Saudi Arabia 6 mega projects launched by Saudi Arabia have a total value in investment of $7 trillion by 2030 (Arab News, 2021).
These projects have an almost epic value, materializing the vision of a futuristic world, with entire cities that arise from nothing, literally rising from the sands of the remote and uninhabited Saudi desert.
As part of the strategic Vision2030, the purpose of mega-projects is to diversify the national economy.
By investing in new and unexplored sectors for the country, such as tourism, leisure, culture, sports, digital economy or renewable energy and sustainability and by aiming at the development of almost uninhabited areas of the country, Saudi Arabia is moving away from its past, from an economy almost totally dependent on oil and redefining the image of the country.
With these six iconic mega-projects, Saudi Arabia affirms its ambition to assume a central economic and cultural role on the global stage and wants to become an example in the conservation and care of the environment. Each of the projects, in fact, involves careful planning to respect and enhance the environment in which they are set, the fragile configuration of the ecosystem and biodiversity. This is particularly true for the Red Sea Development and the delicate coral reef that characterizes these places still untouched by human settlements. Some of the most advanced technologies will be applied to preserve the ecosystem, maximizing the sustainability of the project in terms of energy and environmental protection.
Saudi Arabia has a very young population, for which there is a need to create skilled jobs. In addition, the medium/high income of a large part of the Saudi population allows them to travel several times a year to find foreign tourist destinations not available in the country so far. The mega project of Qiddiya, a city dedicated to entertainment, sports and arts, for example, has the ambition to redirect the tourist travel spending of the resident population back home, as well as attracting visitors from abroad.
They are all six long term mega projects of long and careful preparation, owned and managed by the government in partnership with often foreign groups, which have made it necessary to introduce substantial and organic regulatory reforms, with the aim of making direct investment attractive also from abroad (FDI). These have been a series of bold liberalization measures, essential to normalize the Saudi market. They include full ownership for foreigners, facilities to obtain long-term residency, protection of property rights and competition, laws governing insolvency and bankruptcy and much more. In essence, Saudi Arabia has aligned itself with regulations in place in, for example, the UAE, which have so far always attracted significant foreign investment to that country.
Does the “vision” of these incredible Saudi cities of the future, hyper-technological and eco-sustainable, made on a human scale but respecting the balance with the environment, seem destined to come true?
It seems so, the conditions are all there and as long as the price of oil travels at current levels and the long-awaited energy transition still seems far away to be realized, the Saudi dream seems more and more realistic…
In the next blog, the first of the six mega-projects: Qiddiyah, the capital of entertainment, sports & arts.