Cityscape Intelligence, the region’s premier real estate market analysis portal, created by Informa Markets, this week announced the winning projects for its Saudi Arabia Real Estate Awards, recognizing progress and milestones on some of the Kingdom’s most ambitious and transformative ‘Giga Projects’.
The awards, which will kick-start a quarterly campaign to acknowledge developer and architectural excellence across the MENA region, have spotlighted significant efforts of developers and government-backed organisations to align with the Saudi Vision 2030. In the drive for economic diversification, authorities are seeking to increase participation from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the economy as well as generate jobs and increase domestic consumption by developing mega-projects worth billions of dollars.
To support development, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, announced a series of ‘Giga Projects’ funded in large part by the kingdom’s own Public Investment Fund (PIF) — the 10th largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. These projects are specifically designed to promote growth in verticals such as petrochemicals, mining, tourism (including religious tourism), transportation, entertainment, healthcare and renewables.
Tenesha Naidoo, Head of Content for Cityscape, said: “It is important to recognise and celebrate developers, architects and master-planners who are driving the industry. With a shared goal of Vision 2030, multiple parties in Saudi are working together on large-scale developments that will transform the country. The Cityscape Intelligence Awards has once again highlighted the perseverance and resilience the regional real estate market has shown throughout 2020.”
Winning projects were announced across seven distinct categories including Commercial – Office, Sustainability, Residential, Leisure & Hospitality, Commercial – Retail, Tech & Innovation and a Judge’s Choice award.
“A number of our 2021 KSA Real Estate Award winners are projects integral to the delivery of KSA’s Vision 2030 strategy and are set to play a key role in the government’s plan to diversify away from the reliance of hydrocarbon, and more towards tourism,” explained Naidoo. “We made sure that our categories covered a wide range of industry verticals, with a special focus on sustainability, and tech & innovation – both areas in which some incredible projects are being conceptualized and delivered.”
Taking the award for Leisure and Hospitality, Coral Bloom, The Red Sea Project on Shurayrah Island is set for completion in 2030 and will comprise 50 resorts offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and approximately 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites.
John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company at Coral Bloom Designs, said: “From conception, it was paramount that Coral Bloom blended in with the natural environment and did not disturb the existing wildlife around Shurayrah Island. By protecting the pristine environment and making additions that actively enhance the area, Coral Bloom perfectly captures our ambition on this project. That being a barefoot luxury experience unlike anywhere else on earth, where rather than pose an ecological threat, tourism can be used as a catalyst for significant regeneration.”
“We are extremely proud that The Red Sea Project’s contributions to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals have been formally recognised by Cityscape Intelligence.”
Jeddah’s Airport City, the transport-orientated urban development that that connects a high-speed railway, airport and motorway junction, won the Commercial – Office award; NEOM’s zero-emission smart city, The Line took the Sustainability award and King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) took the Tech & Innovation award, in recognition of its impressively designed communities that span an area of 50 sq km.
Saudi Arabia is looking to become the fifth-most visited destination in the world by 2030, with the tourism sector increasing its GDP contribution to 10%, up from its current 3%.It is already home to five UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites, with an on-going series of initiatives being added to its events calendar including Saudi Seasons, which was launched in 2019 and will encompass 11 annual festivals across the nation.
The Residential award, meanwhile, was given to the residential community situated in the 500-acre King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center; the Commercial – Retail award went to the mega shopping boulevard, Parisiana in Riyadh.
The judging panel also created a special category to recognise the International School Group’s new campus in Al Khobar after it caught the judges’ attention for its ability to blend state-of-the-art design with the evolving needs of 21st century learners.
Following the announcement of the winning projects in Saudi Arabia, Cityscape Intelligence will open award shortlist nominations for Egypt in June and the UAE in September. In December, the programme will culminate in a MENA-wide real estate awards event with judges selecting the top projects from each country.