As Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) prepares to tender four more packages for its proposed $6bn phosphates city at Waad al-Shamal, its reputation as a company that fast-tracks world-scale projects grows stronger.
Maaden hopes the city in the north of the kingdom will emulate the success of Ras al-Khair in the Eastern Province. This is where Maaden’s aluminium and fertiliser operations are based and which is now considered the kingdom’s third most successful industrial city behind Jubail and Yanbu.
The technical packages at Waad al-Shamal suggest the city will become a hub for production for food-grade phosphates and that the land adjacent to the Maaden-controlled production facilities will spawn a host of conversion industries.
Drawing conversion industries and local Saudi workers to Waad al-Shamal may prove to be a difficult task. There is a likelihood that some of the employment opportunities may be deemed ‘low-status’, which is going to make attracting locals even more difficult.
Finding Saudi workers for the production plants Maaden is planning will be easier as there will be several technical positions available, as well as the added status for many locals that working for Maaden will bring.
Utilising its natural resources is something Riyadh regards as a vital step for creating wealth and employment opportunities. However, the fact remains Saudi Arabia is a vast country and persuading nationals to move away from their homes to work in remote areas will be a major challenge.