US firm wins deal to plan Saudi homes boom

Parsons to design and plan new homes on 32m sq m of land across the kingdom
US firm wins deal to plan Saudi homes boom
By Andy Sambidge
Wed 02 Nov 2011 05:04 PM

US-based Parsons said on Wednesday it has been awarded a contract to master plan thousands of new homes in Saudi Arabia.

The award of the first package released by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Housing as part of a programme to build 500,000 houses over the next few years comprises 32 million sq m of land.

The package is divided into 11 sites spread across the kingdom with each site ranging from 10 million sq m in Dammam to 729,000 sq m in Khamis Mushayt.

Parsons said in a statement that under the contract, it will be responsible for master planning, neighbourhood planning, infrastructure design, and the design of various housing types, as well as construction supervision of all 11 developments.

The company did not give a value for the contract.

Earlier this year, as pro-democracy protests swept through the region, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah announced social spending programmes estimated around $130bn, which included building 500,000 new homes at a cost of $66.7bn.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to such a strategic project in the kKingdom of Saudi Arabia. We have been working in the kingdom for the last 35 years, and we are committed to support the leadership in their ambitious plans," said Guy Mehula, Parsons MENA+ president.

Parsons has been working in the Middle East, North Africa, and the northern Mediterranean Sea border countries for more than 60 years and has offices in the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Rome, Istanbul, and Athens.

Parsons' portfolio of ongoing projects in the region includes major highways, bridges, rail and transit, airports, ports, water infrastructure, plus hospitals, public schools, universities, mosques, and other public buildings.

Last month, Jones Lang LaSalle's director in Saudi Arabia said the gap between housing demand and supply in the country was narrowing as banks start to lend and government support boosts sector development.

John Harris said that housing supply in the biggest Arab economy had been restricted over the past three years, with investors and banks reluctant to invest in real estate projects after the global financial crisis.

Saudi Arabia has a fast growing population of 27 million people, most of whom are under the age of 30. Real estate service company Jones Lang LaSalle estimates annual demand for housing to be between 150,000 and 200,000 units per year.

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