Jazan Economic City: a regional anchor for economic prosperity.

December 6, 2017 in Infrastructure

Jazan Economic City (JEC) is a formidable business and industrial dwelling under construction in the Jizan Province of Saudi Arabia. Strategically designed for industrial prosperity, JEC has ample access to the region’s finest raw materials and quality produce.

The city will take local knowledge to an international level. Local resources will power industries, local harvests will transform into world class produce, and jobs will be created with world class capabilities.

The 103KM2 area is located close to Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, 60km northwest of Jazan City.

The Saudi government are hoping to utilise the natural state of the mineral rich region. The city of Jazan lies in the south west section of the country. It has a population of approximately 1.2 million and covers an area of 40,000 km2. Jizan is home to the Port of Jizan, Saudi Arabia’s third most important port on the Red Sea. The port is situated on the southern Red Sea coast, which boasts a coastline of almost 300 km. It is close to the main east and west sea trade routes to Europe, the Far East and Persian Gulf. The Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia’s first protected wildlife area, are home to the endangered Arabian gazelle. During the winter period, the islands receive migratory birds from Europe. The plains plains are noted for the production of coffee beans and grain crops, like barley millet and wheat; and fruits, such as apples, bananas, grapes, mangoes, papayas, plums and citrus varieties. These precious resources can be cultivated, cared for, traded and exported.

The main industries in JEC are ‘heavy’: oil, aluminium and steel. However, heavy industries like petrochemical and mineral processing plants will also be mixed with secondary industries, such as construction materials, human capital and lifestyle.

The sheer scale of the city allows for industry to be diversified into other domains, like pharmaceuticals, food processing and agricultural production. JEC will deal and trade in these industries with ease, because the city has been built next to major trading routes in the Red Sea. European, Asian and East African markets are expected to receive raw and manufactured materials from the Economic City in years to come.

According to chairman of the build, Mr. Al-Falih, “The Jazan Economic City vision seeks to invest in the region’s natural resources, diverse geographic features and human resources to make a major positive difference to the area’s future, so that Jazan will become a significant  contributor to the Kingdom’s economy,”.

The city is being built at a steady pace. Aramco are leading the build, implementing most of the major infrastructure. However, once they have completed their work, JEC will change hands and belong to the government and the private sector.

On speaking to Trade Arabia News, the president and CEO OF Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, emphasised the significance of the build. He said:

“This project is very important for the region and we should be proud of the positive impact we are creating in terms of enabling an ecosystem.”

He continued:

“We need to bring business and investment here, light industry and medium-sized industry. You are creating an ecosystem, creating opportunities for investment and job opportunities. In five years’ time, you will see a very different city. We need to execute the project safely and we are proud we are building this mega-project,”

Initially, JEC’s developer was the joint venture of Malaysia’s MMC corporation and local Saudi Binlandin Group (SBG). However, the first has now been removed from the consortium. On the governmental side, the Economic Cities Authority (ECA) is the prime development facilitator: the one-stop government servicing center for the development of JEC.

To create smart city infrastructure, CISCO will undertake the design and implementation of the network infrastructure and connected city services. The city will be wired with high-speed broadband infrastructure and all urban operations will be managed through Integrated Operations’ Centers, meant to act as the ‘brain of the city’.

Right now, Aramco is working on a refinery complex in the city. Construction is underway on a $2.1bn industrial gas compound, which is set to become the largest facility of its kind in the world. The complex will serve Saudi Aramco’s Jazan refinery and terminal when complete.

The refinery will be equipped with a 4GW power plant. Using a steam cycle technology firing on Arabian crude oil, the power plant will have the capacity to provide for the power needs of the Economic City with excess capacity to be sold to the grid.

The desalination plant will be able to provide about 500,000 cubic meters per day of potable water to cater to the internal requirements of the Economic City as well as to supply to the distribution network. The development is set to be complete within the next few seasons.

Another large infrastructure development within the refinery area is the state-of-the-art port that is being built. Once completed, the port will become a world class centre of trade, with contact points spanning multiple continents.

Back in the city centre, design work is happening on the commercial business district. The business district will mix high quality business addresses with conventional facilities and business hotels. This will act as a regional anchor for business activities.

Aramco have decided that commercial, residential, community and industrial components will be arranged in graduating concentric circles with the regional business hub to form the core of the city. The commercial component is ringed by residential, community and industrial components respectively in graduating circular belts. The primary industries are situated southwards with an internal utility corridor connecting the proposed road to Jazan city. The secondary industries are between the primary industry and high-tech industry near the workers’ housing.

Although infrastructure is hugely important to the progress of JEC, the human development aspect of the city has, and will continue to be, at the centre of the build. The city is gearing towards an integrated learning environment, with ample staff and student accommodation, vocational institutions, and colleges situated in close proximity to the industries and businesses themselves.

Aramco are planning to build a business complex comprised of quality modern office spaces that overlook the sea. The residential section of the city will offer premium quality educational institutions, a series of retail and food and beverage outlets, cultural and religious places of learning, and sports and leisure grounds. All accommodation will be contemporary and practical, and shall include a series of amenities. The aim is to provide future workers with a complete and inclusive environment. This will encourage a highly-capable and qualified workforce who are readily available. Employers will draw primarily from the area’s youth, to fill jobs in all stages of the project.

Mr. Al-Falih said:

“The Saudi Aramco — TVTC alliance is an innovative strategic partnership with the refinery project’s contractors to train and employ 5,000 young people from Jazan in various construction-related professions and crafts over four years.  Longer term, we aspire for the number of jobs available in Jazan to reach 75,000”.

The city aims to attract and retain the workforce, keep them motivated and engaged in learning, and ensure productivity of generations to come. This progressive arrangement will secure work, facilitate growth, and ultimately, feed back into the economy of the region.

With a vast assortment of industries, JEC is expected to attract local and expatriate talents. Workers will be required to fill temporary and permanent roles within the city, and contracts will be issued and reviewed as time goes on.

The powerful city is expected to be complete by 2037.