Al Widyan is Saudi Arabia’s Next PIF-Backed ‘City Within a City’ Planned for Riyadh

A new Public Investment Fund (PIF)-backed “city within a city” is being planned for North Riyadh, according to a report in the English-language daily Arab News.

The development – called Al Widyan – will include residential, commercial, retail and leisure facilities on a 7 million square meter site to the north of the capital, and will take seven years to complete. Initial work has already begun.

Al Akaria Saudi Real Estate Company (SRECO), a Tadawul-listed developer 65 per cent owned by PIF, announced the development, with a price tag of SR10 billion ($2.66 billion) for the first phase, according to Arab News.

Abdulrahman Almofadhi, chairman of the Board of Directors of SRECO.

Abdulrahman Almofadhi, chairman of the Board of Directors of SRECO.

“The project will be the first in the Kingdom outside an economic development zone to be granted the status of ‘self regulatory office,’ an initiative aimed at simplifying and speeding planning approvals and reducing building bureaucracy,” according to the report. The goal is to make the new development “a self-sustaining community…with a strong emphasis on health care, wellness, education and lifestyle,” according to SRECO’s CEO, Abdulrahman Almofadhi.

“It will be a city on its own, with an eye on the lifestyle of its inhabitants. We have designed into it huge swathes of land as open areas, including 200,000 trees and a 600,000 square meter ‘central park,” Almofadhi said. “It will be the first of its kind, designed by American and British partners, according to international standards, and also designed to be a catalyst for future development. It is also manifesting a lot of the principles of the Vision 2030 strategy, and we are playing our part in diligently working towards that. It is important the quality of life of citizens is improved,” he added.

Arab News reports the initial phase of the project will be part funded by a SR1.5 billion loan from PIF, and Almofadhi said the final cost will be decided by the market. But he held out the prospect that Al Widyan, currently a subsidiary of SRECO, might eventually be floated on the Saudi Stock exchange.

“We are now working towards establishing a fund through which investors can join with us. Al Widyan is going to be a big company down the road and we are open to welcoming public and private investors,” he said.

Further details of the project, including impressions of exactly how it will look, will be revealed in October.

[Click here to read the report in Arab News]