At 70 sq miles KAEC will eventually be a metropolis slightly larger than Washington DC and at a cost of $100bn (£67bn), mostly from private funding, the King Abdullah Economic City is second to none in the grandeur of its vision.
“We aim to create one of the world’s largest ports,” says Rayan Bukhari, a young manager at the King Abdullah port.
“We’re not competing with Jeddah’s Islamic port – but we are going to take business away from Jebel Ali in Dubai. That’s because of our quicker, more automated offloading and customs procedure.”
According to Mr Bukhari, King Abdullah was determined to involve the private sector in the economic development of the country; casting aside tribal and regional rivalries in the interests of creating a modern business economy.
“Freight arriving at the port will be taken directly to the capital via the new land bridge,” he explains, “At the moment lots of products destined for Riyadh are shipped to Dubai, but that will change. They’ll be shipped here as it is cheaper – and can be delivered more quickly within the Kingdom.”
Speed is integral to KAEC’s vision for future. With Mecca and Medina on the high speed train network that links KAEC with the two holy cities, well-heeled Umrah (pilgrimage to Mecca) pilgrims are expected to visit the city as they travel from the place where the Prophet was born to the place where he is buried. ….