The Saudi government plans to spend SR160 billion ($42.6 billion) over the next 20 years to expand Makkah with a new residential area for 800,000 people. The Makkah Gate project was unveiled recently in Jeddah by Osama Al-Bar, the mayor of Makkah, and Essam Kalthoum, managing director of the project. Al-Bar briefed Makkah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah and journalists on the first phase of the project, which will start in July this year. "This is a mega project that will be built in the western part of Makkah, called the Al-Bawaba Makkah project, which is a modern suburb about 13 km from the Grand Mosque.
The total area of the project will be almost 108 million square meters," he said. Al-Bar said the development would include a government complex on about 6 million square meters, a natural park on 15 million square meters, a 25,000-unit housing complex, malls, schools, 11 mosques, sports complex and possibly a second Makkah university. The first phase called "Dhahiat Sumou" would be on almost 1.6 million square meters, which would include the 25,000 houses. The development would have fresh water, electricity and transport facilities as part of the Makkah metro. He said the project, and several others in the holy city, would be based on public-private partnerships.
The Makkah Gate Company is a nonprofit firm owned by the Al-Balad Al-Ameen Development and Urban Regeneration Company, the investment arm of the Makkah Municipality. Kalthoum said the project would be completed in five phases over 20 years. "We are currently talking about an area of about 87 to 90 million square meters that can be extended up to 108 or 110 million square meters. The municipality owns Al-Bawaba Makkah. Our mandate is to develop these areas as an extension of the holy city," he said. He said the new development would have a residence for the Makkah governor and would be divided into about 60 neighborhoods with complete amenities. This site would have a system to protect the residential areas from floodwater coming from surrounding valleys.