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Sat 13 Mar 2010 04:00 AM

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General knowledge

Madinah Knowlege Economic City project director Mark Dickson gives an overview of the scope of the KSA project.

Madinah Knowlege Economic City project director Mark Dickson gives an overview of the scope of the KSA project.

We've heard a lot about Madinah Knowledge Economic City project, but just how large is it?

There are two parts of the city. There is the main KEC, which is the land owned by the King Abdullah Foundation, and the core of the development. The adjoining land owners and investors have joined with us, which just about doubles the size of the property for the greater KEC. We can't speak on their behalf, but we will be making sure that they comply with our controls and development guidelines, so that our core city is 480 hectares and the expanded is 840 hectares. We plan to finish the project in 15 years.

What were the key points when considering the infrastructure?

We are providing a full suite of infrastructure, with everything below ground level. That's the gravity services, water, irrigation and the roads. What makes us unique in the economic cities is that we are adjacent to an existing city, so we don't have to provide power stations or water treatment plants, as we are tapping into the existing infrastructure.

In which case, is there enough power generation and water capacity?

Yes. We've been talking to SCC and the national water company and they have all been very cooperative. We believe they can satisfy our demands. Perhaps in places they can adjust their roll-out as they have their own construction projects, but we don't foresee any difficulties there.

How many contractors will be on site?

We'll have the main infrastructure contractor, we'll have the apartment contractor and villa contractor who are the main contractors on site. There will also be the district cooling contractor and the substation contractors as well a series of support - people brought in for other jobs, such as heavy lifting, surveying, soil analysis and so on.

From an engineering point of view, what is the main challenge when building this city?

The city is actually built on a sort of volcanic basalt structure, which for contractors coming out is quite different for them. There is no soil there at all, it is all solid rock. There are some ‘woody' areas, which are based in a sort of clay, but predominantly it is based on basalt.  For people used to other parts of the region, where they have been working on sand, this is going to be quite different. From the point of view [of the PMV industry] there is going to be some heavy breaking and pneumatic rippers involved.

What sort of capacity is the district cooling plant?

At the moment we have a plan for four plants, as the capacity is greater than any one can economically achieve. It is really down to the district cooling concessionaire what the exact design will be, but we envisage four plants with a capacity of about 60,000 tonnes.

Do you find events like the Saudi PMV Show, which are just beginning to take off in the kingdom, useful for contacts and suchlike?

Well, yes, because a part  of our role is to make sure that we have the right contractors working on our projects. There is a lot of work happening in the kingdom at the moment. So we want the right contractors on our project. We want to get the word out there, so we want to sell ourselves to them so that they don't go and over commit themselves to someone else.

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