Saudi Arabia will miss its goals for infrastructure and affordable housing unless the kingdom streamlines rules that are delaying projects, according to the head of Dubai developer Emaar’s Middle East unit.
“Infrastructure and real-estate projects in Saudi Arabia are typically very slow due to regulations that are very time- consuming,” Emaar Middle East chairman Ahmed Al Kulli said at a property conference in Jeddah.
Saudi King Abdullah has pledged to spend more than $82bn on housing development to help meet the needs of a growing population. The government is building four new metropolitan areas as part of a $400bn plan to invest in infrastructure and make the country less dependent on oil.
Al Kulli estimated that Jeddah’s population alone will grow about 10 percent from the current 3.7 million over the next four to five years, underscoring the need to speed up development.
Emaar Middle East’s Jeddah Gate project will include more than 100,000 sq m of office space and 30,000 sq m of shops in the city center, according to the company’s website.
Its Al Khobar Lakes development will have more than 2,000 homes as well as shopping and leisure facilities. The projects have a combined value of SR7.4bn ($770m)
The chairman compared Jeddah Gate with the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower built by Emaar in Dubai.
“The two projects both began in May 2005,” he said. “Burj Khalifa was opened, while Jeddah Gate is still under construction.”
Al Kulli called for more dialogue between government officials and real estate developers aimed at solving bureaucratic delays. He also said that pricing is key.
“If we do not build affordable housing, we will only be left with empty units,” he said.