Revealed: US's Hill bids on Saudi entertainment, cultural projects

EXCLUSIVE: American consultancy is determined to win "at least one big project" in 2019, senior vice president tells CW

The glass-clad Maraya concert hall is one of Saudi Arabia's latest cultural schemes.
Middle East Architect
The glass-clad Maraya concert hall is one of Saudi Arabia's latest cultural schemes.

Hill International has submitted two bids for cultural and entertainment megaprojects in Saudi Arabia, the American construction consultancy's senior vice president in the kingdom, Dr Adel Karem Jemah, told Construction Week in Riyadh.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed construction management firm's SVP said he wanted to win “at least one big project” in the kingdom this year.

He added: “We obviously would like to win, along with our partners, at least one big project, and then maybe a couple of medium-sized projects.

“Big projects, as you are aware, involve high risk if there is a delay. That increases the challenge for cash flow, but luckily all our clients pay regularly and pay on time.”

Following a region-wide slowdown in 2015, Jemah said Hill International was “optimistic” about Saudi Arabia, in part thanks to its social and economic reforms.

With 11 years to go until Saudi Arabia reaches 2030 – the apex of its long-term vision to reduce oil dependency – Jemah said the “ambitious” gigaprojects supporting this plan will require everyone to “think outside the box”.

However, the gigaprojects – among Saudi Arabia's top construction projects of 2019 – face tight construction timeframes, and Jemah suggested “innovative” procurement and management strategies may be needed to prevent delays.

While Hill may have one eye on the Saudi gigaprojects, the consultancy already boasts a healthy order book in the kingdom. 

Alongside Riyadh Metro and King Abdullah Financial District, Hill is working with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health on King Faisal Medical City and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Medical City. It is also working on 10 other hospitals dotted around the country with the ministry.

In the property sector, Hill is working on the “prestigious” Ajdan residential development in Al Khobar for Al-Oula Real Estate Development Company, which the developer says covers 4ha.

Hill International has also been awarded contracts for King Salman Park and Sports Boulevard – two of the four, $23bn (SAR86bn) megaprojects announced by the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz in March 2019.

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