Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya awards 700m riyal contract at Riyadh mega-project

Construction will begin this month and be completed by mid-2023

FILE- In this Sept. 22, 2019 file photo taken with a slow shutter speed, vehicles pass in front of the landmark Kingdom Tower, at left, during celebrations marking Saudi 89th National Day, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The United States’ Gulf allies have pushed for hawkish policies by Washington to pressure, isolate and cripple Iran, but this high-stakes strategy is now being put to the test by the surprise U.S. killing of Iran’s most powerful military commander. As the region braces for what comes next, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are calling for de-escalation. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya Investment Company, backed by the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, awarded an infrastructure contract worth 700 million Saudi riyals (Dh685.5m) as it looks to speed up the construction of a mega entertainment and sports project near the capital, Riyadh.

The contract was awarded to Saudi Arabia-based Shibh Al Jazira Contracting Company (SAJCO) for work related to roads and bridges, Qiddiya said in a statement on Monday.

“Although 2020 has presented some unprecedented circumstances, Qiddiya has proudly sustained a 'business as usual' protocol, signing our second major construction contract with SAJCO and achieving yet another major construction milestone for this year,” Michael Reininger, chief executive of Qiddiya, said.

The mega-project includes a number of facilities for sports, arts and entertainment activities and is being constructed on a 334 square kilometre site close to Riyadh. It is a part of the Saudi Vision 2030 programme that aims to diversify the economy away from oil.

The  contract involves the construction of 45 kilometres of roads and seven bridges and grade-separated interchanges that will provide access from the main approach highway to the project site.

SAJCO's chief executive Zyad W Suleiman said Qiddiya “will change the entertainment and economic landscape of Saudi Arabia forever".

Construction will begin this month and be completed by mid-May 2023, according to the statement.

The Qiddiya project is being funded by the Public Investment Fund and the government. The company plans to raise additional money through a bond or sukuk offering but did not disclose the exact size of the offering.

The mega-project, which includes a theme park by US operator Six Flags, will be home to more than 300 recreational and educational facilities. These are centred around five major themes including parks and attractions, sports and wellness, nature and the environment, arts and culture, as well as motion and mobility.

Saudi Arabia is undertaking a number of major projects spanning various sectors including real estate, entertainment and tourism. These include the $500 billion (Dh1.8 trillion) Neom business and industrial zone extending into Egypt and Jordan and a Red Sea tourism project, which includes a nature reserve, coral reefs and heritage sites on about 50 islands.

Qiddiya Investment Company is planning to award 10bn riyals of contracts to various companies this year to step up construction at the project, Mr Reininger told The National earlier this month.

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Six Flags Qiddiya project

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