King Abdullah Economic City

Coordinates: 22°24′N 39°05′E / 22.400°N 39.083°E / 22.400; 39.083
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King Abdullah Economic City
مدينة الملك عبد الله الاقتصادية
Waterfront in 2016
Waterfront in 2016
Official logo of King Abdullah Economic City
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; 39.083
CountrySaudi Arabia
RegionMakkah (Mecca)
 • Total173 km2 (67 sq mi)
 • Total7,000
Time zoneUTC+3 (AST)
 • Summer (DST)AST
Postal Code
King Abdullah Economic City 23965 – 7461 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Area code+966-12

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

It was one of six megaprojects that were announced in 2005 and is the only one that was launched. By 2018, The Financial Times wrote that the city had not attracted investment or become a hub for logistics and manufacturing, contrary to the grand plans behind the project.[2] By 2018, the city had a population of 7,000.[2]


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 was completed in 2010 and the whole city was 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 also aspires to help create up to one million jobs.[3][4] Upon completion, KAEC is intended to have a population of 2 million.[5][2] By 2018, it only had a population of 7,000.[2] The Financial Times wrote that the city served as a warning for grand megaprojects in the region, as the project fell well short of the initial grand proposals behind the project.[2]

It is being built along with 4 other new cities in Saudi Arabia to control sprawl and congestion in existing cities.[6]

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.[7][8][9]


KAUST under construction

On June 12, 2008, King Abdullah visited the city and evaluated the progress. Some of the proposed projects in the city included:[10]

  • 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.

Emaar, E.C. and SAGIA have signed several memorandums of understanding 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.[11]
  • Ericsson, to supply, build, integrate operate and manage multiplay end-to-end fixed broadband network.[12]
  • Cisco Systems, to design infrastructure for IT networks in the city.[13]
  • GEMS World Academy, to design, build, and operate the first school in the city which will be opened by September 2009.[14]
  • StrateSphere Enterprises and PolymerOhio, to develop KAEC Plastics Valley.[15]
  • CEMCCO, to develop infrastructure for the Industrial Zone.[16]
  • 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).[17]
  • Mars GCC, to establish its own manufacturing facility in the Industrial Zone.[18]
  • Capri Capital Partners, to develop a mixed-use project with a total worth of $2 billion (SR 7.5 billion).[19]
  • Freyssinet Saudi Arabia, to develop the Business Park at Bay La Sun Village.[20]
  • Saudi Binladin Group, to construct 16 residential towers within Bay La Sun Village. The towers are scheduled for completion in September 2009.[21]
  • 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.[22]
A house in Esmeralda

Emaar, E.C has also launched two residential areas, Bay La Sun Village,[23] and Esmeralda Suburb.[24]


KAEC will be served by Al-Haramain High Speed line.[6] The construction of the station has been completed by 2018. On 25 September 2018, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud inaugurated the project.[25]

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. ^ a b c d e "Saudi Arabia's sleepy city offers prince a cautionary tale". Financial Times. 2018-05-27. Archived from the original on 2022-12-11. Retrieved 2022-07-26.
  3. ^ Thorold, Crispin (June 11, 2008). "BBC - New cities rise from Saudi desert". BBC News. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  4. ^ Mouawad, Jad (January 20, 2008). "New York Times - The Construction Site Called Saudi Arabia". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  5. ^ Smith, Sylvia (20 March 2015). "Saudi Arabia's new desert megacity". BBC News. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  6. ^ a b "A New City in the Saudi Desert". Time. October 2, 2008.
  7. ^ Saudi Arabia plans a $100 billion mega-city to help end its oil dependence
  8. ^ $100 billion 'city from scratch' taking shape in Saudi Arabia
  9. ^ China’s Belt and Road Initiative beacons new trade in MENAT
  10. ^ "Arabian Business - King Abdullah visits KAEC; evaluates progress achieved".
  11. ^ "Orange Business Services wins real estate telecoms consultancy contract with Emaar's KAEC - Orange Business Services".
  12. ^ "Ericsson - Ericsson in exclusive broadband deal for flagship Saudi tech city".
  13. ^ "Cisco Systems - Cisco to Design Infrastructure Network for KAEC".
  14. ^ "GEMS Education - GEMS World Academy, KAEC, Saudi Arabia". Archived from the original on 2008-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
  15. ^ "Arab News - Emaar signs MoU for KAEC Plastics Valley".
  16. ^ "Arabian Business - Emaar, E.C. awards SR 115 million contract to CEMCCO".
  17. ^ "Arabian Business - Emaar, E.C. and DP World sign MoU to KAEC Sea Port".
  18. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, E.C. signs MoU with Mars GCC to establish manufacturing facility".
  19. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, E.C. joins hands with Capri Capital to develop a mixed-use project in KAEC".
  20. ^ "Emaar Properties - Emaar.E.C awards a contract to Freyssinet Saudi Arabia for second phase of Business Park in KAEC". Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  21. ^ "AME Info - Emaar.E.C awards SR1.4bn contract to Saudi Bin Ladin Group to construct 16 residential towers in KAEC".
  22. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, The Economic City awards electrical transmission and distribution contract for KAEC to Siemens".
  23. ^ "Emaar - Emaar, E.C. unveils Bay La Sun Village at KAEC". Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
  24. ^ "AME Info - Emaar, E.C. launches Esmeralda Suburb".
  25. ^ "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).