The recent MENA Projects Tracker published by global bank Citi stated that of the $2.5tn worth of work currently on the books in the Middle East, 90% is in the GCC. Saudi Arabia and Qatar lead the way, with $784bn and $669bn worth of projects respectively. Much of what is planned is still either early-stage or in the pipeline, with construction yet to move onto site. Only 56% ($1.4tn) of it is defined as under construction, while 25% ($600bn) is classed as being at a “relatively advanced” stage of pre-contract development and 21% ($500bn) is defined as early stage.
Below are the top projects in Saudi Arabia.
King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) ($33 billion)
In 2006, Saudi Arabia’s mammoth King Abdullah Economic City, which stretches across 189mn m2 along the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast, was simply a concept.
Today, it is an emerging city with “thousands of people living and working there on a daily basis,” says Michael Chihoski, chief operating officer at developer Emaar TEC.
Initial infrastructure, including roads and utilities, is in place. However, this will be expanded over the next few years, as part of a $33bn investment.
500,000 Housing Units in Different Areas of Saudi Arabia ($68 billion)
In 2011, the Saudi government announced plans to build 500,000 homes over several years in a bid to tackle a housing shortage, earmarking $68bn in funds.
Parts of the development are underway. The first major contract was given to Parsons International for master planning and designing housing and infrastructure for the first phase, which covers 32mn m2 of land divided into 11 sites across the country.
These sites range in size from 10mn m2 for the biggest, which is at Dammam (pictured), through to a 729,000m² site in Khamis Mushayt. Others are in Jeddah, Madinah, Al Ahsa, Qatif, Tabuk and Al Kharj.
Sudair Industrial City ($40 billion)
The $40bn development of Sudair Industrial City, a 258 square kilometer mega-city designed to host over 30 small cities, got underway in 2009.
The project is one of a number of purpose-built industrial cities planned in Saudi Arabia as it diversifies its economy away from oil and develops projects to provide more jobs.
Jeddah Kingdom City ($27 billion)
The first phase of $27bn Jeddah Economic City, which is set to include the world’s next tallest building, has been earmarked for completion in 2020.
Kingdom Tower, which will be more than 1,000-meters high, will alone cost an estimated $1.5bn to build.
Financing for the tower, which received final municipal approvals in 2012, is expected to be finalized by the end of this year.
Saudi Binladin Group won the contract to build the tower, for which underground work has been completed, from Kingdom Holding in 2011.
Ras Al Khair Minerals Industrial City ($25 billion)
The $25bn Ras Al Khair Minerals Industrial City is being developed by the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu.
Phase one, which comprises an area of 11,000 hectares, is underway and expected to take 10 years. The masterplan was developed by Atkins.
The city has been set up to exploit bauxite and phosphate deposits. A $1.8bn aluminum smelter has already been built by Bechtel, which will be served by a huge new bauxite mine and refinery as part of a $10.8bn complex run jointly by Saudi Arabian mining company Ma’aden and Alcoa.
Ma’aden is also building a huge phosphate development within the city, Waad Al Shamal, at a cost of $7.5bn. In February, the firm announced it had signed $3.7bn worth of deals with EPC contractors to build different elements.
Riyadh Light Rail Network ($23 billion)
The project is developed by Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) at a cost of $23bn.
Work on the first two lines (the Blue Line and Green Line) that will make up the 175-km Riyadh Light Rail Network got underway in April more than $23bn worth of contracts in were awarded in July last year.
Six lines will link the capital city’s center, government facilities, universities, commercial areas, the airport and the financial district.
At 175km long and with 84 stops, the metro will be the longest in the world.
Jubail II – Sadara Petrochemical Complex ($15 billion)
The $15bn project is made up of 26 plants, this huge petrochemical complex is under construction in Saudi Arabia’s Jubail Industrial City II (pictured, right).
The project is being developed by Sadara, a joint venture formed in 2011 between Dow Chemicals and local oil giant Saudi Aramco.
King Faisal University in Al-Ahsa ($14.721 billion)
Parts of the $14.721bn King Faisal University in Al-Hasa in Saudi Arabia have been completed, including the Girls Science College project, which was handed over by contractor Al-Khodari in September last year. The company is building three other faculties at the university.
Makkah-Madinah Railway Link (MMRL) – Haramain ($13.7 billion)
Construction of the $13.7bn Makkah-Madinah high speed railway, also known as Haramain, got underway in March 2009 after multiple contracts were awarded for phase one to firms including China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), Al Arrab Contracting Company and Scott Wilson.
Work was initially meant to conclude on the 450km railway in 2012, but the line is now expected to be up and running by the end of 2015. The Kingdom’s Shoura Council has called for a probe into project overruns.
Yanbu Export Refinery ($12 billion)
Being developed by Saudi Aramco, the $12bn Yanbu’s Export Refinery is a 400,000 bpd full-conversion refinery located on the Red Sea coast.
Its expansion, which will increase the overall capacity from the current 280,000t a year to 710,000t, got underway in January 2011 and is expected to be completed by 2015.
Expansion of Makkah Holy Haram ($11 billion)
The $11bn ongoing expansion of the holy mosque, or Haram, in Makkah will see the Mataf area enlarged to accommodate 6mn worshippers, while the number of floors will be increased to six.
Sixty-three hotel towers are also planned as part of the development by the Jabal Omar Development Project company. These have been awarded in phases, with four contracts handed out to date between 2011 and 2014.