Vision 2030 unleashes $1 trillion of new city and mega construction projects

25 January 2022 3 min. read

Almost $1 trillion worth of development projects have commenced or been announced since the unveiling of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 agenda, and that’s just a third of the planned investment.

Saudi Arabia’s bold Vision 2030 transformation agenda has so far unleashed almost $1 trillion worth of infrastructure and real estate projects across the country, according to Knight Frank. The global property consultancy also notes that the $1 trillion figure, headlined by a $575 billion investment to develop the Red Sea Coast into a global tourism and business hub, equates to only around one third of the planned spend.

“The number and value of mega projects around the country – all of which are colossal – are set to transform the country’s real estate landscape, standard of living, lifestyle offering and perhaps most importantly, showcase the Kingdom’s vision for an ultra-modern future to a global audience,” said Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at Knight Frank. “The ambition that underpins Vision 2030 is being borne out in reality.”

New cities planned in Saudi Arabia

According to Knight Frank's analysis, the string of new cities being constructed along Saudi Arabia’s western seaboard will see the addition of 1.3 million new homes, over 100,000 hotel rooms, and more than 3 million square metres of world-class office space.

The jewel in the crown of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 diversification program is undoubtedly NEOM, which will cost an estimated $500 billion to construct alone.

Aiming to be the world’s most technologically advanced city, with leaked consulting documents outlining fleets of flying taxis, cloud seeding, and an artificial moon among other futuristic concepts, the 26,500 square kilometre NEOM development is expecting to welcome its first residents in 2024, with more than 1 million to follow. The net-zero megacity will also cater to visitors with up to 80,000 hotel rooms slated.

To deal with the planned influx of tourists and business travellers, the Kingdom is also spending big bucks on major supporting infrastructure, including a new airport in Riyadh at a cost of almost $150 billion and a vast new passenger rail network. The Knight Frank analysis points to almost $300 billion worth of infrastructure projects, with the Makkah public transport system and Riyadh and Jeddah metros accounting for over $140 billion of the outlay.

New cities planned in Saudi Arabia

“The scale of infrastructure improvements in the country is phenomenal. The aggressive targets laid out by the government around attracting 100 million annual visitors to the country by 2030 means both adequate and first-class gateways need to be created,” Durrani comments. “We’re already seeing the first of these trickling through. And these developments are not vanity projects; they are going to have a significant impact on economic growth.”

But Durrani also added a note of caution. “Delivering these monumental projects at such speed is incredible, but clearly comes with its own challenges and opportunities.”