JEDDAH: Work to regenerate central Jeddah is largely being carried out by Saudis, according to the head of the project.
CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Central Jeddah project Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al-Saleem oversees the SR75 billion ($20 billion) plan to develop 5.7 million square meters of the port city, which will include major international landmarks — such as an opera house, a museum, a sports stadium, and coral farms.
It will also feature a marina, restaurants, beach resorts, over 2700 hotel rooms and 17,000 homes in the Kingdom’s second-largest city, which has a population of around 4 million.
In an interview with Al-Ekhbariya, Al-Saleem said that the project is designed to turn the area into a cultural and sports tourist destination.
But he also pointed out that many of the workers across its sites are Saudi locals.
He said that the project has a mix of male and female engineers, with 85 percent of the company’s staff made up of Saudis, 30 percent of whom are women.
Al-Saleem went on to outline plans for the area’s existing desalination plant, hospital and sports stadium.
He said that the desalination plant will be developed into a museum showcasing the desalination sector, as well as other industries in the Kingdom.
Al-Saleem added: “As for the hospital, it will remain as it is, while the stadium will be demolished, and a new stadium, that has been designed to meet the highest FIFA requirements, will be constructed instead of the old one.
He said: “The project is bordered by the Al-Salam Palace from the south and extends to include the city’s desalination plant. It also lies between the sea and the King Abdul Aziz Road.”
The project head said that the state owns both locations on which the project will be built, according to the interview on the Saudi satellite TV channel.
This means that there will be no need for the expropriation of land, with legal property documents having already been transferred to the Saudi Public Investment Fund( PIF), which is behind the development. The sovereign wealth fund also plans to attract local and foreign investors.
In December 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the master development of the project, formerly known as New Jeddah Downtown.
The development company is currently working with the relevant authorities to carry out the regeneration according to an approved timescale.
The project, which aims to add SR47 billion to the Kingdom's economy by 2030, will be carried out in three phases, the first of which will be completed by the end of 2027, and will then begin to cater to residents and visitors.
The operational work of the project will pave the way for the local private sector to play a part in the project.