Belgium’s Six Construct has been awarded the estimated SR2bn ($533m) contract to build the 60,000-seat stadium at the King Abdullah Sports City development near Jeddah.

Six Construct, in partnership with the local Al-Muhaidib Trading & Contracting Establishment, was competing for the project against at least another five groups for the main construction package on the sports development.

The other bidders included:

  • Al-Arrab Contracting company (local)/Alpine Bau (Austria)
  • Bouygues Construction (France)
  • El-Seif Engineering Contracting (local)/Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company (South Korea)
  • Nesma & Partners Company (local)/Samsung C&T (South Korea)
  • Saudi Oger (local)

The scheme is being developed on behalf of the government by state oil major Saudi Aramco. UK-based Arup is the consultant on the scheme.

When King Abdullah Sports City was approved by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in February 2009, it was planned to cover an area of 9 square kilometres, 60km north of Jeddah alongside the Mecca-Medina highway. The original plans were for a 100,000-seat stadium and several other sporting venues and structures, including an indoor arena, grand mosque and outdoor athletics stadium, sports academy and aquatic centre among other structures.

Saudi Arabia construction awards
2006 $10.9bn
2007 $8.1bn
2008 $15.1bn
2009 $31.6bn
2010 $28.1bn
Source: Meed Projects

The project was downsized in late 2010 and it is currently only the 60,000-capacity stadium project that has been tendered. Also in 2010, Aramco tendered road building and enabling works for the project. The enabling works involves earthworks such as general site levelling and preparation. The 10-month road contract involves the construction of two interchanges and a perimeter road.

The project is one of a number of large sports stadiums planned for development in the region as governments seek to host World sporting events to increase tourism levels as they attempt to diversify their economies away from dependence on oil and gas resources.

GCC construction awards* 
Bahrain $0.8bn
Kuwait $3bn
Oman $1.6bn
Qatar $6.9bn
Saudi Arabia $19.1bn
UAE $9.9bn
*=Q1-Q3 2011. Source: MEED Projects

Qatar has the most ambitious plans. In December last year, Qatar was awarded the right to host football’s World Cup event in 2022. In preparation for the event, Doha will spend $4bn over the next 10 years on building nine new stadiums and upgrading the existing Al-Rayyan, Al-Gharafa and Khalifa stadiums. Eight of the nine new stadiums will range in capacity from 43,500 to 47,500 and the proposed Lusail Stadium, which will be used for the opening and closing matches, will have a capacity of more than 86,000 people.

The new projects follow on from the $2.8bn Qatar spent on building new stadiums and sports centres to host the Asian Games in 2006. The Asian Cup football finals were held in Qatar in January 2011.

Iraq is also developing a number of sports stadiums as it plans to host the Gulf Cup of Nations football event in Basra in 2013. A design-build team of US-based firm 360 Architecture and the Anwar Soura General Contracting Company is working on three major sports stadiums in Iraq. The biggest of these is at Basra Sports City, where the team is working on a 65,000-seat stadium.

Kuwait is another Gulf state planning large sums of capital to build sporting infrastructure capable of enabling it to host major sporting events in the future. Towards the end of 2010, the Public Authority for Housing Care (PAHC) invited consultants to prequalify for a contract to design an Olympic Village at its Sabah al-Ahmed development, located in the Al-Ahmadi governorate.

The proposed Olympic Village will contain a number of indoor and outdoor sports and recreation facilities. The largest of these will be a stadium with a capacity of 70,000 to 80,000 people. The multi-use stadium will cover a total area of 40,000 square metres (sq m). The development will also include an aquatic centre, which will contain an Olympic-sized swimming pool covering an area of 10,000 sq m and another swimming pool covering an area of 6,500 sq m.

It is hoped that these proposed stadium projects will fare better than the $1.4bn stadium that was planned for Abu Dhabi. In May last year, contractors submitted bids for an estimated 65,000-capacity football stadium, that was due to be built as part of the new Capital City District next to Khalifa City, between Mussafah and Abu Dhabi International airport. Five months later, the client, government-owned Mubadala Development Company, put the proposed 65,000-seat stadium project on hold.