Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company awards contract for an international airport

The new airport is set to open in 2022 on the west coast of the country

Render design of Red Sea International Airport. Courtesy The Red Sea Development Company
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Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Development Company, which is building a tourism project on the kingdom's Red Sea coast, awarded an infrastructure works contract for an international airport located within the development.

The contract was awarded to a joint venture between Saudi Arabia-based Nesma & Partners Contracting and Almabani General Contractors, the company said in a statement on Monday. The value of the deal is not disclosed.

“The Red Sea Development Company is making huge progress in the development of a world leading destination and by awarding our largest contract to date, we take another significant step in this direction, while demonstrating our ongoing commitment to creating opportunities within the Saudi Arabian construction sector,” said John Pagano, chief executive of The Red Sea Development Company.

The Red Sea project is being developed over 28,000 square kilometres of land and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 islands. The destination also features mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes and ancient cultural and heritage sites.

The first phase of the development will include 16 hotels offering 3,000 rooms, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, a new airport and supporting infrastructure.

“We are proud to be selected to contribute to the development of the Red Sea International Airport which we believe will play a key role in the transformation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by welcoming up to one million visitors per year to the destination by 2030,” Rami Alturki, vice chairman  and board member at Nesma & Partners Contracting Company, said.

The contract covers the construction of airside infrastructure works, including the design and building of a runway, pavement works, aeronautical navigational aids, helipads and roads. The design contract for the airport, which is set to open in 2022, was awarded to Foster + Partners in October 2019.

The Red Sea Development Company, which is wholly owned by the kingdom's Public Investment Fund, has awarded contracts worth 5.3 billion Saudi riyals (Dh5.19bn) to date, a spokesperson from the company told The National.

Saudi Arabia is undertaking a number of projects spanning various sectors including real estate, entertainment and tourism as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 programme that aims to diversify the economy away from oil. Other projects that are under construction include the $500bn (Dh1.8 trillion) Neom business and industrial zone extending into Egypt and Jordan as well as a mega entertainment and sports destination, named Qiddiya, near the capital, Riyadh.

Tourism is expected to contribute more than 10 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product by 2030 – up from 3 per cent currently – and provide one million jobs. The country recently set up a $4bn fund to develop the tourism industry.

Qiddiya Investment Company, which is developing the Qiddiya project, is planning to award at least 10 billion riyals ($2.66bn/Dh9.79bn) worth of contracts to various companies this year to speed up the construction of the entertainment and sports projects at the site.

"We've awarded well over 1bn riyals contracts so far and that figure is going to jump, may be 10 times to 10bn riyals, which will all be construction-related contracts," chief executive Michael Reininger recently told The National.