King Abdullah Economic City

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King Abdullah Economic City
مدينة الملك عبدالله الإقتصادية
King Abdullah Economic City is located in Saudi Arabia
King Abdullah Economic City
King Abdullah Economic City
Location in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Coordinates: 22°24′N 39°05′E / 22.400°N 39.083°E / 22.400; 39.083Coordinates: 22°24′N 39°05′E / 22.400°N 39.083°E / 22.400; 39.083
CountrySaudi Arabia
RegionMakkah (Mecca)
 • Total173 km2 (67 sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+3 (AST)
 • Summer (DST)AST
Postal Code
King Abdullah Economic City 23965 – 7461 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Area code(s)+966 800 11 800 10

King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC, /ˈkk/; Arabic: مدينة الملك عبدالله الإقتصادية‎) is a megaproject announced in 2005 by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the former king of Saudi Arabia.


With a total development area of 173 km² (66.8 sq mi), the city is located along the coast of the Red Sea, around 100 km north of Jeddah, the commercial hub of Saudi Arabia. The city is also approximately an hour and 20 minutes away from the city of Mecca, 3 hours from Medina by car and an hour away from all Middle Eastern capital cities by plane. The total cost of the city is around SR 207 billion, with the project being built by Emaar Properties. A Tadawul-listed company created from Emaar Properties, a Dubai-based public joint stock company and one of the world’s largest real estate companies, and SAGIA (Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority) which is the main facilitator of the project.[citation needed]

The city, along with another five economic cities, is a part of an ambitious "10x10" program to place Saudi Arabia among the world's top ten competitive investment destinations by the year 2010, planned by SAGIA. The first stage of the city is completed in 2010 and the whole city is planned to be fully completed by 2020. The city aims to diversify the nation's oil-based economy by bringing direct foreign and domestic investments. The city is also aspires to help create up to one million jobs.[2][3] Upon completion, KAEC is said to be larger than Washington DC.[4]

It is being built along with 4 new cities in Saudi Arabia to control sprawl and congestion in existing cities.[5]

The port of the city is part of the Maritime Silk Road that runs from the Chinese coast via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, there to the Upper Adriatic region of Trieste with its connections to Central and Eastern Europe.[6][7][8]

City components[edit]

The city is divided into six main components: Industrial Zone, Sea Port, Residential Areas, Sea Resort, Educational Zone, and a Central Business District (CBD) which includes the Financial Island.[9]

Industrial Valley[edit]

The industrial zone is estimated to cover 63 km², 4,400 hectares (11,000 acres) of land will be dedicated to industrial and light manufacturing facilities—identified as key growth drivers for the Saudi economy—and can now host 2,700 industrial tenants.[10] The jobs created estimated to be in industrial and light industries (330,000); research and development (150,000); business and office (200,000); services (115,000); hospitality (60,000) and education and community services (145,000). The "Plastics Valley"[5] planned within the zone will use raw materials readily available in Saudi Arabia to produce high-end plastics used in automotive, biomedical, construction and food packaging industries. As of April 2016, 127 companies signed contracts to build and operate factories in the city.

King Abdullah Port[edit]

King Abdullah Port is estimated to cover 17 square kilometers, it will be the largest in the region with a capacity of over TEU 20 million of containers per year. The first concession was given to National Container Terminal (NCT) and the operator is currently operating on four container berths. The port will have facilities to handle cargo and dry bulk, and will be equipped to receive the world’s largest vessels notably with its state-of-the-art Ship-to-shore cranes able to handle 25 containers across and the deepest draft in the region -18m. The port is the kingdom's first to be owned and funded by the private sector.[11] The port serves as a linking passage between three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe.[12] The port is considered an important part in the transportation network that connects between the contents and delivers goods to around 400 million people in the Middle East.[13]

In 2018, King Abdullah Port at KAEC had ranked second among the world’s fastest-growing ports.[14]

Residential areas[edit]

The residential area is planned to include 260,000 apartments and 56,000 villas. It will be divided into smaller residential, commercial, and recreational areas. Parks and green spaces will be used extensively throughout the residential area. The area is estimated to become home for around half a million residents, and another ten thousand tourists. Each district would feature its own public amenities, such as mosques, shop and recreational venues.

Sea resort[edit]

The Resorts Area will be designed to feature services and amenities, hoping to draw both local and international tourists. Set to become a major destination on the map of Saudi Arabia and the map of the Middle East as a whole. It will include hotels, shopping centers and other recreational facilities. The number of hotel rooms and suites are proposed to be 25,000 hotel rooms in more than 120 hotels. Among the tourist draws at the resort is an 18-hole golf course, with training facilities and driving range. An equestrian club, yacht club and a range of water sports may also be constructed.[10]

Educational zone[edit]

The Educational Zone is a part of plan to bring the Saudis capabilities and aspirations in technology to globally competitive levels. The Educational Zone is planned to consist of multi-university campus flanked by two Research & Development parks. The multi-university campus is designed to accommodate 18,000 students, and a 7,500 faculty and staff members.

Central business district[edit]

The central business district (CBD) is planned to offer 3.8 km² of office space, hotels and mixed-use commercial space. The Financial Island, within the CBD, has now been doubled in area to cover 14 hectares (35 ac) of land.


KAUST under construction

On June 12, 2008, King Abdullah visited the city and evaluated the progress. He also inaugurated projects and initiatives with a total worth of $35 billion (SR 130 billion).[15] These projects include:[16]

  • Science and Research Complex
  • Columbia University
  • Thunderbird University
  • Environment Protection Centre
  • Ethraa, The Smart City
  • Health Care City
  • KAEC Media City
  • The Cadre Technical City
  • EMAL International Aluminum Smelter factory
  • Total Oil factory
  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Resort

The king also inaugurated the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The university is 20 km away south of the city in the village of Thuwal. It opened in September 2009.

According to the Saudi Real Estate Companion, 2015 was a key milestone for the project given the number of residential and commercial projects that were handed over. This was largely seen as a success given that total residential sales in 2014 and 2015 amounted to around 2,500 units.[17]

Emaar, E.C. and SAGIA have signed several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and contracts with international and local developers in many fields. These developers include:

  • Orange Business Services, is trusted advisor to the project and will oversee the design of the Smart City telecoms services.[18]
  • Ericsson, to supply, build, integrate operate and manage multiplay end-to-end fixed broadband network.[19]
  • Cisco Systems, to design infrastructure for IT networks in the city.[20]
  • GEMS World Academy, to design, build, and operate the first school in the city which will be opened by September 2009.[21]
  • StrateSphere Enterprises and PolymerOhio, to develop KAEC Plastics Valley.[22]
  • CEMCCO, to develop infrastructure for the Industrial Zone.[23]
  • DP World, to develop KAEC Sea Port to be the largest in the Red Sea and one of the top 10 largest ports in the world with a capacity to handle 20 million TEU (twenty foot equivalent container units).[24]
  • Mars GCC, to establish its own manufacturing facility in the Industrial Zone.[25]
  • Capri Capital Partners, to develop a mixed-use project with a total worth of $2 billion (SR 7.5 billion).[26]
  • Freyssinet Saudi Arabia, to develop the Business Park at Bay La Sun Village.[27]
  • Saudi Binladin Group, to construct 16 residential towers within Bay La Sun Village. The towers are scheduled for completion in September 2009.[28]
  • Siemens, to undertake the electrical transmission and distribution (T&D) works for the first phase of KAEC. The work is scheduled to be completed by 2010.[29]
A house in Esmeralda

Emaar, E.C has also launched two residential areas, Bay La Sun Village,[30] and Esmeralda Suburb[31] which includes a golf community. Both of the areas received an overwhelming response from investors. Bay La Sun is in itself a fully integrated community that includes several new initiatives including:

  • Raffles International School.[32]
  • Bay La Sun Business Park.
  • Bay La Sun Hotel and Mall, which were also inaugurated by the king when he visited the city.


KAEC will be served by Al-Haramain High Speed line.[5] The construction of the station has been completed by 2018. On 25 September 2018, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud inaugurated the project.[33]

Main developers[edit]

  • Emaar Properties

In fiction[edit]

The city is the destination of Alan Clay, the protagonist in Dave Eggers's 2012 novel A Hologram for the King.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Container Mag". May 28, 2021. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  2. ^ Thorold, Crispin (June 11, 2008). "BBC - New cities rise from Saudi desert". BBC News. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  3. ^ Mouawad, Jad (January 20, 2008). "New York Times - The Construction Site Called Saudi Arabia". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  4. ^ Smith, Sylvia (20 March 2015). "Saudi Arabia's new desert megacity". BBC News. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "A New City in the Saudi Desert". Time. October 2, 2008.
  6. ^ Saudi Arabia plans a $100 billion mega-city to help end its oil dependence
  7. ^ $100 billion 'city from scratch' taking shape in Saudi Arabia
  8. ^ China’s Belt and Road Initiative beacons new trade in MENAT
  9. ^ "King Abdullah Economic City official website".
  10. ^ a b "King Abdullah Economic City: A shining example for economic development". Industry-ME. 2015-03-17. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  11. ^ "King Abdullah Port in KAEC to rival freight operation in Dubai". Saudi Gazette. Jeddah. 24 March 2015. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Port paves way for 'new era of economic affluence' in Saudi Arabia". Arab News. 2019-02-11. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  13. ^ "Port paves way for 'new era of economic affluence' in Saudi Arabia". Arab News. 2019-02-11. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  14. ^ "King Abdullah Port ranked world's 2nd-fastest-growing in 2018". Arab News. 2019-04-29. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  15. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, E.C. celebrates SR 1 billion sales from the residential units in KAEC".
  16. ^ "Arabian Business - King Abdullah visits KAEC; evaluates progress achieved".
  17. ^ Mueller, H. E.; Williams, A. D. (2016-04-04). Saudi Real Estate Companion: Essential Real Estate Skills for the Saudi Arabian Market. Booktango.
  18. ^ "Orange Business Services wins real estate telecoms consultancy contract with Emaar's KAEC - Orange Business Services".
  19. ^ "Ericsson - Ericsson in exclusive broadband deal for flagship Saudi tech city".
  20. ^ "Cisco Systems - Cisco to Design Infrastructure Network for KAEC".
  21. ^ "GEMS Education - GEMS World Academy, KAEC, Saudi Arabia".
  22. ^ "Arab News - Emaar signs MoU for KAEC Plastics Valley".
  23. ^ "Arabian Business - Emaar, E.C. awards SR 115 million contract to CEMCCO".
  24. ^ "Arabian Business - Emaar, E.C. and DP World sign MoU to KAEC Sea Port".
  25. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, E.C. signs MoU with Mars GCC to establish manufacturing facility".
  26. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, E.C. joins hands with Capri Capital to develop a mixed-use project in KAEC".
  27. ^ "Emaar Properties - Emaar.E.C awards a contract to Freyssinet Saudi Arabia for second phase of Business Park in KAEC".
  28. ^ "AME Info - Emaar.E.C awards SR1.4bn contract to Saudi Bin Ladin Group to construct 16 residential towers in KAEC".
  29. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, The Economic City awards electrical transmission and distribution contract for KAEC to Siemens".
  30. ^ "Emaar - Emaar, E.C. unveils Bay La Sun Village at KAEC".
  31. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, E.C. launches Esmeralda Suburb".
  32. ^ "Eye Of Dubai - Emaar, E.C. & Raffles International sign deal to open premier educational institute in KAEC".
  33. ^ "Saudi King To Launch High-Speed Rail Line For Mecca-Medina Today". Retrieved 2018-12-09.

External links[edit]

Alberini C. (2011), "Urbanistica e Real Estate. Il ruolo della finanza nei processi di trasformazione urbana", Milano, Franco Angeli Ed., Cap.5 - Nuove realizzazioni e fondi di investimento: KAEC new towns nel deserto fondate sul petrolio (pag. 125-132).