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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Al Akaria to build ‘city’ costing 10bn riyal for first phase

The seven million square metre project will be located near Riyadh

Saudi Real Estate Company for Infrastructure wins the contract to develop infrastructure of Al Widyan mega-project. Waseem Obaidi for The National
Saudi Real Estate Company for Infrastructure wins the contract to develop infrastructure of Al Widyan mega-project. Waseem Obaidi for The National

Al Akaria Saudi Real Estate Company (Sreco), the Saudi-listed developer in which the kingdom’s wealth fund has a 65 per cent stake, plans to build a mixed-use “city” at a cost of 10 billion riyals (Dh3.43bn) for the first phase.

In a filing to the Tadawul on July 12, Sreco said it has established a fully owned subsidiary called Al Widyan Holding. This company will be responsible for developing the Al Widyan mega-project – although Sreco did not reveal the plans at the time.

“Al Widyan will be a new paradigm for community living in the kingdom and

embody the spirit of new Saudi Arabia,” said Abdulrahman Almofadhi, chairman of Sreco.

Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy presents opportunities for public and private real estate companies to develope new projects to modernise the kingdom.

The government aims to increase Saudi home ownership to 70 per cent by 2030, from 47 per cent now.

Sreco is one of the biggest real estate companies listed on the Tadawul stock exchange with a market capitalisation of 3.5bn riyals. The Public Investment Fund holds a 65 per cent stake in the firm.

The city will span 7 million square metres of land in the northern growth corridor of Riyadh close to the airport.Al Widyan will be the first private real estate project in the kingdom granted the status of a self-regulating authority, or Self Regulatory Office (SRO), which is similar to a commercial free zone in other countries. Such a status de-risks the project for investors, fast-tracks permit services and removes other bureaucratic processes, Sreco said on Monday.

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Early construction work actually began in 2017, the company added, and several provisional agreements have been signed with prospective investors while other talks are ongoing.

Specific details of Al Widyan’s components are not yet publicly available, but Sreco said it would comprise a mix of leisure, retail, education, health care, office and residential uses. The project will seek a 40 per cent reduction in energy use compared to existing, similar-sized schemes, and a 35 per cent reduction in water use. The scheme will be officially launched in October and is expected to complete within seven years with a phased programme of development.

“With Al Widyan, we are taking a new approach to real estate development,” said Mr Almofadhi. “We have focused on putting people’s wellness at the centre of the conception, design and creation of this project.”