Saudi Arabia expects 8 million pilgrims by 2010

Published June 14th, 2009 - 07:16 GMT

Pilgrims visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Medina to perform Umrah and Haj are expected to reach 8 million by next year according to recent Saudi government figures. The demand from the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will undoubtedly drive real estate growth not only in the holy cities, but also in the gateway city of Jeddah.

Deep Marwaha, Event Director of Cityscape Saudi Arabia, which opens today (Sunday 14 June) at the Jeddah Center for Forums and Events, said, “It is easy to understand why investors are so keen to support developments in and around Makkah, Medina and the commercial hub of Jeddah. First of all, demand is insatiable, with visas for the Haj season now restricted.”

Last year a record 1.73 million foreign pilgrims performed Haj and it is interesting to note that in addition to overseas pilgrims there are approximately 750,000 Saudi pilgrims, according to government figures.

“Secondly the return on investment is virtually guaranteed and risk free. Room rates at the Makkah Hilton Towers which overlooks the Haram can reach 30,000 SAR per night during peak periods. Also much of the land that surrounds the holy sites is being developed and the property market is now attracting timeshare and end users, as well as professional investors,” added Marwaha.

Saudi Arabia's real estate sector now contributes an estimated 5.1%, or SAR 55 billion, to the kingdom's GDP, with forecasts for further growth of 5.8% by the end of this year. To underscore the sheer size of the real estate sector in Saudi Arabia, according to a study carried out by Proleads research house for Cityscape Saudi Arabia, in total throughout the Kingdom, there are 812 active projects in real estate, leisure and entertainment and infrastructure sectors with a total budget of $543 billion.

“However, it’s not just about residential or commercial real estate, commented Marwaha. “Last year 1.5 million pilgrims arrived by air, 131,000 by land, and nearly 23,000 by sea. So the demand for infrastructure (roads, airports, port upgrades as well as hospitals and clinics) is also immense and holds tremendous opportunities especially for public-private partnerships.”

Cityscape Saudi Arabia is aimed at regional and international investors, real estate developers, government and development authorities, architects, designers, consultants and senior professionals involved in the real estate industry. It will also be an arena to showcase projects and network with investors and developers from around the world.


The Cityscape Real Estate Awards will take place tonight (14 June) and are aimed at recognising exemplary contributions to architecture and real estate development in the Kingdom. The winners will be declared at a gala dinner attended by senior executives and high profile guests.


More than 100 companies are expected to exhibit at Cityscape Saudi Arabia over 10,000 square metres of floor space, attracting over 5,000 participants, making it the Kingdom’s premier real estate investment and development event. As well as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, Cityscape events are also staged in Mumbai, Singapore, New York and Brazil.


Principal sponsor of Cityscape Saudi Arabia is Sumou Holding; founding sponsor is Ewaan Global Housing; inaugural sponsor is Aqarat Real Estate Development Company; gold sponsor is Manazel; silver sponsors are Dar Al Tamleek and Norr Group Consultants. The conference investment sponsor is Shuaa Capital. Supporters are the Royal Incorporation of Chartered Surveyors of the UK; the European Public Real Estate Association; the Asian Public Real Estate Association; and the International Real Estate Federation. International media partner is CNN International and regional media partner is Al Arabiya.

© 2009 Al Bawaba (

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