The £8.5bn city being built from scratch in the middle of a desert | World | News

January 28, 2024
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House-building is a constant priority for governments, but this country has taken civil engineering to a new level in what’s considered the largest city-building project ever. 

A titanic task undertaken by the authorities in Saudi Arabia, the Jubail II project costs an eye-watering £8.6 billion and has been in the works since 2005. 

Its second phase began in 2014, promising to deliver over 100 industrial plants alongside a mega oil refinery. 

Upon its completion, scheduled for 2024, the city will also including a whopping 530 miles of rail tracks and roads, more than double the length of the London Underground

It’s hoped that once the industrial city is finished, it will have doubled in size, despite already being the largest city in the Middle East prior to the new project. 

However, Jubail was not always a bustling industrial hub and its roots are much more humble than its glittering skyscrapers might suggest. 

Its origins lie in the old town of Al Jubail, a modest 18th Century fishing village. 

It remained a sleepy little dot on the map until 1975, when the Saudi authorities plumbed Jubail for a serious infrastructure makeover, promising to build an industrial metropolis from the sand up.

Now, Jubail is thriving. As many as 2,000 workers flock to the desert city, located in Saudi Arabia’s east, during peak season to work on construction. 

As much as 17% of the industrial city’s 600,000-strong population is made up of migrant workers, toiling day and night to raise the city up from the dust. 

Home to the largest petrochemical company in the Middle East, Jubail certainly packs a huge economic punch. It’s thought that it alone country or 7% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP, comparable to globally-recognised cities like Makkah and Riyadh. 



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