BARCELONA: The 11th Real Estate Development Summit — Saudi Arabia/ Europe Edition kicked off in Barcelona, Spain, with speakers discussing the Kingdom’s burgeoning real estate and tourism markets.
“It takes two and a half hours to fly from one corner of Saudi Arabia to another; people don’t realize the size of the vastness, and the difference in climate and natural features. We will be introducing mounting points for skiing and of course, some of the best beaches in the world,” said Jason Addison, senior real estate adviser, BCG, and the panel chair.
The summit began on Wednesday morning in Hotel Barceló Sants with a welcome address by GBB and the summit host Sabina Ali, business development manager at Forbes Middle East.
Following the welcome address, presentations were made on innovation, sustainability, and technology by Raya Ani, founder and design director of RAW NYC.
The summit then hosted face-to-face meetings curated for each attendee, between buyers looking to source materials and architects, and suppliers.
In the first panel, titled “Delivering a Destination,” three speakers took to the stage to discuss the significant giga-projects in the works: Saeed Albially, vice president of projects development at Knowledge Economic City; lan Williamson, group chief project delivery officer at The Red Sea Development Company; and Amr Salah, executive director of infrastructure and utilities for the Royal Commission of AlUla.
“We are building prestigious hotels; we are talking about 50+ hotels and resorts and social and extracurricular (centers) are going to be built in AlUla in the next four or five years max,” Salah said.
“We are also signing a tramway for AlUla to connect all of the heritage and destination places in the area by an experiential tram. It is very ambitious and very unique, you can’t find a similar tram in the whole world that provides a luxurious experience to the customers while also fulfilling a transportation need,” he added.
The panel also discussed ways that Vision 2030 is recreating the Kingdom as a world-class destination through giga-projects undertaken by the likes of The Royal Commission for AlUla and The Red Sea Development Company.
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the chairman of The Red Sea Project and AMAALA as well as that of other projects. He gave us the mandate to reach the very best global talent, the world’s best architects, the best engineers, and the world’s best interior designers, all of whom came on board and are now helping to accomplish our journey,” Williamson said.
The panel also discussed real estate projects that go beyond host communities and serve not just the residents.
Williamson said that The Red Sea Project currently has more than 500 consultancy contracts with world-renowned five-star hotels.
The panel members also stressed the importance of investing in human capital for the industry to truly prosper.
“Investment in the people of Saudi Arabia is a top priority for the crown prince,” said Salah. “Hiring more people in Saudi, training them and allowing them to gain experience with international firms — it is a goal by itself,” he added.