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Knowledge Economic City in Al-Madinah inks SR1 billion ($267 million) deals at Cityscape

United Arab Emirates: Tuesday, December 05 - 2006 @ 13:03

The Knowledge Economic City (KEC), Saudi Arabia’s giant knowledge-based industries (KBI) complex in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, launched by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin AbdulAziz in June, signed three major memoranda of understanding (with Siraj Capital Ltd and PMDC, Savola Group Co., and Malaz Group) as well as two key consultancy contracts (with HOK Canada, and IBI Group of Toronto) during Dubai’s Cityscape.

“Given Al-Madinah’s position as the cradle of Islamic creed and civilization, launching the Knowledge Economic City in Al-Madinah is a renaissance of sorts. We are very excited to be marking Cityscape with the signing of new partnerships with some of the world’s best brands and contractors, all focused on this unique project,” said Dr. Sami Baroum, CEO of Seera City Company.

The signing with Siraj Capital Ltd. and PMDC (Project Management and Development Company) signaled KEC’s first Cityscape MOU. The SR375M ($100M) MOU aims to develop the project’s hospitality sector, including the construction of hotels, residential apartments and an exhibition/convention center. Total built-up area at KEC is planned to reach 9 million square meters, inclusive of 30,000 residential units that will cater to an estimated population of 150,000 people.

“We are proud to work on a project that promises to be one of the largest in the hospitality sector in the Islamic world and a celebration of our history and culture. Driven by increasing Umrah and Hajj visitors, religious tourism figures are expected to grow 240% from their current level to 34 million visitors per year by 2025,” commented Dr. Ghassan Al-Sulaiman, Chairman, Siraj Capital Ltd.

“The declaration of Al-Madinah airport as an international hub by King Abdullah and its planned expansion to accommodate the increasing number of visitors ushers a new era for tourism in Al-Madinah. KEC enjoys a strategic, central location between the airport and the Prophet’s Mosque,” commented Saleh bin Laden, CEO of PMDC.

With Seera Land Theme Park, the Grand Souqs reminiscing old Al-Madinah architecture, and the knowledge-based industrial hub, KEC is well positioned to cater to a wide array of needs emerging from an ever-increasing number of tourists to a great destination.

A SR500M ($133M) MOU was also signed between KEC and Savola Group Co. to develop Phase I of the project’s unique retail complex with a gross lettable area of more than 100,000 sq m.

“This marks a significant step for Savola, which began as an edible oil refinery back in 1979 and has grown to become one of the largest diversified groups in the MENA region and the leader in retail development in Saudi Arabia, with more than 14 shopping centers throughout the country. Today’s MOU with KEC will translate into a partnership in a high-growth industry that will be one of the main propellers of economic growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Mr. Abdulmalek Fathaldin, President of Real Estate at Savola Group Co.

Planned to recreate the old Souqs of Al-Madinah for what promises to be a one-of-a-kind shopping destination for the Muslim world, Phase I of the shopping center comprises more than 300 shops, a hypermarket, and major international anchors served by 4,000 parking spaces. This retail development comes as part of a mixed-use development complex that includes residential towers where more than 300 luxury apartments and condominiums enjoy the unobstructed view of the Holy Mosque’s minarets. Phase II of the shopping mall will triple the retail space to 300,000 sq m.

“This retail development in KEC demonstrates our bullish view on the economic outlook for Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah. It will be the Group’s second shopping center in the city. Our first, sized at 80,000 sq m, is expected to be completed by May 2007 and will establish our strong presence in this strategic city,” added Fathaldeen.

Solidifying KEC’s position as a future knowledge-based industrial hub, KEC signed a SR100M ($27M) MOU with Malaz Group to set up an ICT fund. The exercise lays the ground work for an Investment capital for KBI-related activities, such as software development, communications, and small business incubators.

“As a company specializing in setting up venture capital funds, Malaz Group is particularly excited to be setting up a fund financing the development and support of KBI companies within the Knowledge Economic City’s technology mandate,” said Mr. Ahmad Al Sari, Managing Director, Executive Partner, and CEO of Malaz.

In addition to the three MOUs with Siraj Capital and PMDC, Savola Group, and Malaz Group, KEC announced during Cityscape that HOK Canada, the world renowned architecture and planning firm will be in charge of conducting studies and technical revision of the city’s conceptual master plan in order to generate a detailed master plan, with design guidelines and related material. HOK Canada has extensive expertise in the planning of mega developments in the Middle East, such as the Dubai Marina, DIFC, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Festival City, and in Riyadh the King Saud University and the King Khaled International Airport.

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Tuesday, December 5- 2006 @ 13:03 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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