Six groups have prequalified for the contract to rehabilitate, operate and transfer the King Fahd Medical City in Riyadh. One of the largest hospital complexes in the region, the $573 million facility contains a 500-bed general hospital, a 250-bed maternity hospital, a 250-bed paediatric unit and a psychiatric hospital. The complex also contains community centres, shopping arcades and recreational facilities. Designed by New York-based architect Rogers, Burgun, Shahine & Deschler, King Fahd Medical City was completed in 1995 but has remained empty due to lack of funding. Last year the Health Ministry recruited Ernst & Youngto act as financial adviser on the rehabilitation project, while the World Bank is advising the ministry on technical aspects of the scheme.
When the medical city is operational it will house some 3,000 employees, the majority of whom are expected to be recruited locally. There are more than 300 hospitals in the kingdom, both general and specialised, with a total capacity of some 45,800 beds. The Health Ministry manages about 70 per cent of these facilities, while the remainder are privately operated. The government has targeted healthcare as one of the sectors it would like to see opened up to further private investment. In mid January the Finance & National Economy Ministry announced plans to privatise the 520-bed King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh.