6 Key Development Projects in Saudi Arabia

At the beginning of the millennium, Saudi Arabia’s economy saw a surge in profits and prosperity due to the rising prices of oil and increased demand for the resource across the globe. Drawing on Saudi Arabia’s ample natural supply, the oil boom from 2003 to 2013 launched the Kingdom into the most prosperous state it had seen in years, making it the 19th-largest economy in the world.

During this period, the GDP doubled led to increased job opportunities. With government investment in education, infrastructure and healthcare, the country saw an increase of 1.7 million new jobs and the average household income rose by 75 percent.

While the 2014–2015 oil price collapse means Saudi Arabia can no longer rely on the resource for revenue or economic growth, the Kingdom remains strong in its position and potential for growth through business opportunities. Focusing on an economic transformation based on productivity and diversification, the country is dedicated to building a vibrant society and thriving economy through global industry ventures — in fact, many of the nation’s Vision 2030 goals are already underway.

Now is the time to develop business relations in Saudi Arabia and become part of the Kingdom’s developing global market — but to win in your ventures, you need to know where to play. Searching for key regions for doing business in Saudi Arabia? From currently growing cities to development projects predicted to grow rapidly with the nation’s 2020 economic city development plans, here are the key development projects in Saudi Arabia.

1. Riyadh

As the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is the most populous city in the nation and is already one of the most rapidly growing cities in Saudi Arabia and the world. Located in the center of the Arabian peninsula, the city houses more than 6 million people and is expected to grow to 8 million by 2030.

Not only is Saudi Arabia’s largest city growing in terms of population, but it’s rapidly expanding in income, motorization and urbanization as well. Alongside initiatives to improve quality of living, this growth led to the construction of the $22.5 billion Riyadh Metro and continues to drive the need for integrated transport systems.

Building the city’s economy will coincide with Saudi Vision 2030’s goals to lower the rate of unemployment from 11 percent to seven percent as well as move into the world’s 15 top largest economies. As transportation and infrastructure projects progress, Riyadh continues to offer expanded business opportunities across increasingly diverse industries.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


2. Jeddah

With more than 4 million inhabitants, Jeddah is the second most populous city in Saudi Arabia and the 100th largest city in the world. Located on the coast, the city houses the largest port in the Red Sea, making it a critical hub for growth and business opportunity.

In addition to its important role in commerce and industry, millions of religious tourists pass through Jeddah en route to the epicenters of the Islamic Hajj, Mecca and Medina. As the custodians of these Islamic sites, the Saudi government has begun to critically evaluate ways to improve the experience of religious tourism while simultaneously opening up its borders for secular visitors to its rich history. As they do so, Jeddah will continue to be an important economic anchor alongside Riyadh where innovators and commercial leadership will continue to grow.

As part of the mission of Vision 2030 to reinforce and diversify the nation’s economy, the entire city of Jeddah is undergoing a facelift, with the installation of bridges and tunnels at intersections, rainwater and sewer drainage projects, the upgrading of the King Abdul Aziz International Airport and the building of the Jeddah Tower. Jeddah will certainly attract diverse businesses in the years to come.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


3. King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh

As one of Saudi Arabia’s projected economic mega-cities expected to bring rapid expansion and economic diversity to the nation, the King Abdullah Economic City is located less than 30 miles south of the ancient city of Rabigh along the coast of the Red Sea. It will cover more than 170 square kilometers when its expanded construction is complete.

Featuring resort and residential areas, financial and education zones, an industrial district and a world-class seaport, the new King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh will be worth 27 billion dollars of investment, support a population of 2 million people and create a projected 1 million jobs. As part of Vision 2030’s goal to raise the share of non-oil exports in non-oil GDP, the economy will be developed with a focus on light industry, services, port and logistics, serving as a hub for business opportunities.

King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC)


4. Jazan

Focusing on agribusiness and heavy industry, this expanding economic mega-city will be 100 million square meters when construction is finished. Located on the Red Sea coast in the Southwestern region of Saudi Arabia, Jazan will be a 27 billion dollar investment and support a population of 250,000.

With an industrial park, seaport, agriculture distribution center, business and cultural center, fisheries and a health and education area, this city will support labor- and energy-intensive industries and serve as a vital hub for business. This plan coincides with the nation’s National Transformation Program of 2020 to decrease the nation’s dependence on oil and encourage economic diversification.

Jazan Economic City, Saudi Arabia


5. Prince Abdulaziz Bin Mousaed Economic City in Hael

Another integrated economic mega-city in construction, the improved Prince Abdulaziz bin Musaid Economic City in Hael will expand the city to 156 million square meters. This 8 billion dollar city will have a population of 80,000 and create 55,000 new jobs as a spoke in the regional logistics hub connecting three continents.

This key development project will focus on agribusiness, logistics, minerals and construction to further diversify the nation’s economy and increase the country’s economic rankings as part of Vision 2030. With this focus,the new city of Hael will be a promising region for business and trade opportunities.

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Mousaed Economic City in Hael

6. Neom

Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to construct this new mega-city near the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in the northwestern corner of the nation. An investment of around 500 billion dollars, the ambitious city of Neom hopes to link to neighbors Jordan and Egypt.

The name itself — meaning “new future” — is a reference to the country’s drive to prepare itself for a post-oil economy. The new city will host an array of industries to fulfill this goal, including biotechnology, digital services, advanced manufacturing, entertainment, water and food. Automated technology will be used in public transportation, and the city will harness the power of solar and wind energy to provide power.

In addition to these economic changes, Neom will also further the goals of the nation’s 2020 program and Vision 2030 through social reform, increasing women’s participation in the workforce and role in the economy. With these goals and projects will come immense business opportunities in this key development region.

Building Site Overview for NEOM, Saudi Arabia


Venture With the Quincy Group

Conducting foreign business is complicated, and succeeding in a market like Saudi Arabia — which has so much to offer — requires an intimate understanding and navigation between government policy, business and cultural communication. When it comes to your business ventures and winning results in Saudi Arabia, let the Quincy Group advise you. With 50 years of knowledge and experience building trust and relationships in Saudi Arabia, we have the access and expertise you need to succeed. Learn more about the results we deliver to business leaders and companies by contacting us today.