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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Saudi Arabia to develop mixed-use projects adjacent to two holy cities

The projects will contribute a combined 15 bn riyals to GDP by 2030

Mecca is expected to receive 30 million visitors by 2030. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo
Mecca is expected to receive 30 million visitors by 2030. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, plans to develop mixed-use projects in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina that will contribute annually 15 billion Saudi riyals to the Arab world's largest economy by 2030.

The two companies, Rou’a Al Haram in Mecca and Rou’a Al Madinah, have been created and will be tasked with the development of the projects, which include hotels, residential units, commercial space, and museums. The developments are expected to serve the increase in worshippers to the two cities and create new revenue streams as part of the country’s Vision 2030 aimed at weaning the kingdom off oil income.

The companies’ “establishment is in line with Vision 2030, which aims to provide an opportunity for the largest possible number of Muslims to perform Hajj and Umrah, and to enrich and deepen their experience through the development of the Two Holy Mosques,” the fund said in two separate statements.

The fund didn’t disclose the cost of the projects.

The Mecca projects will create around 160,000 jobs by 2030, with an estimated annual contribution to GDP of 8bn riyals. Construction is expected to commence next year with completion of the first phase anticipated in 2024.

The Medina project will generate around 200,000 jobs, with an estimated annual contribution to GDP of 7bn riyals.Construction is due to start next year with the first phase of development expected to be completed by 2023.

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The number of visitors to Mecca is expected to rise to more than 30 million by 2030 and visitors to Medina to 23 million.

The first phase of the Rou’a Al Haram’s projects will span an area of 854,000 square meters, delivering 115 buildings of various architectural designs. The development includes 70,000 new hotel rooms that can handle 310,000 visitors per day, 9,000 residential units, 360,000 square meters of commercial space and prayer areas for more than 400,000 worshipers. The project will take be located 1,430 meters away from the Holy Kaaba.

Rou’a Al Madinah will develop a 1.3 million square meter site nearly 1,000 metres away from the east wing of the Prophet’s Mosque. The project includes constructing 500 new housing units and 80,000 hotel rooms, increasing hotel capacity to welcome 240,000 guests per day. The number of prayer areas will also be able to accommodate 200,000 worshipers per day. The development also includes commercial space, cultural centres and museums.