When the largest economy in the Middle East announced its US $400 billion infrastructure investment plans, the perception was that Saudi Arabia would take a slow and steady approach. However, the increasing demand for power and utilities coupled with the strain on existing transport infrastructure is driving development goals faster, with the people in charge meeting on a regular basis with stakeholders and suppliers.
Dr. Hani Abu Ras, the recently appointed Mayor of Jeddah in March 2011, is gathering government procurement, engineering and planning personnel to meet with the world's foremost bridge construction companies in his city to help them hammer out partnerships required for the development of the sorely required new bridges and the urgent maintenance of existing ones. He also wants to improve the efficiency and quality of any existing projects in his city.
"I (have) requested daily reports on hurdles facing the execution of projects. I also plan to make weekly visits to the projects, especially in east Jeddah, to assess their progress,"His Excellency told Saudi newspapers from his new office at the municipality building in August of this year. Jeddah has a number of its own bridge, tunnel, road and park projects underway after last year's US $1.3 billion investment. Also a strategic focus and influence on these projects are the twin holy cities of Makkah and Medina given their location in relation to Jeddah.
Bridge development and maintenance has been highlighted by the numerous projects underway to provide one of the basic necessities to residents: easy access to urban areas. The launch of the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi underscored this, given the global attention it garnered from the construction industry. With the focus now shifting to Saudi Arabia, the global bridge construction series of peer-led gatherings by the International Quality & Productivity Center (IQPC) decided to establish one of its forums in Jeddah, where His Excellency Dr. Hani Abu Ras will be highlighting the city and Kingdom's plans.