Construction work is under way on an ambitious project to redevelop the heart of Jeddah and create a global destination. The estimated SR75-billion ($20 billion) Jeddah Central Project as it is called – which expects to open its first phase in five years’ time – will include landmark destinations ranging from an oceanarium to an opera house.
Spearheading the project is the Jeddah Central Development Company (JCDC), a wholly-owned unit of Saudi wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the master developer of the mega project, which has signed a number of contracts over this year to push ahead with its development.
The Jeddah Central Project – previously known as New Jeddah Downtown – is being developed on a 5.7-million-sq-m plot of land in central Jeddah overlooking the Red Sea in a strategic area near Al Salam Palace.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), work has recently commenced on the marine facilities and infrastructure, demolition of nearly 400 old buildings and re-routing of nearly 6.5 km of power cables in the area as part of the first phase. Work also includes soil testing, and construction site preparation across a 1.5-million-sq-m area, construction of berths within the marina and 1.5 km of waterfront berths besides creating public and private beaches with modern facilities.
Being developed in three main phases, the mega project has a stunning waterfront location with a 9.5-km shoreline and will boast a world-class marina to accommodate local and international yachts in addition to 2.1 km of sandy beaches.
Launched by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, in December last year, the masterplan boasts four landmarks – an opera house, museum, sports stadium and oceanarium – which will pave the way for the private sector to participate in the development.
In addition, the city will feature 17,000 residential units and several resorts and hotel projects that will offer around 3,000 hotel rooms, and include integrated solutions for the business sector.
The project’s waterfront will include a promenade, a marina for local and international yachts, and a 2.1-km-long beach. Open spaces and public services make up 40 per cent of the project area, with designated walking areas to create a pedestrianised environment.
According to JCDC CEO Engineer Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Sulaim, the project’s modern design incorporates elements of Jeddah’s traditional architecture and adheres to all international construction standards.
JCDC flagged off the project early this year by signing an agreement with the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces Institute to acquire a prime site for Phase One. Targeted for completion by the end of 2027, this phase is expected to span a 1.5-million-sq-m area between Al Salam Royal Palace and a water desalination plant, and will include a sports stadium, beach and recreation areas.
Among the contracts signed this year were a construction deal, an agreement for the masterplan of the first phase, the design and engineering contract for the stadium and a deal for the development of state-of-the-art desalination technology for the project.
The construction contract, awarded to Modern Building Leaders (MBL), includes the implementation of infrastructure and marine works, demolition of 400 buildings and infrastructure for the first phase, and the re-routing of infrastructure services, which include electrical ground installations, sewage pipes and water supply, with a total length of 6.5 km. It also involves reclamation and offshore drilling, backfilling with the excavated material, which is estimated at 4 million cu m of earthworks, in addition to soil remediation and site preparation to start construction on the 1.5-million-sq-m site using the best engineering techniques.
The scope of work includes yacht marinas with a length of 2.5 km and floating berths within the marina, construction of waterfront berths extending along a 1.5-km stretch, and the rehabilitation of public and private sandy beaches.
JCDC has commissioned Dar to complete the detailed masterplan for the first phase of the Jeddah Central Project. Under the contract, Dar will provide the detailed masterplan covering the opera house, the stadium, the oceanarium and coral farms, and the museum. Dar will also be responsible for developing assets on both the horizontal and vertical levels and for providing design and technical consultation services in order to pave the way for construction work to commence.
Meanwhile, world-renowned firm GMP International Spain and urban development consultant Khatib and Alami have been signed up to provide the design and engineering of the project’s landmark stadium. JCDC has also appointed Cruise Saudi to design the new international luxury cruise terminal for the development.
The engineering work is being done by Khatib & Alami, a multidisciplinary urban and regional planning, architectural and engineering consulting company with five decades of experience.
The stadium’s design is unique to Jeddah and is based on international standards while reflecting the attractions of the sports, entertainment, and cultural destination. With its open spaces, green parks, world-class pitch, and a dynamic platform that brings together international events, the stadium will promote a healthier and more active lifestyle in the city’s community.
JCDC has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Waterise, a global leader in sustainable water infrastructure development, and Ajlan & Bros Holding Group, one of the leading investment holding conglomerates in the Middle East for the desalination project, which will help the master developer to achieve its sustainable development objectives.
Waterise’s desalination system combines existing reverse osmosis (RO) with leading subsea technology. This fully submerged ocean equipment will dramatically reduce the coastal land required, while also reducing each operation’s environmental footprint and emissions by significantly reducing the discharge of concentrated brine into coastal waters.