Saudi Arabia is preparing to issue tender documents in the first quarter of 2012 for a new SR4.6bn ($1.2bn) King Fahad Specialist Hospital in Dammam, in the latest sign the kingdom is pushing ahead with its $18.3bn healthcare investment programme.

The planned new King Fahad Specialist Hospital will consist of seven specialised medical centres and will cover a total area of 700,000 square metres. The hospital will have a capacity of 1,500 beds and in addition to the medical centres, the development will contain a residential complex, research centre and an international academy.

The group set up to manage the King Fahad Specialist Hospital will be supervised by the Health Ministry.

“We expect the construction package to be tendered in the first quarter of next year,’’ says a source in Riyadh. Consultants submitted bids for the project management contract on 13 September.

While contractors wait for the Dammam hospital tender, the Health Ministry has set a submission date for the main construction package on a another major hospital project in Jeddah. Contractors have until 15 October to submit bids for the contract to carry out the expansion on the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre.

It is a sign that Riyadh is serious about addressing the poor state of healthcare in the country and that huge spending plans are being translated into action. The 2011 budget sets aside $18.3bn for health and social affairs, a 12.3 per cent increase over the 2010 allocation for the healthcare sector. The medical projects are part of the kingdom’s efforts to improve its provision of healthcare services. In the World Bank’s Development Indicators report in 2007, Saudi Arabia had 2.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people, just under half of the global average of 4.3 beds.

The main component of the Jeddah hospital expansion project will involve the construction of two patient towers, 15 and 18 stories high, and a 24-storey research and academic affairs centre. The new structures will contain 30 operating theatres, 150 intensive care units, a cardiology clinic, neurology clinic, outpatient clinics and emergency treatment facilities.

The scheme will also involve the construction of a 25,000-square metre Oncology Centre and a 25,000-sq m medical support facilities building. The project will also involve the construction of car parking facilities for more than 1,000 cars.

The expansion scheme was designed by the local Care RTKL and Saudi Diyar Consultants. The project manager for the construction programme is US-based Vanir Construction Management.

The projects are part of Saudi Arabia’s plans to extend its healthcare infrastructure to cope with its rapidly rising population. The kingdom’s population has grown by more than 25 per cent over the past decade, from 21.5 million in 2002 to more than 27 million in 2010, and is set to continue growing at a rate of 2 per cent over the next five years.

MEED recently reported that the local Saudi Binladin Group and the local ABV Rock Group are frontrunners to win contracts to build two medical cities worth an estimated total of SR25bn.

The Interior Ministry received bids on 7 August for the medical city developments, which will be located in Riyadh and Jeddah.

The scope of the work will include construction and fit-out of the medical complexes, one will be located in Riyadh and one in Jeddah, which will each have a total built-up area of 1.3 million sq m. The consultant for the project is the local office of Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah.

Hospital bed demand*
Bahrain 80
Kuwait 110
Oman 100
Qatar 100
Saudi Arabia 145
UAE 160
*=By 2025. Source: McKinsey & Company

The two medical cities will have the same design and will both include three hospitals and all related medical and residential facilities. The medical facilities will have a total built-up area of about 400,000 sq m.

Each complex will also contain academic and clinical centres and a research centre.  The residential villas and apartments will have a total built-up area of about 500,000 sq m. The developments are also planned to have office buildings and service stations. The medical complexes will have about 200,000 sq m of car parking (MEED 9:9:11).

In August 2010, Riyadh approved the ninth five-year national development plan (NDP), setting out the government’s intent to spend almost $400bn on developing infrastructure up until 2014. In the plan, the government earmarked $73bn to be spent on expanding and improving the kingdom’s healthcare sector. This will include the construction of 117 new hospitals, 750 primary healthcare centres and 400 emergency centres.

Physicians (per 10,000)
Saudi Arabia 16.2
Global 23.4
Emerging Markets 18.9
Source: WHO (2007)