It has been a year of major milestones at the $27-billion Masar Destination, a cultural destination that aims to transform the western part of Makkah under an ambitious redevelopment programme.
The masterplan of Masar Destination includes 3.8 million sq m of buildings serving the hospitality sector comprising 40,000 hotel rooms and apartments; 2.1 million sq m of residential buildings offering 10,000 homes; a 317,870-sq-m commercial zone; 987,000 sq m of office spaces; 28,700 sq m of public service centres; and 272,290 sq m dedicated to health services.
Umm Al Qura Company for Development and Construction (UAQ), which is spearheading the massive development, has signed several partnerships that will enable the project to progress on multiple fronts as work on the infrastructure reaches an advanced stage.
“More than 80 per cent of the infrastructure works have been completed,” a spokesman for UAQ tells Gulf Construction.
In addition, the company has made remarkable progress in attracting new investors into the development. The latest partnership deal was struck last month with Fakeeh Care Group to build a state-of-the-art hospital at Masar Destination at a total investment of SR1 billion ($266 million).
Fakeeh Care Group is a unit of Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, one of the most distinguished pioneers in healthcare institutions in Saudi Arabia and the UAE for more than 42 years.
The Fakeeh hospital will be located on the western side of Masar Destination and only 100 m away from the Haramain train station. The major medical facility will boast 200 beds, 60 outpatient clinics, 20 emergency units, and six operation rooms, according to UAQ. It will provide comprehensive healthcare services, in the specialties of obstetrics and gynaecology and cancer treatment as well as providing intensive care, dialysis, physiotherapy, radiology and laboratory services.
"Today we add a new dimension to Masar in providing integrated health care to the visitors and residents of Makkah in a strategic partnership with Fakih Medical Group," said Yasser Abu Atiq, CEO of UAQ and Construction after signing the deal.
Once operational in 2027, it will serve approximately 340,000 patients annually, he added.
Listing some of the new partnerships signed over the past year, the spokesman says UAQ has partnered with:
• Kaden Investment Company to develop and manage Masar Front, a distinct cultural, shopping and entertainment destination. Once completed, the Masar Front will offer visitors a wide range of experiences over the entire span of the pedestrian walkway, which is more than 158,000 sq m area. This comes after the long-standing success of Kaden Investment Company in the development of Riyadh Front project.
• Hamat Property Company to develop Masar Mall, which will be the largest mall in Makkah. The agreement provides for the development of the mall's facilities over a 71,000-sq-m area which will offer more than 130,000 sq m of shopping space. Masar Mall involves a total investment of SR2.7 billion. Strategically located on the western entrance to the Masar destination opposite the Haramain train station, the retail development is targeted for completion in 2026.
• Al Diar Al Arabiya Company for the construction of 10 new residential towers at Masar residential community development at an investment of $798 million.
• Al Jabal Al Arabia company to set up Ponceana Hotel at an investment of SR600 million, as one of the first Saudi local hotel brands to join the project. The hotel tower will contain 28 floors and 950 hotel rooms to accommodate 3,800 guests.
Other hotel partnerships have been signed with Kempinski Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, Marriott Hotels and Taj Hotel.
In addition, UAQ has signed a number of deals for utilities and telecommunications services at Masar Destination.
“We have strategic agreements with National Electricity Transmission Company to establish two central transmission stations and link them to the electrical system network; and with National Water Company to construct facilities to supply potable water, provide sanitation services, and interconnect the internal networks implemented for Masar Destination,” the spokesman says.
In addition, Advanced Communications and Electronics Systems Company has been enlisted to equip and develop the 5G ICT wireless communication infrastructure (mobile services) to create a smart environment for residents and visitors of Makkah, the spokesman adds.
Masar Destination has helped Umm Al Qura Company for Development and Construction secure the 13th Makkah Excellence Award in the Economic Excellence category this year. reflecting the importance of the destination economically and its achievement of excellence in design, implementation, and future vision.
Masar will extend from the borders of the Third Ring Road at the entrance of the Makkah-Jeddah Highway from the west and beyond the First Ring Road at the eastern border of Jabal Omar on the outskirts of the Holy Mosque (Al Haram Al Sharif).
The project is mandated by a royal decree for the development of King Abdulaziz Road. Its masterplan is based on a main two-way road, 80-m wide, which allows for the seamless movement of vehicles and buses to and from the Holy Mosque. The two sides of the road will be separated by an urban cluster traversed by a pedestrian boulevard that will allow pilgrims to move easily to the Haram Al Sharif area from the western entrance of Makkah without hindering traffic flow.
The urban cluster, which extends through the length of the project, will host international hotels, commercial centres and retail outlets, green parks, government services complexes, medical and health centres, and many integrated cultural, recreational, and social amenities.
Masar spans a total area of 1.25 million sq m, in addition to the 141,000 sq m occupied by King Abdullah Mosque, which sits at the heart of the project. Extending 3,650 m long and 320 m wide, Masar links the First, Second and Third Ring roads to the key roads – Abdullah Arif and Mansour streets. It also includes tunnels, metro stations, parking lots, and hotels, as well as residential, commercial, office, and service facilities. A bus rapid transit network and parking garages that will feature around 5,700 parking spaces will also be part of the destination. There will be an additional 31,087 parking lots once the destination’s development is complete.
Work on the project began in 2015, with the first phase having involved evacuating and demolishing properties from six unplanned neighbourhoods.
UAQ, the owner and master-developer of the project is a closed joint-stock company with shareholders from the private sector and state-owned sovereign wealth funds, including the Ministry of Finance, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the General Organization for Social Insurance, Public Pension Agency, and the General Authority for Awqaf.