Saudi housing projects forge ahead

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Saudi Arabia is currently one of the world’s major hotspots when it comes to the construction of residential properties.

In the next five years it is anticipated that up to a million new units will be built to accommodate the needs of a growing and young population – more than half under the age of 25.

One project currently underway is set to see the city of Al Khobar transformed by a new development from architects Dewan which will see more than a thousand luxury apartments created.

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The site chosen is along King Saud Road, close to the Corniche, which became a prominent local landmark following the expansion of what was once a small fishing village into a large port in the 1930s as oil exports increased.

Dewan say the plans will establish Al Khobar as a “prosperous global city”.

The design is based on a grid system which in turn takes its cue from the surrounding streets. A large landscaped plaza sited between the residential towers is also a feature of the design.

The project occupies a 40,000m2 site and includes integration of four towers acting as residential and offices blocks along with a 22,600m2 mall at the base of a four-star hotel.

The entire development is situated on top of a two storey podium and basement.

The 22-storey residential block towers contain 1,400 apartments as well as 15 penthouses. The 88m hotel has 252 rooms and 52 serviced apartments and will be a luxury destination.

A 12-storey office tower and a retail podium complete the Al Khobar Mixed Use Development.

Ammar Al Assam is Dewan’s executive director. He said:  “We are extremely proud of being the lead designers of this large mixed-use project in Saudi which will be one of the key destinations when it is completed.

“Given the various uses, and project density, the design has been prudently planned to ensure a sensitive balance between aesthetics, functionality, and sustainability.”

Another major project, currently under construction, is set just outside the city and will see a large gated community created called Khobar Lakes sprawling across 2.6 mm2 of land.

This is intended to consist of nine self-contained communities with – in total – 2,000 villas, walkways, green areas, retail and recreational facilities.

“It gives the right environment that most people are looking for, with a lot of parks lakes and walkways along the way,” said Eng Al Kulli, general manager of its developer Emaar Middle East.

“Also it’s a gated community, which is something totally new for the Saudi market for something of this size.”

Emaar is also involved in the development of the Makkah Clock Towers residences which are close to the Grand Mosque and the Jeddah Gate project which has a number of high-rise towers in its overall design.

Emile Habib has studied the housing construction boom in KSA on behalf of asset management company Gulf Related.

He says a number of trends are behind the increased demand for housing: “The Saudi population is young, 65% are under 25. Therefore the demand for new homes is enormous as people move away from their parents and start their own families.

“This national housing requirement also sees certain trends that are emerging among the Saudis, especially the younger ones.

“Many have travelled to other countries and realised the benefits of having facilities close rather than living in a more isolated building.

“Vertical communities are also becoming more popular – five or 10 years ago this would have certainly not been the case.

“But some taboos – such as that of men and women living in close proximity to one another – are gradually loosening.”

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