Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who served as an advisor to the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the emir of Makkah, has recently announced the further development of Al-Faisaliah airport that is planned to support the ever-increasing Hajj and Umrah activities. Through a partnership with the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the brand new Al-Faisaliah airport will be supporting the current Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport. The agreement as well as the memorandum of cooperation to allocate the state-owned land for constructing Al-Faisaliah airport was signed at an official ceremony held in Jeddah mid July 2019.
The new airport is part of the Al-Faisaliah mega project, which will cover the development on a 2,450 square kilometers area located in the west of Makkah. This project seeks to accommodate the substantial population increases of Makkah and Jeddah and also provides an adequate number of housing for these cities’ permanent residents that are pushed by the building of Hajj and Umrah infrastructures. It is estimated that 6.5 million people will inhabit the area by 2050 and 995,000 housing units will be built as part of this mega project.
The governor of Makkah, Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud, mentioned that Al-Faisaliah is considered to be a giant extension of Makkah. It will extend the geographical border of Makkah from the current Haram boundary to Al-Shuaiba which is located on the Red Coast, thus connecting the holy city to the sea. Besides the plan of building a new airport, the construction of a seaport is also drafted and expected to be under construction in the near future. Commercial, retail, and industrial areas are also planned to be built near the seaport to support the seaport’s economic activities.
The Al-Faisaliah development is expected to create new job opportunities across various sectors for up to one million of Saudi’s population, with health, education, technology, and services sectors as the main drivers. This development will help one of the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to reduce Saudi’s dependency on oil and gas sectors. It is hoped that Al-Faisaliah city will attract millions of visitors and help to boost Saudi GDP through tourism, pilgrimage, and many other industries.
In line with Saudi Vision 2030, Al-Faisaliah will be developed around renewable energy sources. Saudi Electricity Company is one of the first companies to be able to exploit solar project in Al-Faisaliah area. Saudi’s Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources is determined to follow Saudi Vision 2030’s framework of diversifying the energy sources and recently held a technical study of alternative energy sources for Al-Faisaliah. Makkah Region Development Authority also looks forward to the production of 9.5 GW from renewable energy sources in the area. The ministry openly stated that the implementation of renewable energy will be carried out in different phases, of which will cover 600 MW project targeted at private companies in a public tender this year.
Saudi’s government, hopes that Al-Faisaliah could gather several private partners that would actively contribute and participate toward the project. Meetings with a number of both local and global companies were already organized, and the government still looks for more prospective partnerships. This project has the potential to draw significant investment opportunities in the Makkah region, while also expected to increase the private sector’s GDP contribution target up to 65% by 2030.