Each of the cities is to be paid for by the private sector – albeit with the state providing cheap land and energy as inducements.
Riyadh is prioritising development at King Abdullah Economic City to prove the viability of the new city model – a move that it hopes will encourage and strengthen investor interest in the other cities.
Even so, a host of agreements have already been signed with private partners for the cities in Jizan, Medina and Hail, demonstrating that even without aggressive promotions, the potential of the cities is speaking for itself.
Despite this, Saudi Arabia has been criticised for making slow progress on some of these schemes. But it is right to proceed with caution.
In contrast to some of its more brash Gulf neighbours, Riyadh instinctively prefers to put in place its road, power and water infrastructure before pushing ahead with industrial and commercial developments.
It prefers demand to be proven and not speculative.
Google map: Saudi Arabia’s Economic Cities
Special Report: Saudi Arabia – Riyadh’s new economic cities – Index of all stories
Developing the city model: Economic cities
Riyadh is building six more mega cities, but it is taking a very different approach
Attracting the private sector: Investment
The kingdom is relying on the private sector to fund the development of its new economic cities
King Abdullah Economic City: Time to deliver on promises
The project faces the key challenges of delivering growth and creating jobs
Medina Knowledge City: Where technology meets faith
The holy city is set to become a centre for information technology as well as religious scholarship
Prince Abdulaziz bin Mosaed Economic City: A spur to development
Little progress has been made at Hail but that could change following a recent agreement
Jizan Economic City: Building industry from scratch
Riyadh faces a massive challenge creating a city in one of the most deprived and underdeveloped areas in the country
Sudair: The $40bn mega city
The planned industrial mega city will dwarf all the other schemes in the kingdom
Commentary: Riyadh must ease investment risks
Investors would be reassured if Riyadh reduces the risks by offering subsidies and guarantees of demand