Author: Gordon Platt

SUCCESSOR NAMED IN SAUDI ARABIA

By Gordon Platt

The death of crown prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia was followed with the naming of conservative prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, the interior minister, as king Abdullah’s successor.

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Vying for Saudi infrastructure projects

Nayef, in charge of the kingdom’s security forces, supported the suppression of protests in neighboring Bahrain earlier this year. Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, governor of Riyadh and half-brother of the king, was named as the new defense minister, a post Prince Sultan had held for 50 years.

Infrastructure development is expected to be a key focus for the Middle East over the next two decades, with its growing young population, and Kuwait should see the greatest infrastructure investment in the region, according to a recent report by RBS. Saudi Arabia, in fact, is constructing six cities from the ground up to meet housing and employment needs, notes the report.

Western construction and engineering firms are already looking to take advantage of this and win key infrastructure contracts in the region. Most recently, California engineering and construction firm Parsons was awarded a contract to design and oversee construction of hundreds of thousands of new homes in Saudi Arabia. The contract, for an undisclosed amount, was the first to be awarded by the kingdom’s ministry of housing as part of the government program to build 500,000 houses in 11 regions of the country in the next few years. The initiative, valued at more than $67 billion, is part of the $130 billion spending program announced by Saudi Arabia’s king Abdullah earlier this year in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings in the region.

In Bahrain a $2.5 billion contract to build a Four Seasons Hotel at Bahrain Bay was awarded to Belgium’s Six Construct, the same company that helped build the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, which is the world’s tallest building.