To be called King Abdullah Economic City, the proposed development will be built over a 55 million-square-metre site, with a 35-kilometre beachfront. The scheme will be carried out in various stages and will have six major elements. They are:

Millenium seaport, to be built over an area of 2.6 million square metres. The facility will be home to light industries and logistics firms and will be served by an integrated transport system. The port will have a dedicated Hajj terminal, with capacity to receive 500,000 pilgrims each season;

Industrial district, to be built over an area of 8 million square metres;

Waterside resort, which will entail the construction of 3,500 units including hotels, apartments, suites and villas, besides shopping malls and a golf course;

Financial island, which will include the construction of two 60-storey and 100-storey towers, offering a total of 500,000 square metres of office space;

Residential district, which will call for the construction of a town centre and property to be built along a corniche, a marina and yacht club with 450 boat moorings and a souk to be built on a 350,000-square-metre site; and

Education zone, comprising universities, schools and research and development centres.

A new project company, led by Emaar, and including the local Aseer Company and Saudi Binladin Group, and other unnamed local and UAE firms, has been set up to build the facilities. An initial public offering (IPO) of 30 per cent of shares in the new company is planned in early 2006.

Binladin is due to start work in late December on the earthworks and site preparation package. The formal appointment of an overall project and construction manager is due soon. Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia) is providing support for the scheme.