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Western Region attracts billions in realty projects

The Kingdom’s Western Region is experiencing an unprecedented real estate boom, with billions of riyals earmarked for mega projects. Among the most important are the SR15 billion, mixed-use Prince Sultan Cultural Center, north of Jeddah, and Bawabat Makkah, a visionary city planned for 86 square kilometers just west of the Holy City of Makkah.
Both projects will be highlighted on day two of the Jeddah Real Estate Summit workshops alongside the 5th Jeddah Urban Development and Real Estate Investment Event — Cityscape Jeddah 2014, from May 4-6 with the support of Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed.
Ahmed Al-Sanousi, CEO of the Jeddah-based Prince Sultan Cultural Center (PSCC), will share the remaining developer and investor requirements for the PSCC project.
“PSCC and neighboring projects are transforming the area into an extension of the Kingdom’s commercial capital,” said Sanousi. “Summit attendees and exhibition visitors will learn of promising investment opportunities available for PSCC, including housing, education, tourism and hospitality, and commercial activities.”
PSCC will be developed in phases over the next five years on an area of two million square meters on Madinah Road, adjacent to King Abdullah Sports City. The Center will have a state-of-the-art 920-bed medical complex, as well as an open-air theater (Prince Sultan Cultural Oasis), a conference and exhibition center, residences, and a wide variety of residential support facilities.
Equally high on the agenda for day two is the Bawabat Makkah project, to be detailed by Essam Kalthoum, MD of Bawabat Makkah Company, who stated that the government is allocating new funding and there are eight subprojects for Bawabat Makkah soon available for bid.
Commenting on building a sustainable, one-million-person city on deadline, Kalthoum said: “Bawabat Makkah will have a significant impact on Makkah’s real estate market, thus it has been planned taking into consideration market demands combined with our commitment to social responsibility. It is phased to be developed according to availability of infrastructure and following a master plan dependent on the variance of land-use.”
Kalthoum went on to comment on stakeholder management techniques for politically-driven projects, saying: “Bawabat Makkah enjoys the support of the regional government as well as the Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs. Both agencies are backing up the Makkah Municipality, which is the main executor of most of the developments in Makkah. The most evident support can be seen in the establishment of Al Balad Al Ameen as the development arm of the Municipality of Makkah, with one of its main responsibilities being the establishment of proper partnership platforms with the private sector.”
Another discussion topic will be real estate developments in Saudi Arabia facing the old issue of privately-owned land being left undeveloped in order for it to accrue value.
Kalthoum said: “Bawabat Makkah’s strategy aims at formulating development plans that identify the land use and product mix as well as several iconic projects such as a university, an administrative quarter and a national park.”
In addition to these iconic projects, other topics being discussed by the Kingdom’s real estate leadership at the summit include project funding, off-plan sales, ways to support the mortgage law, and the Kingdom’s construction labor shortage.
Raeyd Al-Dakheel, CEO, Mawten Real Estate Company said: “The recent development opportunities lie in the size of the Saudi real estate market, which is the largest in the region. With economic stability, higher internal demand, progressive social changes, relatively low construction cost, as well as the government’s current investments in infrastructure, and the newly introduced legislation and regulations all indicate a good opportunity.”