The Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is developing mega industrial cities with world-scale industrial ventures including the world’s largest chemical complex built in a single phase and the largest smelter.
Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province – home to the oil giant Saudi Aramco – enjoys a lion’s share of the kingdom’s industrial investment and is forging ahead with the creation of industrial cities heavily backed by state institutions and supported by private sector participation.
The province has seen the creation of Jubail Industrial City, an ambitious industrial city spearheaded by the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu (RCJ&Y), which is now developing Ras Al Khair Industrial City.
Among the most ambitious developments taking shape in Jubail is the Sadara Chemical Company (Sadara), the world’s largest chemical complex ever built in a single phase, while Ras Al Khair is building the world’s largest aluminium smelter – and Saudi Arabia’s first. The smelter is the cornerstone of Ras Al Khair Industrial City, which is fast becoming the country’s aluminum and phosphate centre, 90 km north of Jubail.
The Sadara complex, located in Jubail Industrial City II, last month launched its first production plant, moving on schedule from the construction to the operational phase.
Sadara’s first product – linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) – was produced in the company’s polyethylene plant using proprietary technology from The Dow Chemical Company.
The plant is the first to come on stream among the 26 world-scale manufacturing plants that are being built in the complex. “We are continuing with our commissioning and start-up efforts to bring the remaining 25 units on stream safely, efficiently and effectively,” says Ziad Al Labban, chief executive officer of Sadara.
By using best-in-class technologies to crack refinery liquid feedstock, Sadara will enable many industries that either currently do not exist in Saudi Arabia or only exist through imports of raw materials.
The adjacent PlasChem Park, a unique collaboration between Sadara and the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, will create more value downstream, generating unprecedented investment, innovation, economic growth and thousands of jobs.
Official estimates put the investment into Jubail at SR560 billion ($149.2 billion), including SR501 billion ($133.6 billion) from the private sector, according to Abdulaziz Attragi, general manager of strategic planning for the Royal Commission for Jubail.
The RCJ currently manages a total of 91 construction contracts worth SR19 billion ($5 billion) in more than 200 sites, Ahmed Al Balawi, general manager of technical affairs in the RCJ, was quoted as saying in an Arab News report. He points out that future projects in Jubail and Ras Al Khair Industrial City are estimated at SR23 billion ($6.12 billion) over the next five years.
Among the numerous industrial ventures taking shape in Jubail are a reinforcement steel bar facility by Sahm Steel Company at an estimated capital of SR1.1 billion ($293.3 million); a multilayer polyethylene pipe production facility by Al Rafid Group; a fabrication plant for tanks, vessels, minerals, and metal products by Ankan Engineering Contracting Company; a pipe manufacturing and maintenance services facility by K-KEM Engineering Service Company; a pipe coating factory by Asia Steel Factory Company; and a thermal insulation panels factory by Gulf Excellent Group for Contracting and Trading (GCE Group).
Other industrial projects coming up in Jubail include an industrial machine maintenance facility by Abdullah Ahmad Al Dossary Holding Company; a project by Kanoo Terminal Services for transferring, storing, testing and cleaning of containers; a facility by Basem International Shipping and Logistics Company for transferring, storing and cleaning of ISO tanks; a plant for transferring, heat controlled storage and packaging by Almajdouie Group for Petrochemical Products; and a factory for plastic pallets and containers by Showrann Trading Company.
Apart from industrial developments, these cities are witnessing investments in the gamut of amenities and services required to sustain and support them including housing developments, roads, hotels and even entire model cities.
The city centre of Jubail, for instance, will see the construction of administrative buildings, commercial areas, exhibitions and conference centres, hotels and residential apartments, service facilities, in addition to light rail, said Al Balawi.
Among the landmark projects mooted for the Eastern Province is a new model city comprising residential, economic and tourism complexes, which is being reviewed by the Eastern Province municipality in Saudi Arabia, according to the Arab News.
The new city, which will be located in Half Moon Bay in Al Aziziyah district, will feature a marina for 650 boats, a conference and exhibition centre and a maritime museum, besides 88,000 housing units, commercial areas, offices, a techno-park and various kinds of public transport, it said.
Scheduled to be completed over a span of 30 years, the new project will be implemented in six stages and will include a technology valley, and a family ‘oasis’.
Last year, the RCJ&Y launched its housing ownership programme 2015 for the staff of Jubail Industrial City. Aimed at solving the housing shortage in Jubail, the project is expected to be among the largest housing projects undertaken by the authority.
In the healthcare sector, Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group Holding Company will invest SR1.3 billion ($346.7 million) in setting one of the largest and most modern private health projects in Jubail Industrial City and the Eastern Province. The hospital will include 300 beds and 280 specialised clinics, as well as housing for workers and all the supportive services.
Among the projects in the education sector, several contracts were awarded for establishing the Jubail University College (JUC), which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.
The RCJ has started construction work of the new headquarters of the Jubail University College at Al Mutrafiah district in Jubail Industrial City on a two-million-sq-m area, the first phase of which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
The college will accommodate up to 18,000 students and have health and recreational facilities, as well as housing for students and staff.
Meanwhile, the Royal Commission of Jubail has signed three contracts to build 1,236 housing units and two industrial projects in Ras Al Khair City worth SR1.2 billion ($320 million).
The housing compounds will be constructed for Rashed A Al Rashed & Sons Company (400 housing units), Index Saudi Investments Group (416 housing units), and Al Jazirah Development Contracting Company (420 housing units). These compounds will meet the housing needs of these companies that are operating in the city.
Furthermore, the Royal Commission has also allocated two sites to build and operate budget hotels to Abdul Mohsin Al Hokair Group for Tourism and Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al Mousa Holding Company to provide accommodation to visiting staff and other visitors of industrial companies.
Among other developments, the cities of Riyadh and Dammam will soon be connected by a high-speed electric train that will run at a speed of up to 300 km per hour compared to the current 160 km per hour, according to the Saudi Railways Organisation (see Saudi Focus).