In what is considered the single largest private sector investment in Saudi Arabia, the announcement of the 'King Abdullah Economic City' to be built at a pristine location off the Red Sea in the north of Jeddah with an investment of SR100 billion ($26.6 billion), is a signal of the dawn of a new era of economic prosperity for the citizens of the Kingdom.
The project, which will be a New Age City being built today for tomorrow's generation of Saudi citizens, was officially launched by The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin AbdulAziz AlSaud in the presence of HRH Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz AlSaud, Saudi Crown Prince, Minister of Defence & Aviation and Inspector General, and His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai & UAE Defence Minister and several dignitaries.
"The King Abdullah Economic City will be another jewel in the crown for Saudi Arabia and a shining example of what can be achieved for the common good when two brotherly nations get together for ever closer co-operation," said HH General Sheikh Mohammed. "I am certain that what will be achieved through this project will create its own chapter in the annals of the GCC."
The King Abdullah Economic City will be a multi-stage development with construction beginning on Wednesday, 21 December, 2005. This mega project will closely integrate itself into the Kingdom's on-going drive to expand the economy, create employment opportunities for its youthful population and function as a catalyst to attract foreign investment, global trade, commerce and industry. Based on initial forecasts, the project and its several components will create up to 500,000 employment opportunities in the various industries and service-oriented companies that will open in the City.
The City will be a mixed-use development located north of the commercial hub of Jeddah to ensure easy access from the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madina. A massive 55 million square metres of greenfield land with a 35 km shoreline close to the industrial city of Rabegh has been earmarked for the master development. The City will have six distinct components a modern world-class Seaport, Industrial District, Financial Island, Education Zone, Resorts and The Residential Area. Completion of the overall project will be done in stages with the first batch of businesses and residents moving into the City in a period of 24 to 36 months.
Emaar Properties, the world's largest real estate company in terms of market capitalisation, is the master developer of this ambitious project, the biggest outside of its home market of the UAE. SAGIA (Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority), the apex body responsible for inward investments into the Kingdom, is the prime facilitator for the development.
SAGIA's Investor Service Centre will facilitate the provision of services to potential investors. The Centre is SAGIA's "one-step" solution aimed at minimizing the number of formal steps associated with investment in the Kingdom.
Central to the mega project is the creation of a 2.6 million square metre new Millennium Seaport similar in size to the world's top 10 ports, such as Rotterdam, that would allow even the world's largest super vessels to drop anchor. With its strategic location on the Red Sea and the instant access to key cities within Saudi Arabia, the port will have a designated area for light industry and logistics and be a natural platform for onward movement of goods to Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond. The port will have an integrated transport system with seamless high speed transitions from sea to rail, road and air, making the City the main gateway to the central and eastern provinces as well as the entire Kingdom.
The port, with its close proximity to the two Holy Cities of Makkah and Madina, will have a dedicated Hajj terminal that can receive over 500,000 pilgrims every season. To cater to the pilgrims' every need, there will be adjoining hotels, medical centres and other world-class amenities.
The second component of the City The Indu