Wednesday, October 8, 2008

US$7.2b Project Planned Near Riyadh

Source : The Business Times, October 7, 2008

(CAIRO) Saudi Arabia's Al-Shoala Group and Dubai-based Emaar Properties have teamed up on a US$7.2 billion community project near the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Emaar said the Rawabi Rumah project will have luxury homes, apartments, commercial and retail space, hospitals and community centres. The community project will include a 162-hectare park.

Al-Shoala's chairman Prince Meshal bin Abdul-Aziz said in a statement on Saturday that the project will create 25,000 jobs.

'Rawabi Rumah will be a trend-setting development and a new lifestyle destination for the Saudi people,' Prince Meshal said.

The community plan is the latest in a series of ambitious mega-projects in the region. Gulf Arab countries, flush with oil funds, are looking to revamp their landscapes with gleaming skyscrapers and full-service gated communities, while trying to diversify their oil-based economies.

The push for new job creation in Saudi Arabia comes as the country struggles with rising unemployment that has in the past been blamed by some for the radicalisation of the youth.

Some economists and analysts, however, say such efforts fail to address education and other key areas requiring reform that are critical to sustainable economic growth in a country where the bulk of the work force are foreigners.

Emaar said in a statement that several international designers are aiding in plans for the community. It said 60 per cent of the area was allocated for residential development.

Construction on the site is expected to begin next year, with the first villas ready for handover in 2011, Emaar said in a separate email statement.

The company added in the email that the project 'is a reiteration of our confidence in the regional economy. While the global financial meltdown has its impact across all economies, the Middle East region - particularly, (the Gulf) economies - have cushioned the effect through its focus on infrastructure development projects'. -- AP

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