King Abdullah Economic City
King Abdullah Economic City is located on the Red Sea at the coast of Saudi Arabia but it is still under construction. However, some parts have been completed and are operational. Launched in 2006 to promote economic diversity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the King Abdullah Economic City has six components which include; seaport, industrial district, educational zone, central business district, resorts and a residential area. King Abdullah Economic City is one of the biggest cities in the Middle East region (Hitchcock 154). The goal of the city is to provide one million jobs for the Kingdom’s growing youthful population and to diversify the Saudi economy away from the oil industry. Forty per cent of the youths in the country are below the age of fifteen years. King Abdullah economic city has established itself a preferred investment destination for business people from many countries around the world. The strategic location of the city gives it an added advantage when compared with other cities around. “The city is positioned between the holy cities of Makah and Madinah and Jeddah which is a commercial nerve centre” (King Abdullah Economic City 12). This paper critically analyzes the developments in King Abdullah Economic City and King Abdullah financial City.
The city is revamping the investment potential offered by the Middle East region to business across various economic sectors. The city is a high tech centre that will play a crucial role in transforming the country into a global force in the knowledge based industry (Lippmann n.p). The aim of the city is to make the Kingdom one of the ten top most competitive economies in the whole world by boosting the economic growth of the region through foreign exchange, for instance the tourists who will be lodged in the resorts will bring foreign exchange. The founding objective of the city, one of pioneering cities in the country, complements Vision of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the apex body managing inward investments.
King Abdullah economic city is committed to have a world class information and communication technology infrastructure which will drive the projects objective of being the first smart city in the region. The infrastructure and tools of information n technology that are being installed in the country will make it to be a techno city. King Abdullah Economic City residential sector is planned to contain 250,000 apartments and 25,000 villas, it will also include one hundred and twenty hotels with more than two fifty thousand rooms (King Abdullah Economic City 3). The adjoining retail section will cover a total area of 8.7 million square meters and contain more than 50,000 shops which will be able to cater for the needs of both the residents and the visitors. The infrastructure of the city will integrate components such as utilities, security healthcare and other aspects that are vital to both the residents and the visitors of the city. The infrastructure of the city will ensure that all residents who will tour the areas access services like social amenities. The smart city capabilities offer significant value addition for international investors, as it offers them real-time support systems that integrate virtually all aspects of business and living. “The city is illustrative of mega-projects on the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf which is designed for a post-oil era and fits into broader global trends” (Moser, Marian and Mohammed 1). The social amenities and other things that have been planned to be included in the construction of the city will make it a major tourist attraction. The city is at early stages of development and the project has changed as the demands and realities of building a city from the ground up are realized (Russell 10).
The King Abdullah economic city seaport
The city seaport was the first major part of the city to commence construction and is already operational; goods are already being handled in the port. When completed, it is expected to be the region’s largest port and will have a total container capacity of more than 10 million 20-foot equivalent units. The first phase of the port is set to open in the third quarter of this year. The Company that is mandated with the development of the seaport aims to position King Abdullah Port, as a unique example of world-class excellence for providing valuable benefits for long-term users. The port has been made to handle cargo and will be set to receive the world’s largest vessels that will bring goods to the county and take exports out of the Kingdom. They aim to achieve this by providing the requirements for the construction of major vital projects, meeting the requirements of comprehensive development renaissance that the Kingdom is currently witnessing. The seaport port is characterized by its strategic geographical location, with integrated services through the practice of the most advanced technologies and the use of local and international experts to provide the best services to both the residents and visitors.
The port has set a well-established business plan and has become one of the most important ports in the whole world because of its unique characteristics. The traffic in the region has increased by at least fifteen percent annually in the past few years because beehive activities that take place in the city. The main feature of the port is that it is embedded within the industrial zone, which will provide efficiencies in manufacturing and warehousing. The Seaport is expected to be completed by the end of 2030 and this will be done in four phases, the first phase has been completed and thus some parts of the port have become operational. Another feature of the port is the Hajj Terminal with a capacity to accommodate up to three hundred thousand pilgrims who will be using the route to Mecca city.
The industrial district has so far been able to attract investment by the local and the foreign companies, from wide source of industries like manufacturing, Logistics, Industrial among many others. Phase one planning is complete and construction is underway, with another large area earmarked for development. The major attraction of the industrial district is its connection to the King Abdullah sea port and rail project which will make the Industrial valley land one of the most sought out property for future industrial development.
The residential real estate area will cater to population from the whole world that will reside in and visit the city. Currently a total of five thousand housing units are under development. Emaar is looking to built housing units in the form of villas or apartments that will be able to accommodate a large number of people. The residents of the city will be provided with social amenities like healthcare, education and leisure at an affordable cost. Along with government schools, GEMS international academy already has a school running in the city. The area will be a home for half a million residents, and will be able to lodge an additional ten thousand tourists who will be touring the city. According to the plan, the residential area will include 260,000 apartments and 56,000 villas which will be enclosed by parks. The Harmain rail project is will connect the cities of Makkah, Madina, the city and Jeddah and thus making transport within the cities to be easier. The project is land mark project, which shows the government’s commitment to sustained economic growth. The project will help King Abdullah economic city in connecting to other regions of the Kingdom. Currently, the plans of linking the city with Jeddah will not only help in transporting cargo to these cities but will also help the pilgrims who will be using the route.
The Educational Zone will be made up of a multi university campus, including two Research and Development parks which is projected to have the capacity to accommodate eighteen thousand students and seven thousand five hundred professors and staff members. Furthermore, a number of world class international primary and secondary schools will be available to the local and foreign community. Education is a crucial aspect of any region which wants to achieve economic development because technological idea can only be shared through education. The education zone will make it easy for the residents and visitors of the city to have access to affordable education which will be of high quality. The Zone is a plan to bring the Saudis capabilities in technology to globally competitive levels thus making them able to compete with people from developed countries.
The resort area
This is another key part of the King Abdullah economic city because it will help in accommodating visitors who will be mainly tourists. The Resorts Area is seen as a major future tourist destination, not only in Saudi Arabia, but in the entire Middle East. The resort area will be made up of one twenty hotels, with an estimated twenty five thousands rooms. The rooms will be used by visitors and tourists who will bring foreign exchange to the country. An equestrian club, yacht club and a range of water sports will also be constructed so as to ensure that both the residents and visitors enjoy sporting facilities. The hotels that are found in the region will provide all the services for tourists and other visitors when the resort becomes fully operational.
The central business district
The Central Business District will consist of office and commercial space covering which will be vital for many economic activities. A Financial Island will be built covering fourteen hectares of land which is planned to become the largest financial center in the region attracting the world’s leading banks, investment companies and insurance groups will be build within the central business district. A beehive of activities is evident within the business district which has thousands of business that generate income to many residents of the Kingdom. The central business district is essential because it will help both the residents of the town and other visitors to easily access financial services, for instance, banking.
King Abdullah financial City
The King Abdullah Financial city is a major development that houses the Saudi Stock Exchange, the Capital Market Authority and the Commodity Market among other major projects. Launched in 2007 by King the city will serve as headquarters for the Capital Market Authority, the Saudi stock exchange, the commodities market and a large community of financial professionals (Ulrichsen 67). “The government of Saudi Arabia has positioned Riyadh as a regional capital with the implementation of the King Abdullah Financial city” (Oxford 16). The district comprises of thirty four towers within an area of 1.6 million square meters and will have the capacity to accommodate twelve thousand residents. The city is set to become the leading financial centre in the country and the larger Middle East area in the coming years because of its strategic location. The city provides an attractive working environment for the growing workforce in the financial sector and other sectors that related to the financial sector. The city offers a wide mix of offices, residential, educational, sports and cultural facilities in different types and densities to appeal to different people in the whole world. Henning Larsen Architects are acting as consultants so as to ensure that the proposed scheme achieves a standard that will be seen as a world-class example of sustainable development. The city will become one of the largest green development projects in the whole world and first LEED certified district in the region.
The vision of the city is based on the site and the Arabian landscape whereby the shape of a leaf is forming a whole with the adjoining areas which will have green recreational promenade, the Wadi and the five landmarks in the centre, the District will stand out against the Riyadh skyline as an icon for the pulsating heart of a growing financial world. The city will become the leading financial centre in the Kingdom and the larger Middle East because it will create a variety of recreational activities for the people living in Riyadh and a powerful financial centre for Saudi Arabia and the region. The District will reduce the dependence of the country’s oil reserves and will make it to rely on solar technology because it has chosen sustainable architecture with the aim of achieving one of the most significant eco certifications in the whole world. The King Abdullah Financial city is a state-of-the-art and fully self contained centre for doing business and facilitating investment in the region (Buchan 155). Big institutions, for instance, banks and professional service companies in the world are operating in Saudi Arabia and have shown their intention to locate in the District. The government of Kingdom has invested a substantial amount of money and resources to ensure the successfully completion of the city.
The Metro Station of the city applies a discrete subset of elements which are correlated through repetition, symmetry and scaling; optimizing the design while simplify technical challenges without compromising spatial quality or design ambition. Muqarnas Tower which is found in the city is comprised of 750,000 of office space over thirty floors with below grade parking and two retail pavilions that accommodates thousands of businesses and uses a traditional architectural motif of the region so as to create a façade with multiple corner offices and a surface that shades it. The northern facade fronting the Wadi facets in both small-scale and large-scale gestures to diagonalizable and extend views from the interior spaces. Mini atrium spaces are scattered throughout to provide unique architectural spaces for the offices and their inhabitants. The entire north façade is free of core and service elements, opening it up for office tenant spaces to take advantage of the views of activity in the Wadi. The southern façade, which faces the financial city, has a distinctly different character of glass and metal panels that give the plaza a shimmering façade, masking the core elements that are located at the south of the tower.
The city is home to Saudi Arabia’s financial sector including the Stock Exchange, banks, accountants and lawyers. The development is to create the leading financial centre in the Middle East; high levels of performance and comfort are a key requirement for the new system, due to the sophistication of the end users. It will be air-conditioned with onboard security cameras monitored by the control centre during operation to ensure that both the residents and visitors are secure. The safety of both the residents of the city and those who will be touring it is a crucial thing that has been put into consideration by the designers of the city.
There will be six elevated stations which will be fully integrated within key attractor buildings; these are cultural venues, aimed to draw people into the district. The goal for the city is to become a vibrant mixed use community encompassing business and entertainment activities so as to accommodate people from all walks of life. All buildings in the city are air-conditioned, and are linked by air-conditioned footbridges above street level, so that people can move in the city from one place to another. For safety reasons, and in compliance with the latest safety rules, an aesthetically designed emergency walkway is anchored to the bottom of the beams all along the guide way of the city. The financial city will be able to take care of all the financial need of not only Saudi Arabia but also other countries in the Middle East and gulf region.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is updating and modernizing its academic curricula to make it a world class curriculum like that of other developed countries. The two cities are projects that are being undertaken by the king so as to spur economic development in the Kingdom and the larger Middle East region. The two projects are almost complete with some parts of the cities becoming operation, for instance, the residential part of the economic city where people have already movement in. The low prices of oil that have characterized the world market in the last few months have not affected the development of the cities. King Abdullah economic city consists of an integrated seaport, industrial centre and financial centre and is expected to hold two million people by the year 2020. The two projects will from an economic pillar of the Kingdom in the coming years because they will spur development in many sectors, for instance, the financial sector. The financial city is set to be complete and become fully operational towards the end of this year whereas the economic city is set to be complete by the year 2020.
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