The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has created a new entity with the aim of transforming the historic Al Balad district in Jeddah into a prominent global tourist destination.
This recently formed company, known as Al Balad Development Co., will create 9,300 residences and 1,800 hotel units over 2.5 million square meters while also improving infrastructure and restoring ancient structures.
This project is in line with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, a detailed strategy to expand the country's economy beyond oil. By 2030, the nation hopes to welcome more than 100 million tourists, increasing the sector's share of the GDP to over 10%.
PIF emphasized that this newly established company will provide Jeddah's citizens enticing business alternatives and possibilities for investment. In order to develop the area's infrastructure to the highest urban planning standards for historical zones, it will partner with the private sector and experts in the field, prioritizing environmental sustainability and the preservation of Historic Jeddah's UNESCO World Heritage status. Additionally, the project will yield 1.3 million square meters of industrial and administrative space.
The launch of this new company coincides with the "Revitalize Historic Jeddah" initiative, initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021, as part of the broader "Historic Jeddah Development Project." The aim is to make the historic town a dynamic hub for trade, tourism, and cultural pursuits.
In the first stage of the project, the shoreline will be reclaimed after being filled in to make room for Jeddah's urban growth. The subsequent phase focuses on building infrastructure for a new neighborhood, while the third phase includes the construction of a marina, green areas, pedestrian walkways, and public utilities.
Notably, Al-Balad, frequently called the "heart and soul" of Jeddah, was just nominated for a Wanderlust Travel Award in the "Most Desirable City — Rest of World" category.
Since the early days of Islam, pilgrims have travelled a great deal through the Al-Balad district, which boasts about 600 landmark structures, 36 historic mosques, five prominent ancient markets, and extensive alleyways and squares.
Since the introduction of Vision 2030, PIF has been a key player in Saudi Arabia's efforts to broaden its economy. As indicated in its latest annual report, the sovereign wealth fund currently manages assets valued at SR2.23 trillion ($595 billion). PIF has established 70 companies, with 25 of them founded in 2022, including Saudi Coffee Co. and Halal Products Development Co. According to the annual report, in 2022 alone, PIF-affiliated companies generated approximately 181,000 jobs.