The Public Pension Agency (PPA) has announced plans to invest SR 2,000 million ($530 million) in a new IT park in Riyadh. Work is already under way on the scheme’s design, with a view to opening the first phase by 2008.

The IT park is aimed at attracting multinational technology firms to the kingdom, and several have already expressed interest in the scheme, according to Hosam Shaheen, project manager at the local Zuhair Fayez Partnership, the architectural, engineering and information systems consultant on the project.

Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Samsungand LGare among those weighing participation,’ Shaheen told MEED. ‘The rationale for the plan is that companies based in smaller Gulf markets, particularly Dubai, find they are doing five or six times as much business in Saudi Arabia, making a presence in the kingdom an attractive option. Companies say: ‘If you can ease regulations, we would be glad to move.’ Saudi Arabia is 60 per cent of the Gulf market.’

The IT park, located next to King Saud University and King Abdulaziz Science & Technology City, will cover an area of more than 500,000 square metres. Design work is scheduled to be completed by mid-2006, after which tenders will be issued for the preliminary infrastructure work.