SAGIA Opens Doors: The Kingdom Is Hoping Its Six Economic Cities Will Stimulate Growth and Encourage Social Change. but Much Work Remains to Be Done

By Irish, John | The Middle East, May 2007 | Go to article overview

SAGIA Opens Doors: The Kingdom Is Hoping Its Six Economic Cities Will Stimulate Growth and Encourage Social Change. but Much Work Remains to Be Done


Irish, John, The Middle East


IN AUGUST, KING Abdullah marks the beginning of his third year as ruler of Saudi Arabia. In that time, his people's expectations have risen to new levels, in parallel with the ongoing high oil prices. Economic liberalisation has come hand-in-hand with the relaxation of social and political norms. The Saudi media is now filled with previously taboo subjects and after years in the doldrums there is a genuine sense that the country is coining alive. "It is a new vision which is reshaping the kingdom, giving people confidence and making it more attractive on the world scene," explains a Riyadh-based diplomat.

The new direction centres on economic diversification and widening the role of the private sector. Unlike in previous booms, the government is driving a comprehensive strategy to move away from its hydrocarbons-dominated past. The creation of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) was deemed the first step. Set up to target foreign and private investors, it has grown in stature. Its chairman, Amr Dabbagh, is close to King Abdullah and considered a progressive thinker. It has set itself a target of placing the kingdom among the world's top ten competitive investment destinations by 2010.

Under SAGIA's auspices, the kingdom is pressing ahead with a bold initiative to create six economic cities as a means of enticing foreign investment and repatriating Saudi money. In 2005/2006 it launched four integrated cities: King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) near Rabigh, Prince Abdulaziz bin Mosaed Economic City (PABMEC) in Hail, Jizan Economic City (JEC) and Medina's Knowledge Economic City (KEC). A new one will be unveiled imminently at Tabuk, while a sixth city will be launched at a later stage in the Eastern Province. The government is also considering a city in partnership with Yemen. Each city aims to develop a specific business sector. Industry will be the focus in Jizan. Recreation and tourism will be centred in Rabigh. Hail will enable logistics and agriculture, while Medina will develop knowledge-based industries.

SAGIA estimates the entire programme's contribution to GDP to be about $150bn by 2020, raising the country's GDP per capita to $33,500 from $13,000. "It was an extraordinary response in the first 12 months," says a senior SAGIA official. "As a result, we have received proposals from private developers so they can launch their own economic cities, but we have had to curb some of their enthusiasm."

The cities are also the cornerstone of the government's efforts to resolve the kingdom's worsening unemployment problem, which stands at between 12-20%. According to Dabbagh, the new developments will provide job opportunities for 1.3m people. "Jizan is one of the largest areas in the kingdom and is among the least developed," says Abdullah Basodan, chairman of the board of Western Way for Industrial Development Company, which is building an aluminium smelter in JEC. "It has the largest potential for Saudi people to gain employment so we can draw on that pool."

Likewise, it is hoped the cities will fill the demand for good quality and modern accommodation. The country's youthful population--some 60% are under the age of 20--are increasingly demanding real estate developments similar to the kingdom's neighbours. SAGIA says the cities will house some 4.5m people. "The cities have had a positive impact on the economy and there are major expectations," says Zuhair Hamed Fayez, managing director of Jeddah-based development firm Tamlik. "It's a good way of putting things in motion."

But while the rationale for the cities may be evident, it has not been plain sailing since KAEC was launched in 2005. Until now, very little construction has actually occurred. KAEC is the most advanced. However, other than ground levelling works, a sales centre and a few tenders for residential buildings, progress has been slow. Yet, the developer, Emaar Economic City, expanded the size of the development by nearly four times to cover over 168m sq km, making it the largest project ever undertaken in the Middle East. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

SAGIA Opens Doors: The Kingdom Is Hoping Its Six Economic Cities Will Stimulate Growth and Encourage Social Change. but Much Work Remains to Be Done
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.