Saudi Arabia picks teams to build village for 10,000 workers on Red Sea tourism mega-scheme

The developer of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Project, the ambitious plan to turn the country’s remote west coast into a global luxury tourism destination, has awarded the first contracts to build a village in the desert to house thousands of construction workers needed for the scheme.

To be built mostly with prefabricated and modular elements, developer The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) said the "Construction Village" would be "the benchmark for construction worker accommodation in the region and in the industry".

Winning the contracts were a joint venture between Al Raeel Engineering Construction & Development (ARCCO) and modular builder Speed House, both based in the UAE, and Saudi company Al Majal Al Arabi Group.

Each of the two teams will erect 5,000 units over the next 10 months to house the initial 10,000 workers needed to build infrastructure, hotels, residential properties, a marina, and other leisure amenities in the first phase of the scheme, which TRSDC said is planned to open in 2022.

Unveiled in 2017 by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman as part of his drive to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil, the Red Sea Project will transform 28,000 sq km of undeveloped land on Saudi Arabia’s west coast. 

The plan is to put the kingdom on the global tourism map with ultra-luxury tourism capitalising on around 90 pristine islands and lagoons, dramatic mountain topography, and heritage sites.

The Red Sea Development Company is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Over time, a further 25,000 construction workers will be housed on site.

In February this year TRSDC opened its "Base Camp" (pictured), an initial operational headquarters for 60 project and construction managers and other professionals getting enabling works under way.

"A healthy, happy workforce is key to the delivery of the destination in line with our sustainable development approach, an approach which is guided by a commitment to set new standards at every stage of the development," said John Pagano, TRSDC’s chief executive, formerly managing director of Canary Wharf Contractors Ltd and Canary Wharf Group Plc.

TRSDC’s chief project delivery officer, Ian Williamson, formerly of Arcadis and Aecom, said: "The design of the Construction Village focuses on creating a community feel, intended to enhance the welfare and quality of life of the workers who will live there.

"By requiring that all construction workers are housed in accommodation built and managed by TRSDC, we are making every effort to ensure that we become the benchmark for construction worker accommodation in the region and in the industry as whole."

The Construction Village will be organised in neighbourhoods around a central area equipped with recreational facilities.

Rooms will have shared bathrooms, thus avoiding communal shower and toilet blocks, and a catering team will cater for a diverse international workforce.

According the TRSDC, also under construction are a million-square-metre nursery to populate planned gardens, marine infrastructure including causeways, a bridge and jetties to facilitate the movement of machinery, materials and workers, and a 150-room project management hotel.

Image: The Red Sea Project’s "Base Camp" opened in February 2019 to start enabling works (TRSDC)

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