors from the Kingdom and around the world have attended Jeddah Season

JEDDAH: Jeddah Season has achieved unprecedented visitor numbers over the past 55 days since its launch, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The number of visitors exceeded five million who arrived from more than 129 countries to attend 2,800 events.

The season drew the attention of numerous local and international media outlets, with over 11,000 news articles published in 26 languages.

The media coverage on Jeddah Season reached 68 countries and has received over 250 million views.

Not only did the Jeddah Season surpass its entertainment and events objectives, but also had a substantive impact on the Kingdom's economic development, SPA reported.

The season stimulated activity in several sectors, creating more than 74,000 job opportunities for citizens.

As it wraps up its program in 5 days, Jeddah Season has proven to be a regional success story, SPA said.


Saudi FM meets Italian counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio. (SPA)
Updated 27 June 2022

Saudi FM meets Italian counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio. (SPA)
  • The prince and Di Maio reviewed the outcomes of the 12th session of the Saudi-Italian Joint Commission

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Monday received Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh.

Marking the 90th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the ministers hailed the historic links that both nations aimed to further strengthen.

The prince and Di Maio reviewed the outcomes of the 12th session of the Saudi-Italian Joint Commission, held in Riyadh on Monday to promote bilateral cooperation in a number of areas. They also discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern.


Saudi ministry launches UN mentoring program for Taif farmers

Saudi agricultural ministry in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, launched a mentoring program for farmers in Taif.
Saudi agricultural ministry in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, launched a mentoring program for farmers in Taif.
Updated 27 June 2022

Saudi ministry launches UN mentoring program for Taif farmers

Saudi agricultural ministry in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, launched a mentoring program for farmers in Taif.
  • The FAO has prepared 100 demonstration farms to promote modern practices and technologies, which are expected to positively impact farmers and encourage agricultural sustainability in rural areas

RIYADH: Saudi agriculture officials on Monday launched a UN mentoring program for farmers in Taif aimed at encouraging sustainable development.

Initiated by the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, and presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the scheme aims to help introduce more efficient farming practices through the sharing of information on proven techniques and by providing access to industry experts.

The ministry’s director for Taif, Hani Al-Kadi, said: “Taif is no less significant than other cities in the Kingdom, due to its agricultural diversity and yearly abundance in crops.”

FASTFACT

The FAO has prepared 100 demonstration farms to promote modern practices and technologies, which are expected to positively impact farmers and encourage agricultural sustainability in rural areas.

He noted that introducing farmers to effective agricultural concepts and objectives would greatly contribute toward, “producing safe and sustainable food, maintaining consumer confidence, ensuring mindfulness toward the exploitation of natural resources, and reducing environmental harm.”

Kakoli Ghosh, the FAO’s chief technical adviser to the program, said global advances in farming methods and agricultural practices had helped to increase production, job opportunities, and standards of living for small farmers, while also preserving natural resources for future generations.

She pointed out that the program would include visits to Taif farms at Al-Hada, Al-Shafa, Wadi Mahram, and Al-Dayha.

The FAO has prepared 100 demonstration farms to promote modern practices and technologies, which are expected to positively impact farmers and encourage agricultural sustainability in rural areas.

The Saudi ministry first launched the Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program in cooperation with the FAO in 2019. It has been designed to boost the production, processing, and marketing of fruit, fish, livestock, and Arabic coffee, and the cultivation of rain-fed crops.

The Vision 2030 reform plan aims to diversify the Kingdom’s economy and boost contributions to gross domestic product by pushing sustainable development in all sectors of the economy. One of the main areas of focus has been on the conservation of natural resources, including the rationalization of water consumption in agriculture and achieving food security.


Cambodian king praises Muslim World League efforts in strengthening civilizational alliance

Al-Issa praised the Cambodian model for achieving harmony among its national diversity. (Supplied)
Al-Issa praised the Cambodian model for achieving harmony among its national diversity. (Supplied)
Updated 27 June 2022

Cambodian king praises Muslim World League efforts in strengthening civilizational alliance

Al-Issa praised the Cambodian model for achieving harmony among its national diversity. (Supplied)
  • Al-Issa expressed his appreciation for the prestigious university and praised the values of tolerance and coexistence adopted by Cambodians as they had become an inspiring role model in fighting all forms of hatred, racism, and discrimination

PHNOM PENH: King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia received Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League and chairman of the Muslim Scholars Association.

The king praised the tangible impact of the league’s efforts in strengthening the civilizational alliance among diverse groups around the world and awareness among Muslim societies.

Al-Issa visited the Islamic Center in Phnom Penh and met Cambodia’s Muslim leadership. He praised the Cambodian model for achieving harmony among its national diversity.

He gave the Friday sermon at the Grand Mosque of Phnom Penh upon the request of the Islamic leadership in Cambodia. Hundreds of worshippers attended the sermon, with Al-Issa addressing key issues facing the Muslim world.

Al-Issa met the Grand Buddhist Patriarch of Cambodia Tep Vong and Patriarch Bor Keri.

The Royal University of Phnom Penh hosted Al-Issa, where he gave a lecture titled: “Our Common Values and Civilizational Alliance.”

The Royal University of Phnom Penh is the biggest in Cambodia. It was founded 62 years ago and has 20,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs.

Al-Issa expressed his appreciation for the prestigious university and praised the values of tolerance and coexistence adopted by Cambodians as they had become an inspiring role model in fighting all forms of hatred, racism, and discrimination.

He shared his views about the common values among humans as these values had granted full rights to everyone in Cambodia, despite the differences of religion and race, and made modern Cambodia live in security and stability.

 


Who’s Who: Dr. Fahad Al-Dossari, president of the General Authority for Statistics

Dr. Fahad Al-Dossari
Dr. Fahad Al-Dossari
Updated 27 June 2022

Who’s Who: Dr. Fahad Al-Dossari, president of the General Authority for Statistics

Dr. Fahad Al-Dossari

Dr. Fahad Al-Dossari is the newly appointed president of the General Authority for Statistics.

As president, he is tasked with leading the authority through a critical period that includes the strategic transformation of data collection processes in the Kingdom.

Al-Dossari began his career in 1999 as an economics researcher at the Saudi Central Bank, and in 2009 became the head of the money and banking division in the bank’s research and statistics department.

While at the Saudi Central Bank, he became the director-general of the research and statistics department, and in 2013 its director of international affairs.

From 2013 to 2017, Al-Dossari held the position of director-general of the Institute of Finance, formerly known as the Institute of Banking. He also served as deputy governor for administrative affairs at the Saudi Central Bank from 2016 to 2019.

Before becoming president of the General Authority for Statistics, Al-Dossari served as deputy governor for research and international affairs at the Saudi Central Bank.

Al-Dossari is the chairman of the board of directors of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa.

He is also a board member of multiple organizations including the Social Development Bank, Saudi Real Estate Development Fund, Agricultural Development Fund, and the Public Pension Agency.

Al-Dossari received a doctorate in economics in 2008 from the University of Leeds in the UK.