Work on Qiddiya City, part of Saudi Arabia's vast sports and entertainment-focused project Qiddiya, is progressing with contracts worth 10 billion Saudi riyals ($2.66 billion) awarded so far as the kingdom presses ahead with its Vision 2030 economic diversification agenda.
Located on the outskirts of Riyadh, the project will include 60,000 buildings covering an area of 360 square km and is expected to eventually have more than 600,000 residents, Qiddiya said on Thursday.
Qiddiya City is also expected to create more than 325,000 job opportunities, yielding a nominal gross domestic product of 135 billion riyals ($36 billion) a year.
The project is also hoping to attract about 48 million visits per year.
Qiddiya City will include a gaming and e-sports district aimed at becoming a global centre for competitions, as well as a speed park, golf courses, a multipurpose stadium, a water theme park and Six Flags Qiddiya.
Some of the destinations “which will be launched in the coming months”, Qiddiya said.
The update came after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as the chairman of the board of the Qiddiya Investment Company, launched the urban design for the city of Qiddiya and Qiddiya’s brand.
Qiddiya will become the foremost global destination in the fields of entertainment, sports and culture, he said.
This will have a positive impact on the kingdom's economy and its international standing, and also aims to improve the quality of life, making Riyadh one of the top 10 economies globally, Prince Mohammed said.
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is transforming its economy under its Vision 2030 diversification agenda as it aims to reduce its dependence on oil, boost domestic industries and support jobs growth.
It is developing several large projects in line with this strategy, including Qiddiya, as well as Neom, a $500 billion futuristic city, the Red Sea Project and the Diriyah Gate heritage development.
Midway through the Vision 2030 implementation, “strong performance has been achieved against many of the economic goals”, a report by consultancy PwC in October found.
Saudi Arabia’s mega projects “have made significant progress in the last few years, moving from the conceptual phase to construction”, the report said.
However, some of the projects launched as part of the 2030 plan are being delayed to build capacity and avoid huge inflationary pressures and supply bottlenecks, Bloomberg quoted Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan as saying on Thursday.
A longer period is needed to “build factories, build even sufficient human resources”, Mr Al Jadaan said in Riyadh.
“The delay or rather the extension of some projects will serve the economy,” he was quoted as saying.