Super size me

Massive-scale projects are not exclusive to Dubai. As Christopher Sell finds out, other GCC countries have grandiose developments in the pipeline, too.

ANALYSIS, Business

While Dubai has pioneered investment in the region over the last few years, neighbouring emirates and countries within the GCC are all beginning to utilise growing interest and investment in the region with the announcement of massive-scale projects. These range from coastal residential resorts to mixed-use urban economic centres.

With figures from a recent report by Dubai-based Proleads, revealing the value of construction within the region has now reached US $1 trillion, it is clear Dubai no longer has the monopoly on grandiose schemes. As such, Construction Week casts an eye over the largest and most significant projects that can be found within the GCC.

King Abdullah Economic City

With an estimated value of US $120 billion (SAR 447 billion), the massive project is located 100km north of Jeddah on the banks of the Red Sea, and between the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. The city will be divided into six distinctive components: the Sea Port, Industrial Zone, Central Business District, Resort District, Educational Zone and Residential Communities.

It will feature 63 million m2 of industrial land and will become home to two million people. The city is designed to give investors and entrepreneurs' worldwide opportunities to provide Saudi Arabia's youth with one million job opportunities.

Emaar is the master developer of the 168 million m2 (which is triple its original area) development. In October, the company signed a $34.5 million roadworks contract with Saudi Binladen Group. The project covers the construction of a 13-km road from the KAEC main gate to the Bay La Sun village residential community within the economic city. Work is scheduled for completion in seven months.

Madinat Al-Hareer, City of Silk

Kuwait's huge urban development project is expected to take 25 years to complete and cost an estimated $86 billion. The centrepiece of the project will be the Burj Mubarak Al-Kabir, which is expected to eclipse one kilometre in height.

Located opposite the capital city, Madinat Al-Hareer has been on the drawing board for some time, but last month Kuwait's Municipal Council approved drawing sketches of the 250 km2 development. The council also agreed to the construction of the Jaber Al-Ahmed Bridge that will link the two urban centres.

The project includes construction of a two million m2 natural desert reservation, a new airport, a large business centre, as well as areas that concentrate on the environment, sports, media, health, education and industry.


Part of Tatweer (part of Dubai Holding), Dubailand represents the focus of Dubai's drive to meet 15 million tourists a year by 2015. Officially announced on 23 October, 2003, Dubailand will be built on a 278km2 site (twice the size of DisneyWorld), with private investment expected to reach $6 billion for the first phase alone.

Construction will be spread over four phases, with Tatweer targeting seven master themes: theme parks, culture and art, science and planetariums, sports and sports academies, well-being and health, shopping and retail, and resorts and hotels. It will have a total of 45 mega-projects within the development. A number of developments can be seen off the Emirates Road already taking shape; Dubai Sports City is already well underway, with Motor City undergoing expansion, while the Polo and Equestrian Club and Al Sahra Desert Resort are already operational.

Dubailand projects a population of 2.5 million, which includes tourists, workers and residents, once fully operational. Other highlights include Bawadi and the Tiger Woods Dubai - the world's first golf course designed by Tiger Woods.

Bawadi - the world's largest hospitality and leisure development will double the number of rooms in Dubai by 2016 to 29,000 - a joint venture signed earlier this year with Al Ghurair Investment will see the development of the world's largest shopping area, encompassing 3.7 million m2.

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Mousaed Economic City

The second in a series of economic cities being planned in the Kingdom by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), is another key element in Saudi Arabia's initiative to develop its economy, generate regional growth and create employment opportunities.

Covering an area of 150 million m2, the $53 billion city will incorporate a cluster-based development comprising: transportation, logistics and supply chain centres; educational services; agricultural and food processing services; mining and commercial services. In terms of logistics and supply chain, an international airport is expected to capture three million passengers per year, a railway station for two million passengers annually and dry ports capable of handling 1.5 million tonnes of cargo. Located at Hail, it is equidistant from Jeddah, Riyadh and the Eastern province, which provides a good 'northern gateway' to the Kingdom along a number of key trade routes.

Rakisa Holding Company has signed a strategic agreement with three financial institutions in the region to launch several investment funds, with total investments topping $2.9 billion. These institutions include Kuwait Finance & Investment Company, Gulf Finance House and Abu Dhabi Investment House.

Yas Island

Central to Abu Dhabi's aspirations as a cultural tourism destination, Yas Island will be the site for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will be inaugurated in 2009.

The $40 billion Aldar project occupies a total land area of 25 million m2, of which 17 million m2 will be claimed for development. Alongside the F1 track, the development will feature a Ferrari theme park, water park, hotels, marinas and 300,000m2 of retail area.

Blue City

Oman is also getting in on the mega-project act, with its $20 billion development. In September, it was announced that Al Sawadi Investment and Tourism (ASIT) had finalised the launch plans for the 32km2 project.

The largest development in Oman, construction will be spread across a 15-year time frame. Initial construction has already begun with Anees Issa Al Zadjali, chairman of ASIT saying that vertical construction will begin in December 2007.

Located on a natural peninsula 30 minutes from Muscat Seeb Airport, the development is designed as a waterfront city being built along 16km of shoreline adjacent to the Gulf of Oman. It is considered to be the most significant development taking place in the Sultanate creating a city for 250,000 people.

Al Raha Beach

Another Aldar project, Al Raha is a 10km-long, linear development occupying 70% reclaimed land. The $18 billion development will comprise 47km of beachfront, three parks, five beaches and four marinas. It will have a total of 130 towers and a peak population of 120,000. Construction began in 2005 and is expected to be completed in 2019.

Pearl Qatar

While maybe not as sizeable financially as the other projects featured, the $2.5 billion covering 40km of reclaimed land offshore the Arabian Peninsula state of Qatar - the wealthiest country per capita, represents the country's first international real estate venture and its largest real estate development.

The project developer is United Development Company (UDC), the island is located 350 metres offshore of Doha's West Bay Lagoon and features 12 distinct themed districts to be implemented over a five year period. These include Porto Arabia, Viva Bahriya, Median Centrale, Qanat Quartier and the Abraj Quartier.

The development, which is built on a reclaimed pearl diving reef, will encompass 7,600 residential units split up into 21 20-storey towers with 3,116 apartments and 410 town houses. It will also have four marinas that can moor over 700 boats.

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