MADINAH: The massive SR500 billion expansion projects under way in Madinah are on track and becoming a reality for all to see, said Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of the city, here recently.
Speaking at the opening of a forum and exhibition on the city’s projects, Prince Faisal said the construction includes the extension to the Prophet’s Mosque and various health services and security projects approved by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.
In his address, Prince Faisal said that Islam encourages the development of land to keep up with technological changes and advances. It was an essential part of all civilizations, aimed at providing the best possible services to people.
Madinah was changing so that it could meet the conditions and needs of society, and ensure that pilgrims and visitors from here and abroad can visit in safety and comfort.
Prince Faisal said the city’s administrators have formed a committee to execute and monitor all projects. The committee would make sure that all contractors respect and protect the city’s Islamic architectural heritage.
“These sites and treasures are cared for and documented by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH), the specialized authority entrusted with preserving all sites connected with the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him.”
He said that the SCTNH had documented much of the heritage “related to that glorious period, to help the younger generation of Muslims maintain strong ties with their rich Islamic history.”
“The construction and development activities will, God willing, go hand in hand with identifying, recording and documenting religious, cultural and noteworthy architectural sites, as well as working diligently to protect and preserve them according to the highest world standards, which is of utmost importance.”
“We are both hopeful and keen that the basic development and construction remain as faithful as possible to the identity of the place, the design style, and the social and natural environment.”
Prince Faisal said that the development of Saudi Arabia, particularly in Makkah and Madinah, has been taking place consistently since the days of the late King Abdul Aziz, the Kingdom’s founder.
“This has now continued under King Salman, reflecting the balance between meeting the needs of the people, visitors and pilgrims, and preserving the great cultural heritage of this land.”
Earlier this year, King Salman approved the Darb Al-Sunnah Project, which is being developed under the Madinah Development Authority, according to Prince Faisal, the president of the body.
Prince Faisal had thanked the king for approving the 3-km development between the Prophet’s Mosque and Quba Mosque. In a telegram to the king, the prince said the project would upgrade the area, while protecting the original architecture of Madinah.
He said the project takes into account palm farms surrounding the mosque, which would provide visitors and residents with recreational facilities. It includes the King Abdulaziz Complex for Waqf Libraries, that enhances the city’s role as a cultural icon in the Islamic world, he said.
King Salman had earlier this year also launched the revamped Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Airport that would cater for increasing numbers of local and international visitors.
Heralding a new era of public-private partnership in the Kingdom’s aviation history, the iconic project, spread over an area of 4 million square meters, is the Kingdom’s first airport constructed and operated entirely by the private sector.
Occupying an area of 4 million square meters, the new airport would in its first phase handle 8 million passengers a year, rising to 18 million in the second phase, and then 40 million after the third and final phase.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has been operating the airport on a trial basis since April to check systems. It is the first airport in the Kingdom constructed and operated entirely by the private sector.
GACA raised financing by forming partnerships with Saudi and foreign companies. The project was won by a consortium consisting of Al-Rajhi Holding Group, Saudi Oger and TAV Airports Holding. The total investment for the first phase is $1.2 billion funded by the National Commercial Bank, Saudi British Bank and Arab National Bank, under the supervision of the International Finance Authority, a member of the World Bank Group.
The main travelers’ building covers 155,000 square meters and has 72 check-in counters, of which eight are for larger size baggage, 24 counters for self-check-in services, 26 passport counters for departures and the same number for arrivals. There is seating for 4,000 people.
Technologically advanced services include 36 elevators, 28 escalators and 23 conveyor belts, to facilitate and speed up the movement of passengers and luggage inside the passenger terminal complex.
In addition, the new airport features local and international shops, restaurants, and cafes, banking, and transport services including buses and taxis. Six external terminals have been built over an area of 10,000 square meters, and are close to the Haj terminal to speed up procedures.
It is the first facility in the world outside America to abide by the standards for energy use stipulated by the United States Green Building Council.
The city’s massive facelift is expected to cost around SR500 billion over the coming few years, according to economists. An estimated 2.6 million people would live in the city within the next 25 years, with 12.2 million expected to visit annually, they said.
Yousuf Al-Maimani, a member of the Shoura Council and the Investment Council of Madinah, said the city had the most diversified and attractive investment initiatives in Saudi Arabia.He said the Namaa Al-Munawara project has helped to launch the businesses of many young Saudi entrepreneurs, with loans worth over SR700 million through the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank.
Mohammad Faraj Khatrawi, chairman of the Madinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a member o
f the investment council, praised King Salman for approving the projects, which he said would ensure unprecedented development in the city.
Khatrawi said one of the Kingdom’s largest projects, the Madinah Economic City, was started in 2006, which ensured that “land was allocated and large amounts of funds were invested in constructing the infrastructure for Madinah and real estate development projects.”