Al-Dabbagh was speaking during the visit of King Abdullah to the city on 11 June. The king took part in a foundation stone-laying ceremony at the city, 150 kilometres north-west of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast.

The projects at the city include a port, the first phase of which will be complete in 2010, an aluminium smelter, a lubricant oil facility planned by France’s Total, and a national academic college. Al-Dabbagh added that the smelter will create 2,500 direct jobs and 7,500 indirect jobs.

Investment in the hospitality sector alone has reached in excess of SR90bn, according to Fahd al-Rasheed, chief executive officer of Emaar the Economic City, which is developing the city.

He said that firms interesting in the city’s development included the Ritz Carlton and Holiday Inn Express hotel chains.

He added that the Bay Le Sun Village Hotel and Mall development was expected to attract SR1bn in investment.

Aside from the hospitality sector, a number of developments have already been launched, including healthcare and media zones.

In May, the local Mubark al-Gethmi was awarded a SR200m contract for the construction of the concrete skeleton for four residential towers located in Bay Le Sun Village (MEED 11:5:08).