Saudia Arabia Property

kingdom tower

Engineers working on the Kingdom Tower, a 3, 280-foot-high construction intended for Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, are beginning tests on the materials they’ll need to use to construct it. 3, 2800 feet is a little over half a mile, and as a result, advanced materials and techniques will be needed both for the tower itself and for the process of constructing it.

For the final construction, engineers will face challenges like figuring out how to match elevator technology to the new elevation – how to transport people vertically for distances of half a mile or more in an acceptable time without making it feel like the world’s most incongruously upmarket fairground – and how to circulate air, water and other essentials around the building. But that will have to wait until they’ve figured out how to build it at all.

Before the tower even gets off the drawing board, engineers have two major problems to overcome, depth and weight. The Kingdom tower will require foundations around 200 feet deep, which means they’ll penetrate the (salt) water table. Since salt water is notoriously corrosive to steel and concrete, which are certain to be the tower’s two main ingredients, this will present a new set of engineering challenges. After this is solved, at least in theory, weight must be addressed.

The tower will likely contain over 80, 000 tons of steel. That will have to be mixed with new blends of high-strength concrete to cope with the increased stresses of the kilometre-high tower. When the tower simply stands erect, the forces acting on it will mostly be compression – the weight of the floors above will press down on those below, and the walls and skeleton of the building will need to be strong enough to resist. But when the wind blows, the whole building will act like a giant beam, with a mixture of tension, compression and shear forces distributing themselves along its height. That will require even more strength from the building’s structural components.

Having figured out how it’s to be done, though, the engineers will have to figure out how to do it. When Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov climbed the still-unfinished Shanghai Tower, they passed through clouds on the way up. The Kingdom will be significantly taller – a third again higher, in fact – and while, unlike the plucky Russian duo, workers on the project will have safety equipment, they’ll also have a near-impossible job to do when they get to the top.

Concrete in buildings like this is poured, pumped under pressure from a base station through a tube that’s normally no thicker than six inches long a swinging arm to allow it to be laid over the steel rods that hold the building together. That involves some pretty impressive forces on the second floor. Half a mile up, it’s a whole new game.

Something similar has been done before, though. When the Burjj Khalifa went up, an engineering team led by Samsung was able to pour almost six million cubic feet of concrete through a single tube, thanks to innovative pump design from German firm Putzmeister. The Burjj, though, is still not quite Kingdom Tower sized.

It’s always possible that the Kingdom Tower itself might never get off the drawing board. But the methods used to build it will be used, even if that’s for other projects. As Dr. Sang Dae Kim, director of the Council on Tall Buildings, told Construction Weekly, ‘in terms of practicalities, we don’t need to build at two kilometres – but someone with a lot of money might still want to do it.’ The technology will be developed with one eye to the Kingdom Tower, then – and one to the future.

riyad-city-landscape

Saudi Arabia has announced that it plans to construct a women-only industrial city in the country’s Eastern province city of Hofuf. According to Saudi business paper Al Eqtisadiah, the city has been proposed by a group of Saudi businesswomen, represented by Hussa al-Aun, who told the paper, ‘The new industrial city should have a specialized training centre to help women develop their talents.’

The city is a proposed solution to an impasse in Saudi national life: women want more independence, and the economy needs their labour, but Saudi society is strictly segregated. The country is governed according to Sharia law, and one result is that women’s lives are highly controlled, to a greater degree than almost anywhere else in the world. Saudi women are, notoriously, forbidden to drive, but are also not legally permitted to travel alone with a man who is not their husband, or to pray at mosques without special female prayer sections. Women will vote in Saudi local elections for the first time in 2015, and the 2012 London Olympics were the first to feature female Saudi athletes.

Women are segregated at work, too: of the 15% of Saudi women who work, most work in female-only companies. Saudi Arabia regularly comes in for a drubbing from human rights groups for its repressive attitude toward women. However, the reason for the creation of the female employment enclave is likely to have relatively little to do with foreign pressure.

Hussa al-Aun continued her statement by saying that the special training centre should ‘train [women] to work in factories. This is essential to cut our graduate unemployment rate.’ The city in Hofuf is expected to create 5, 000 textiles, pharmaceuticals and food processing jobs – in other words, it will focus on secondary production and high added value manual work. In the process the development is expected to add 500 million riyals – about $133.3m – to the Saudi economy.women-in-suadi-arabia

The building of the female-only city has come after government pressure to increase the female workforce, and the Deputy Director General of the Saudi Industrial Property Authority, Saleh al-Rasheed, told UPI that he was ‘sure that women can demonstrate their efficiency in many aspects and clarify the industries that best suit their interests, nature and ability.’ Saudi Arabia’s female workforce employment rate languishes around the 15% mark, and a recent Gallup poll found that an increasing number of businesses were insisting that women be unmarried to qualify for employment.

In June, the country unsuccessfully attempted to persuade fellow OPEC members to allow a higher production ceiling. With a growth in oil revenue out of its government’s control, maybe Saudi Arabia is hoping to diversify its economy into industries suited to women’s abilities and natures, such as pharma and clothing production. It certainly looks that way; even before a brick of the new city has been laid, four more similar cities have been proposed.

In addition to providing an economic boost to Saudi Arabia – if each of the five such projects meet the target income proposed for the Hofuf development, the initiative will be worth $666m to the Saudi economy – the plan might provide a safety valve for a major social pressure in Saudi society. YouGov and Bayt.com carried out a poll in July 2012 which found that 65% of Saudi women who worked wanted to increase their financial independence through their careers. In a society that restricts women’s opportunities so drastically, employment of any sort is likely to ease the frustration of Saudi women – at least in the short term.

However, increasing education – leading to that pool of unemployed graduates that worries Ms. Al-Aun – together with internet access have contributed to Saudi women’s willingness to assert themselves that the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights calls ‘a game-changer.’ Without liberalization of Saudi society in other ways, the halfway house of women-only employment zones may turn out to be too small to accommodate the aspirations of the best-educated generation of Saudi women ever.

Photo Credits: IMP1 & Wasapninworld via Flickr

JEDDAH – Real estate is the fastest growing sector in Saudi Arabia with more than SR1 trillion in investments. The growth is said to be the second highest in the world after Shanghai, according to Solaiman Al-Majed, Chairman, Tanmiyat Group.

But the burgeoning market needs to be regulated and organised in order to avoid scams, of which there have been quite a few, as well as achieve continuous progress and maintain investor confidence.

Apart from businessmen, thousands of ordinary Saudis have invested their money in real estate, in the expectation of large profits. But according to financial analyst Abdelmenem Jamil Addas this was not a healthy trend. “People think that they are seeing the dawn of a new era in the real estate market, that it will bring unimaginable riches and prosperity to all. This overconfidence will have dangerous consequences on our economy,” he added.

He said that the recent rise in real estate prices was being fuelled by artificially low short-term interest rates and a huge increase in bank loans. “We should not forget that as soon as interest rates rise, the rally in real estate prices will come to an abrupt end,” he explained. “Any market that is rising because of an increase in bank’s loans ought to be viewed with great caution,” he said.

According to Dr. Abdul Aziz Turkistani, a real estate expert, the real estate boom has led to the creation of many professional companies. “These firms,” he says, “are working to improve their organisational structure and marketing strategy in order to transform the sector into a successful industry.” He felt that real estate companies in the Kingdom should form an association to promote the industry with a view to facing competition from foreign firms.

Wafa Al-Ghamdi, an expert in the field, said there was a professional approach and a chaotic way of developing and marketing real estate. The professional approach relied on market studies, market analyses and meeting customer demands. “The Saudi real estate market still depends on old methods and does not meet customer demands, especially middle and lower class families,” she said. Among the problems the Saudi real estate market faced was the domination of a few investors, lack of studies, lack of laws protecting the investors and customers, lack of transparency in dealings and the reliance on rumours to promote properties. “There is also lack of market awareness among customers, particularly women, and agents take advantage of the women’s lack of knowledge,” Al-Ghamdi said.

A Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) working team recently made a number of proposals to make the business transparent and foolproof protect the rights of investors and ensure steady growth.

The boom has been attributed to the continuous repatriation of Saudi funds from overseas and increasing liquidity supported by soaring oil revenues.

Government projects and initiatives provide major opportunities for the private sector. They also continue to ensure that the construction industry remains the largest non-oil economic sector in the Kingdom. It was estimated to have contributed more than $15 billion to the national economy in 2005.

Recognising the need to diversify and reform its economy, the government has provided incentives and relaxed laws. This has boosted the private sector’s enthusiasm for heavy investments in residential and commercial buildings. It is estimated that 555,000 individuals will need new housing annually. This gives ample scope for developers. It equates to 100,000 new residential units a year. Additionally, the Kingdom is also developing its tourism industry (largely local and religious tourism) and it is expected to contribute $22 billion to the economy by 2023.

The Kingdom’s new Real Estate Law allows non-Saudi residents to own real estate for their private residence with the permission of the Interior Ministry. It also allows ownership of real estate by foreign investors to conduct their business activities and to own properties needed for their accommodation and that of their employees. The law also entitles investors to rent out property.

According to Abdul Monem Murad, chairman of the real estate development committee at JCCI total investments in 53 real estate share businesses across the country have reached more than SR14 billion.

Abdul Rahman Al-Jeraisy, chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), is spearheading a joint venture with other businessmen to set up a large real estate company in Riyadh with a capital of SR30 billion. He said the new company would have a strong presence all over Saudi Arabia. His estimate is that five million housing units would be required by 2010.

Source: MENAFN