Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is continuing to expand its investment portfolio in Saudi Arabia’s travel, tourism, and leisure infrastructure across different regions of the country as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic and social reform plans.
The latest such development came in the form of an announcement by the PIF today that it would form two real estate development firms to boost the capacity of Mecca and Medina to receive pilgrims, in projects expected to create billions of dollars of business, Reuters reports.
The first phase of its development of an area near the Grand Mosque in Mecca would cover 854,000 square meters (9.1 million square feet) and deliver 115 buildings. It is to include 70,000 new hotel rooms and 9,000 housing units, according to Reuters.
One of those company’s names that will handle the development will be the Rou’a Al Madinah Company, Al Arabiya reports. Rou’a Al Madina Co. will handle the development of hotel, commercial and residential projects, as well as the development of cultural centers and museums to enrich Al Madinah’s religious, cultural and historical offerings, according to reports.
Last week, the (PIF) announced it will lead the redevelopment of Jeddah’s waterfront corniche, creating a “unique tourist, residential and commercial destination” that aims to become the “New Jeddah Downtown.”
Critics of the PIF investment drive say the mega-fund will crowd out private sector investors, and a key element of Vision 2030 is to boost the private sector so the country is less dependent on the government.
Meanwhile, another marquee tourism and leisure project headed by the PIF, the Red Sea Development Project, will include billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson as an investor. He made the announcement while visiting Saudi Arabia.
Branson is the first international investor to commit to the project, according to Saudi Arabia’s information ministry said, in what officials called “a clear sign that Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to international tourism,” The Guardian reports. Branson also visited the tombs at Mada’in Saleh – a Unesco world heritage site located near a string of new hotels.