King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia, A Dying King’s Legacy

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With 24 percent of all sea trade going through the Red Sea it is no surprise that Saudi Arabia’s former king, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz had plans to build one of the most cohesive and well-planned cities in the Arab world, the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). Located just an hour’s drive north of Jeddah, this $100 billion enterprise will connect both the cities of Makkah and Madinah through a high-tech, high-speed rail network and will be as large as Washington DC.

The project had a rocky start, finding it difficult to have initial investors. That’s why the King decided to build the largest port (King Abdullah Port – KAP) in the region. The second phase in the project’s development is the Industrial Valley, which houses a large petrochemical plant and has successfully attracted over 60 national and international companies, some of which are already operational within the KAP.

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And this is not all. The city also offers access to higher education. That’s why the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology began its construction back in 2009. It’s one of the best funded universities in the world, with an initial $20 billion endowment given by the King himself, and is only surpassed by Harvard and Yale. It is also the first mixed-gender university in the country.

When finished, this multi-billion project will be home to over two million people and will give job opportunities for one million. This is the greatest legacy King Abdullah left his people after his death in January 2015.