Work is ongoing on a massive development that involves the construction of a total of 46 towers uniquely located right in the vicinity of Islam’s holiest site, Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Following the completion of Phase One of the seven-phased Jabal Omar project in 2017, the owner, master developer and manager, Jabal Omar Development Company (JODC), has been focusing efforts on completing phases Two, Three and Four of the ambitious mixed-use development that enfolds hospitality, commercial and luxury residential components. These three phases span over a total land area of 68,178 sq m and consist of a total of 15 towers, including five-star and four-star luxury hotels that will be operated by internationally renowned hotel operators, such as Jumeirah, DoubleTree by Hilton, Alana, The Royal Alana, H Hotel and The Address.
Once completed, the hospitality services and facilities across these phases will offer a room capacity of 5,000 keys.
Work on Phase Two is 85.13 per cent done and is targeted for completion by the end of Q4 2022; Phase Three is over 90 per cent complete and is expected to be finished by the end of Q1 2023; while Phase Four is at the 63 per cent mark and should be ready by the end of Q4 2023, Saad Bin Aiban, Chief Development & Projects Management of JODC, tells Gulf Construction in an exclusive interview.
Phases Five, Six and Seven are in the planning stages and have been redesigned to increase the total built-up area to 1,085,494 sq m, Bin Aiban states.
“We continue to execute our transformation plan from a financial, operational and organisational perspective – allowing JODC to become more financially sustainable, and a more operationally resilient and efficient company,” he adds.
With the removal of Covid-19 restrictions in the kingdom, and the increase in global travel, JODC is gearing up to accommodate a large number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims this year.
“This Ramadan, we have observed over 6.6 million pilgrims performing their Umrah and this is an encouraging indicator of the upcoming Hajj season. The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that one million international and domestic pilgrims will be allowed to perform Hajj this year,” Bin Aiban remarks.
The Jabal Omar project covers a land area of over 235,000 sq m and a built-up area of more than 2.5 million sq m. It will feature 11 international hotels including Hilton, Marriott, Conrad, Hyatt Regency, The Address, H Hotel, Alana, The Royal Alana and Jumeirah with a capacity of more than 13,000 keys or 36,000 guests on a normal day. It will include the largest convention centre in Makkah.
The Jabal Omar Hilton and Convention Centre Hotel will feature a number of museums including the Museum of Majesty and Beauty, the Museum of Great Creation and the Museum of the Grand Mosque.
To facilitate access to the Grand Mosque, the project features pedestrian roads equipped with escalators, while an internal ring road connects all parts of the project by a bus/shuttle service.
The entire project area has all the necessary infrastructure and services such as roads, public utilities, central district cooling, advanced waste disposal system and integrated sewage networks, rainwater harvesting systems, gray water treatment as well as a central CCTV system. The area will be served with more than 3,000 car parking spaces.
JODC is working with a number of consultants and contractors across the development of Phases Two, Three and Four, including Dar Al Riyadh, ECG and EHAF as supervision consultants and Saudi Arabian Baytur, Arabian Construction Company SAL, Al Futtaim and RCC as contractors.
“Our other partners are predominantly related to infrastructure and systems such as district cooling (Tabreed), central building management, rainwater harvesting, advanced waste management (Envac), gray water treatment (Veolia) and central CCTV,” Bin Aiban says.
To date, six hotels – Jabal Omar Hilton Suites, Jabal Omar Marriott, Jabal Omar Hilton Makkah & Convention Center, Jabal Omar Hyatt Regency, Jabal Omar Conrad and Jabal Omar Doubletree by Hilton Makkah – have been completed and are operational across 12 towers and include 3,441 rooms and suites. In addition, four commercial/retail centres that are directly connected with the hotels with a leasable area of 47,830 sq m, are currently in operation. These include hotels and malls developed under Phase One as well as some in the second and third phases.
Phase One, involving a total land area and built-up area of 27,509 sq m and 523,975 sq m respectively, comprised four podiums and 10 hotel towers containing 2,796 hotel rooms, 87 apartments and housing units, in addition to 10 upper villas and a commercial area of 21,571 sq m and 464 parking spaces.
Phase Two comprises a 10-storey podium with three levels of commercial space/mall (8,072 sq m) and 96 apartments, and four 24-storey hotel towers with a total of 1,133 rooms, being built over an area of area of 11,375 sq m and encompassing a built-up area of 198,451 sq m. The upper floor of each tower will feature a penthouse, taking the total number of residential units to 100.
The hotel towers, to be operated by Jumeirah International Hotel Group as the Jabal Omar Jumeirah Hotel, are under construction and will be completed in December 2022. The mall – Souk Al-Khalil-3 – located below the Jabal Omar Jumeirah Hotel – opened in 2021 and offers a gross leasable area of 8,102 sq m with 109 shops and 176 car parking spots.
“Phase Two is currently partially handed over; this includes commercial spaces/malls area and 96 hotel apartments in podium floors and associated service areas,” Bin Aiban says.
“Concrete and building envelope works are completed while work is ongoing on the restaurants, kitchen, entrance lobbies and hotel guest rooms, First and second fix of mechanical, electrical and plumbing works are partially remaining. Interior design finishes have started in the podium level. Final architectural finishes including wallpaper, carpets, wooden works, are remaining for the towers,” he adds.
Phase Two has called for the use of more than 152,447 cu m of concrete, 28,910 ton of reinforcement and around 419,860 sq m of formwork.
The total man‐hours worked till end of May 2022 was 42,577,173, with peak manpower recorded being 2,525 (2,303 direct and 222 indirect) on 18 June 2022.
Phase Three covering a total area of 28,596 sq m, will offer a built-up area of 422,535 sq m on two podium levels and four hotel towers with 2,160 rooms. It also includes a commercial area of 23,736 sq m and 478 parking spaces.
This phase includes two hotels, one of which Jabal Omar DoubleTree by Hilton – is operational and the other is under construction; as well as one shopping mall. Jabal Omar DoubleTree by Hilton housed in two 33-storey towers offers a total of 448 rooms and 228 suites.
The Jabal Omar The Address, which is under construction, consists of two 42-storey towers with a total of 1,484 rooms and suites.
“Construction works of the first tower, H2z, is expected to be completed by October end while the second tower, H1A, will be ready December-end,” Bin Aiban says.
Meanwhile, Souk Makkah Gate located below Jabal Omar Doubletree by Hilton – opened in 2021. The mall offers 17,011 sq m of gross leasable area.
A distinctive twin-tower complex with a Musalla skybridge is under construction as part of Phase Three.
Elaborating on this bridge structure, he says: “Boasting the highest suspended prayer area, it consists of a steel bridge with a truss system that was assembled at a height of 312 m above sea level, then lifted using special hydraulic jacks to the final level of 473.5 m above sea level. It was designed to allow for the movement of the two towers but also features a prayer area which is linked to the twin towers at the 37th, 38th and 40th floors (with an elevation of 40 m); at a height of 165 m above the ground.
“The main platform weighs 270 tons, while the final load is up to 400 tons; with an area of 550 sq m, and is able to accommodate 520 persons at capacity.
“Phase Three will be handed over in two stages. Part of the Podium PN01 and the Towers H1B and H1C are completed and will be operated by DoubleTree by Hilton. The remaining area of Podiums PN01 and Podium P06A and the Towers H1A and H2Z have reached an overall completion rate of 89.35 per cent,” Bin Aiban says.
Phase Four, spread over a 28,268 sq m area and offering a built-up area of 309,557 sq m, will consist of three podiums, and seven hotel towers containing 1,789 hotel rooms as well as three residential units. It also includes a commercial area of 20,433 sq m and 479 parking spaces.
“The past two years navigating the Covid-19 global pandemic have been challenging. The Hajj and Umrah sector – along with tourism and many other sectors – was impacted by the measures and restrictions placed to combat the spread of the virus, leading to unoccupied hotel rooms, malls and restaurants for most of 2020 and part of 2021. The pandemic resulted in significant constraints on global supply chains, due to the strict worldwide lockdowns that slowed down and, in some cases, stoppage of the delivery of raw materials and finished goods,” Bin Aiban points out.
He continues: “To provide some context, pre Covid-19 the kingdom welcomed over 19 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, and one in every 10 of those visitors were staying or spending at one of our hospitality, retail or commercial assets.
“Now with the removal of Covid-19 restrictions and the increase in travel, we expect to see a very strong recovery in the number of visitors to Makkah for Hajj and Umrah.”
Last September, JODC sold a parcel of land (2,600.32 sq m) within the project via a public auction for SR517 million.
“The proceeds from this strategic land sale enabled JODC to further progress with the completion of construction of the critical phases in our project and is in line with our holistic financial transformation strategy to strengthen our capital structure,” Bin Aiban says.
“Through selectively selling plots of land in some phases of the project that are still under development, we are building synergies with third-party real estate investors with a strong track record of real estate development and management to help accelerate the pace of development in Makkah.
“This aligned vision enables us and our partners to be better positioned to complete the project in a more timely, efficient manner while committing to delivering at high quality standards and to world-class specifications,” he concludes.