Tourism Development Fund inks deals to finance $43bn KSA projects

Saudi Arabis’s Tourism Development Fund singed a deal with two local banks to finance tourism projects in the kingdom worth $42.7bn (SAR160bn).

The kingdom is the home to gigaprojects that are not just driving the nation’s tourism sector, but helping the country achieve its Vision 2030 agenda. These projects include the $500bn (SAR1.9tn) NEOM; the 28,000km2 The Red Sea Project; the 366km2 Qiddiya entertainment city; the $17.1bn (SAR64.1bn) Diriyah Gate; as well as the 4,155km2 AMAALA.

The financing deals were singed in the presence of Saudi Minister of Tourism and chairman of the fund’s board of directors, Ahmad Al-Khateeb by the Tourism Development Fund’s CEO, Qusai Al-Fakhri with the CEO of Riyadh Bank Tareq Al-Sadhan, and the managing director and CEO of Banque Saudi Fransi, Rayan Fayez, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The deals are based on the setting up financing programmes to support and develop the tourism sector in the kingdom.

The statement by SPA said: “This agreement includes defining ways of cooperation between the fund and the participating banks by setting up mechanisms to support financing tourism projects in various regions of the Kingdom.”

Additionally, the deal will also help stimulate investments in the tourism sector and support the private sector, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), by providing various financial products. These products include multiple credit facilities and financial guarantees in partnership with commercial banks designed to serve a large number of investor segments in the tourism sector to facilitate financing operations for tourism projects.

Commenting on the deal, Al-Fakhri said: “This agreement constitutes an essential step toward supporting and developing tourism projects in the Kingdom.”

He added that the role and commitment of the fund to support and develop the tourism sector continued by stimulating investment and building a solid relationship with banks and financial institutions, which would create distinct investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Riyadh Bank said that the partnership will enhance the role of banks in supporting the private sector, including small and medium enterprises, and enabling the development of tourism projects in the Kingdom. He stated: “The tourism sector is one of the most important sectors that support the economy.”

Fayez said that the agreement coincides with the effective role of banks in achieving the objectives of the tourism sector, which is one of the most promising sectors for investment, and will be the beginning of an effective partnership with the fund, which will contribute to creating investment opportunities in the Kingdom.

He pointed out that these agreements play an important role in creating tourism projects and destinations, which in turn contribute to achieving the goals of the National Tourism Strategy, which aims to increase the contribution of the tourism sector to the GDP from 3 to 10%, provide one million new jobs, and receive 100 million local and international visitors by 2030.


Saudi Sakani’s “self-construction” benefits 51,000 families in 2020

The self-construction option offers subsidized loans and executive engineering designs that help citizens build their own units

The self-construction option of the Sakani programme offers support in obtaining a mortgage loan, which gives Saudi citizens the freedom to build their own units, and enables eligible citizens who own residential land to construct appropriate housing for their families.

In order to obtain the subsidised loan for self-construction, the citizen must be registered in the ‘Sakani’ scheme; must own residential land; have a valid building permit; have a fixed income that enables him to obtain a loan; and must not have previously availed of housing support from the Ministry of Housing or the Real Estate Development Fund.

This enables citizens to construct their residential units using innovative, high-quality, and modern designs. The service also provides competitive prices from 15 experienced designers, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

During the first eight months of 2020, the Sakani programme has served more than 254,000 families through all of its solutions and options, including the purchase of land; self-construction; the purchase of ready-made or under construction units, and more, taking the programme another step closer to its target of helping 300,000 families in 2020.


Saudi Arabia’s construction sector is powering Vision 2030

The infrastructure and construction industry is a crucial pillar of the government’s plan to overhaul the Saudi Arbia economy. Anwar Hadidi and Nav Dulay from Deloitte explain why.

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, it was reported that the infrastructure and construction industry in Saudi Arabia was amongst the largest in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, with more than $825 billion worth of planned and unawarded projects. The industry had seen growth in the contracts awarded – from $11.2 billion in 2016 to $14.6 billion in 2018.

However, given the volatility experienced around the world as a result of the recent pandemic and the fluctuating oil price, the forecast for construction output growth has been revised from 4.6% to 2.9% in 20203. This forecast is based on a positive scenario that the market will return by the third quarter of 2020, with eased travel restrictions which will aid international mobility into the Kingdom. However, if this mobility forecast should alter, then there may be a further downgrade expected to the output growth projections, which are dependent on international infrastructure specialists and government support.

With increased focus from both the private and public sector, the need for infrastructure and construction development will continue to grow in line with Vision 2030. As the Kingdom further opens the leisure and hospitality market, the ease of travel to the Kingdom will continue to drive growth in the hospitality sector.


This has seen an increase in the number of rooms being built, leading to international hoteliers having an increased construction and development need to drive their growth ambitions, supported by foreign direct investment. Although this has seen a recent marginal slowdown as a result of the impact of Covid-19, activity is expected to return with Saudi Arabia having the largest pipeline of rooms under development in the region with approximately 210 projects that aim to deliver over 69,000 rooms, which is in line with the Kingdom’s strategic vision to transform the country to further aid future stability.

Powering the construction sector

Saudi Arabia has embarked on a journey to undertake a large-scale economic overhaul, which has seen both private and public sector companies focused on reforms, further supporting Vision 2030. Under this, the government is planning Saudi Arabia’s economic, educational and related wholesale reforms with the aim of innovating and diversifying the Kingdom’s landscape.

To accomplish these goals, the government has created the National Transformation Project (NTP), an action plan to improve three overarching and important pillars of the country: economic enablers, standards of living for its citizens, and governmental operational excellence.

Vision 2030 and the NTP provide the foundations underpinning the integration of sustainable development goals into the national planning process. One of the key programs of Vision 2030 – Life Quality – is directly linked to the sustainable development goals. At the heart of all this sits Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure and construction industry.

With ongoing investment and technological advancements, the country is investing in diverse projects. The aim of such large-scale initiatives is to provide access to housing opportunities for lower-income groups, create new employment opportunities, and further diversify the economy. Saudi Arabia is planning to invest approximately $1 trillion in the country’s non-hydrocarbon sector by 20305. Some of the key projects include Neom, the Red Sea Project, Qiddiya Entertainment City, King Abdullah Financial District and Amaala, to name a few.

These substantial infrastructure investments are the foundation on which the Kingdom is envisioning its new future. Along with these ‘giga-projects’, Saudi Arabia is also investing in many social and urban development projects, such as the Sakani housing program, further illustrating the country’s commitment to driving development using smart tech.

In order to further enhance mobility in the Kingdom, the government is investing in expanding the transportation infrastructure through city infrastructure projects, such as the $22.5 billion Riyadh Metro and Riyadh Rapid Bus Transit System. Reflecting the changing times, Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure and construction industry continues to be driven by technology adoption, dynamic approaches to construction delivery and implementation of new operating standards, which further fuel infrastructure and construction growth in the country.

Technology adoption

With mega-projects such as Neom, the Kingdom’s PropTech market is expected to gain further traction. Approximately $2 million in seed funding has been allocated to home maintenance services startups such as B8ak, FalconViz, Ajeer, and Muqawiloon. PropTech is disrupting and improving the way transactions of residential and commercial properties take place, changing the traditional ecosystem. Alongside this and in the post-Covid-19 era, the need to drive technology adoption in construction with the use of AI, robotics and 3D printing will become more important to meet future demand in a changing world.

Dynamic approach to construction delivery

Technology adoption is expected to continue to transform construction delivery. The use of prefabricated building techniques, such as those used by the Ministry of Housing with 3D printing, reduces the construction time, provides standardisation, improves quality and is less labor intensive than traditional techniques whilst adding agility and addressing continued demand.

Implementation of new operating standards

To incorporate the sustainable development goals into existing processes, the Saudi government is actively working towards investing in green buildings and standardising the building rating system. The Ministry of Housing developed a new standard for rating buildings, known as the Mostadam Standard.

Referring to the Saudi Building Code (SBC) and designed to comply with existing legislation while reflecting regional building rating requirements, the Mostadam Standard was launched in 2019. The government remains conscious of the need to develop sustainable buildings in order to reduce the impact of buildings and construction on energy usage and CO2 emissions.

The infrastructure and construction industry remains crucial to the government’s plan to overhaul the Kingdom’s economy, more so now as post Covid-19 actions are being planned, taking into account the economic challenges the pandemic presents. With giga-projects incorporating a mix of technology and sustainable development elements, the government is trying to engage not only marginalised communities but the young demographic as well.

The Kingdom has ongoing support from some of the largest funds in Saudi Arabia, which continue to invest in key projects, such as the recently launched real estate company ‘Roshn’ led by PIF, which will specialise in developing integrated urban neighbourhoods containing residential communities across the country; this, coupled with an optimistic sense of improvement in the global trade environment, is further empowering the Kingdom to usher in a new era led by digital transformation and emerging industries, which will positively impact both current and future generations.


$500B Saudi City NEOM Selects Bechtel to Accelerate Work

NEOM has selected Bechtel to accelerate primary infrastructure development for its Cognitive Cities. It has awarded a contract to the U.S.-based global industry leader for executive project management work.

Saudi Arabia is building the cross border city NEOM, a US$500 billion futuristic mega-project deep in a desert bordering the Red Sea — the Kingdom says “it will be 33 times the size of New York City with plans for flying cars and robot dinosaurs”, according to a report in Business Insider.

Neom is a portmanteau of the Greek word neos, meaning “new,” and mustaqbal, the Arabic word for “future”

“Blueprints obtained by the Wall Street Journal detail wild plans for artificial rain, a fake moon, robotic maids, and holographic teachers. Phase one is due for completion in 2020, with the final brick laid in 2025.”

According to a report posted by Bechtel in LinkedIn, the US engineering and consulting giant with global outreach, will oversee and create resource-efficient utilities and a highly advanced transport system to connect NEOM’s cognitive cities. Work will include simultaneous construction in multiple locations requiring extraordinary engineering solutions in challenging terrain.

“After Jubail, the 2nd world class city construction has started with area of 42000sqkm.. (and the) city size is anew as Belgium,” says an American professional based in Riyadh.

It will cover 10,230 square miles, and cost Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund at least $500 billion — plus millions in foreign investment if it can get it.

“Infrastructure and master planning work has started at site and offsite. Firms from UK, US and other countries are also involved”.

Besides Bechtel, Aecom, SNC Lavalin are also in the US$500 billion project, says a source.

So far, Neom Co has also signed contracts with Saudi telecom company STC for a 5G network, and a $5bn partnership with US-based Air Products and Saudi Acwa Power to develop the world’s largest green hydrogen and green ammonia plant, to be operational in 2025.

The NEOM dovetails Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan launched in April 2016.

It is being built in the Tabuk region near the kingdom’s border with Jordan and sits next to Gulf of Aqaba, bordering Israeli’s port Eilat in the north and several Egyptian ports along the south.

Neom is part of Vision 2030: an ambitious plan to revolutionize Saudi society, reduce dependence on oil, and make the country a technology hub

Many regional experts see the ambitious real estate project as a strong link that might bind Saudi Arabia with Israel for the long haul.

Planned as a beacon for the future of urban living in the kingdom based on 5G technology and renewables, NEOM will be far beyond the capabilities of today’s smart cities. Its infrastructure will utilize AI, robotics, and human-machine fusion to deliver greater predictive intelligence and enable faster decision making across all sectors.

According to reports, NEOM (a planned 16-borough city) will be the home and workplace to more than a million residents from around the region and around the world.

Neom is supposed to draw on “cloud seeding” technology to make artificial clouds which will produce more rainfall than naturally possible in the desert

Commenting on the award, NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al Nasr said: “Built from the ground up as a model of future living, NEOM will be one of the largest, most sophisticated and advanced infrastructure projects ever undertaken globally, and we are delighted to have a major industry leader like Bechtel on board to work with us to realize our ambitions.”

Bechtel Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Brendan Bechtel said: “NEOM is one of the most complex projects in living memory and we are proud to be part of it. The vision for a futuristic, innovative and sustainable ecosystem is unique and bold, and we believe NEOM will change the way new cities are developed by future generations. We have helped our customers shape the Kingdom’s history with many key projects and we are honored to be a partner in building its future.”

Neom will also have the “leading education system on the planet,” with classes taught by holographic teachers

Bechtel has long experience of working in Saudi Arabia, beginning with the construction of the Trans-Arab Pipeline in 1947.

More recently, it has worked on Jubail Industrial City and the Riyadh metro.


Acciona achieves key construction milestone at Saudi plant

Spanish infrastructure major Acciona said it has achieved a key construction milestone on the Al Khobar 1 project with the production of the first cu m of water (equivalent to consumption of a four-member family for a day) at its desalination plant on the east coast of Saudi Arabia.
Acciona is a world leader in desalination using reverse osmosis technology, which emits 6.5 times fewer greenhouse gases than thermal desalination.
The Spanish group is the EPC contractor for Al Khobar 1, which it expects to complete before the end of the year.
Once operational, the desalination plant, which is owned by the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), will produce 210,000 cu m of potable water per day, serving a population of 350,000 inhabitants.
On the key milestone, Ignacio Lobo Gutiérrez, Acciona Project Director, said: “It is the result of good teamwork between the client, our engineers and the construction teams. Now that we are entering the final stage of construction, we will undertake a number of trials and tests to make sure everything works perfectly.”
The plant, equipped with energy-efficient Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) technology, is a critical project in the modernisation of the water sector being undertaken by SWCC.
Acciona Middle East Managing Director Jesús Sancho said while it was delighted over the achievement at Al Khobar 1, it was equally proud of another miletone – relaated to workers’ safety.
“We have successfully clocked five million man-hours without lost-time injuries, an example of Acciona’s dedication to the health and wellbeing of our employees and our partners, and our commitment to our client and to the local authorities.”
Saudi Arabia, with a population of about 33.4 million, is the world’s third largest per capita consumer of water, behind the US and Canada.
The kingdom has introduced measures to rationalise water consumption as part of its Vision 2030 program, with the goal of achieving a 24 per cent reduction in consumption in 2021 and by as much as 43 per cent by the end of this decade.
According to Acciona’s latest Sustainability Report, desalinated water production in the Middle East will be 13 times higher in 2040 than it was in 2014. In a region with acute water scarcity, demand for desalinated water is being driven by climate change and population growth.

Saudi’s SCA reveals 2020-2024 strategy for contracting sector

The Saudi Contractors Authority (SCA) has announced its new strategy for 2020-2024 during its fourth general assembly meeting, which aims to keep pace with the transformations taking place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s contracting sector.

The strategy intends to fulfill its part in Saudi Vision 2030 and its various programmes. Through the strategy, the authority has built a vision for the contracting sector that prepares for the future and works to overcome the current challenges.

The strategy takes note of the entry of new official bodies; the changes in the tasks of some parties who have a direct or indirect influence on the sector; the aspirations of stakeholders and the challenges of the contracting sector; international best practices and benchmarks; market trends; as well as the future aspirations of the authority.

The updated strategic plan comprises 22 initiatives, of which nine are organisational initiatives concerned with organising the sector; eight are service enabling initiatives to enable and develop the contracting sector; four are internal initiatives to complete the internal capacity building and competencies of the authority and achieve financial sustainability; and one initiative is to provide specialised and high-impact services and solutions to the enterprises of the contracting sector, especially small and medium enterprises.

These inputs were viewed within the framework of the roles and powers that Saudi’s Cabinet Resolution No. 510 gave to the authority.

The updated strategic plan will be based on four main axes, under which nine strategic objectives will be included to achieve the strategic direction.

At the fourth General Assembly Meeting (GAM), the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Eng Osama bin Hassan Al-Afaleq, welcomed the members of the General Assembly. The Secretary General of the Saudi Contractors Authority, Eng Thabet bin Mubarak Al Sweid, reviewed the annual report of all the authority’s achievements for 2019.

In addition, the estimated budget for 2020 was presented to all members of the association, and all the general assembly participants’ inquiries for each item were answered. The strategic work plan of the Saudi Contractors Authority for the year 2024 was also presented to all members.


Qiddiya: SAJCO wins major infrastructure project

Saudi Arabia’s SAJCO has won a £190mn major roads and bridges contract at Qiddiya.

Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) has revealed its new contract which will involve the construction of 45 kilometres of various roads and bridges across the entertainment city.

The large-scale infrastructure work is set to begin immediately and aims to be completed by May 2023.

The news was confirmed by the city in a promotional video across a number of its official social media platforms.

1,000 extra workers have been added to the project and it is estimated that 6.5 million cubic-metres of earth will be excavated. In addition, 80,000m3 of concrete will be used for the construction of bridges and 1.2 million square-metres of asphalt for road surfaces.

Qiddiya CEO Mike Reininger commented on the announcement, saying: “This stormwater drainage, roads and bridges will provide access to all facilities and assets on the lower plateau of our site, enabling the transport of key construction materials to the various development sites within Qiddiya’s lower plateau,” said Reininger.

“Once again, we are pleased to be working with an experienced Saudi company and we look forward to announcing even more major contracts later this year”.

About Qiddiya

Based in Riyadh, Qiddiya (also known as Al-Qiddiya) is an entertainment megaproject which is set to be one of several tourist spots in Saudi Arabia as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 scheme which aims to embrace other income resources in the nation as opposed to oil.

Construction of the project begun at the beginning of last year, and will include various tourism attractions with the first being “Six Flags Qiddiya” as a family attraction.

The project is also set to break records with the world’s fastest roller coaster, the tallest drop-tower ride and the largest theme park.

Upon completion of the first phase, an additional 45 individual projects will be completed whilst 300 re-creative, hospitality, leisure and sports will be launched.


TRSDC awards contract for construction of Red Sea International Airport in Saudi Arabia

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) has awarded the contract for the construction of the Red Sea International Airport; its largest value contract to date for airside infrastructure works for the destination’s international airport, set to open in 2022.

The contract was awarded following a competitive tendering process to a joint venture between leading Saudi contractors Nesma & Partners Contracting Co. Ltd and Almabani General Contractors, both of whom have a strong track record for delivering similar projects in the region.
Scope of work
The contract covers the essential construction of airside infrastructure works, including the design and building of a Code F Runway 3,700 meters, Code B Seaplane Runway, Parallel & Link taxiways and pavement works, Aeronautical Navigational Aids, Aerodrome Ground Lighting, Airside utilities, helipads, roads and associated buildings.
According to John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company, the company is making huge progress in the development of a world leading destination and by awarding the largest contract to date, the company takes another significant step in this direction, while demonstrating the ongoing commitment to creating opportunities within the Saudi Arabian construction sector.
“Turning our vision into reality will require us to work with organizations that share our values and our uncompromising commitment in enhancing the environment. This was a key consideration when appointing Nesma & Partners Contracting Co. Ltd and Almabani General Contractors. Both our partners have impressive expertise in delivering airside infrastructure, coupled with both local and international experience,” he said.
Once complete, the the Red Sea International Airport will serve an estimated one million tourists per year catering to both domestic and international flights. Envisaged as a unique and iconic airport, it will provide an unforgettable aviation experience for travellers and guests. In addition to the dedicated airport, the first phase of the development includes sixteen hotels offering 3,000 hotel rooms across five islands and two inland sites, as well as commercial, retail and leisure facilities and other infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya continues ‘business as usual’, inks $186.5m construction contract

Deal signed with Shibh Al Jazira Contracting Company (SAJCO) to build storm water drainage facilities, roads and bridges at the 334 kilometre square entertainment, sports and arts giga-project.

Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) has inked a major three-year construction contract worth SAR700 million ($186.5m) with Saudi Arabian contractor Shibh Al Jazira Contracting Company (SAJCO) to build stormwater drainage facilities, roads and bridges at the 334 kilometre square entertainment, sports and arts giga-project.

And despite the global Covid-19 pandemic, QIC chief executive Michael Reininger has insisted that it is business as usual at the site.

The stormwater drainage, roads and bridges will provide access to all facilities and assets on the lower plateau of Qiddiya’s site, which will make transportation of major construction materials to the various development sites within Qiddiya’s lower plateau feasible.

As part of the agreement, SAJCO will construct 45km of roads, seven bridges and grade-separated interchanges. The infrastructure facility will provide access from the main approach highway to Qiddiya’s Resort Core that will be home to theme parks and other attractions, towards the Motion Zone, featuring motor racing facilities, and to the Golf and Equestrian Community.

SAJCO will excavate 6.5 million cubic meters of earth to build the roads. Additionally, the company will use more than 80,000 cubic meters of concrete for the bridges and associated structures and 1.2m square metres of asphalt for the road surfaces.

QIC said that construction on the roads and bridges will begin this month, and will be completed by mid-May 2023.

Over 1,000 skilled workers will be deployed on the site to complete the infrastructure project.

Zyad W. Suleiman, CEO of SAJCO, said: “Qiddiya, as the giga project will change the entertainment and economic landscape of Saudi forever.”

QIC, which will commence testing and commissioning in 2022, is planning to announce “even more major contracts later this year”.


$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is launching a SR3 trillion ($800 billion) plan to double the size of Riyadh in the next decade and transform it into an economic, social and cultural hub for the region.

The ambitious strategy for the capital city was unveiled by Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, ahead of key meetings of the U20, the arm of the G20 leaders’ summit that deals with urban development and strategy.

“Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” he told Arab News.

“We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens.”

About $250 billion in investment is expected from the private sector, with the same amount generated by increased economic activity from population growth, finance and banking, cultural and desert tourism, and leisure events.

“We must also ensure the growth is managed properly, so there will be a focus on transport and logistics, including the Riyadh metro which will open at the beginning of next year. The aim is to increase productivity,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plan involves the creation of a “mega industrial zone” focusing on advanced technology such as renewables and automation, and biotechnology and aquaponics. Another key feature is sustainability, with energy conservation, the circular carbon economy with its emphasis on reducing emissions, and water management, all priorities.

“You will see 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years, and King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London,” Al-Rasheed said.


  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion.
  • 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years.
  • King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

The city also aims to be a Middle East artistic and cultural hub. An opera house is being considered, as well as public art shows with 1,000 works commissioned from around the world. “We have not seen anything like it since Renaissance Florence,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plans will be discussed this week during online meetings of the U20 linking Riyadh with Houston. The Texas oil capital is suffering a new spike in coronavirus cases and pandemics will be on the agenda. “We want to deal with this one, but also be ready for the next one,” Al-Rasheed said.


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