The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and the 13th largest nation in the world, with an area of approximately 2.15 million square metres, covering 80 per cent of the Arabian Peninsula. Here, RLI takes a look at the key retail projects recently completed and currently under construction across the Kingdom.

Since its establishment in September 1932, the Kingdom has poured its considerable financial resources into a series of large-scale economic development, diversification and modernisation initiatives. According to Oxford Business Groups’ ‘The Report: Saudi Arabia 2019’ the Kingdom has attracted international attention for the momentum of its socio-economic transformation, taking place under the auspices of the Vision 2030 development blueprint.

Red Sea Coast

Vision 2030 sets out sweeping regulatory, budget and social reforms that will be implemented over the coming decade as the nation sets about curbing its reliance on crude oil production and export, which accounted for 43.5 per cent of GDP in 2018. Business Wire highlights that the Saudi Arabian retail market has been segmented into central, west, east, south and north regions. Among these regions, the Central region is the largest demand generating region in the country’s retail market, due to the strong presence of key market players in the region. Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, which is present in the Central region, has seen more significant transformation than other cities or regions. Riyadh has become the central hub for new technologies and latest creations.

Some of the major players operating in the Saudi Arabian retail market are Panda Retail Co (Savola Group), Lulu Group International (EMKE Group), Abdullah Al Othaim Markets Co., Fawaz Abdulaziz AlHokair Co., and Majid Al Futtaim Retail LLC, among others. Located in the wider Ajdan Waterfront development in Saudi Arabia’s coastal city of Al Khobar, the Benoy-designed, recently opened Ajdan Walk offers an urban oasis featuring a cultural and retail programme. Embracing its location, as it’s set along the main Al Ameer Road, the scheme focuses on providing a comfortable, pedestrian-friendly environment, and maintains strong links to the corniche along the country’s Gulf coast. Spanning 17,000sq m, the development includes open-air food and beverage outlets, shopping outlets, water features and public areas.


Also completed last year was the second expansion of the Red Sea Mall of Jeddah, owned by Red Sea Markets Company Ltd. The expansion, which took place in three phases, included a smart parking building, the expansion of gates 1, 2 and 3 and the Plaza containing cinemas. The total area of the new expansion is 8,000sq m including a retail space of 500sq m, and areas for cinemas, children’s entertainment and other facilities and services. The expansion project also includes seating and a shaded area. The overall mall is one of the largest in Jeddah with 521 shops.

King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) is the largest privately-funded new city in the world. Situated on the west coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, KAEC covers an area of 181 square kilometres of land, approximately the size of Washington DC. KAEC comprises King Abdullah Port, the Coastal Communities residential districts, the Haramain Railway district and the Industrial Valley. The city is under development by Emaar, The Economic City, a publicly listed Saudi joint-stock company established in 2006. The first phase of the project was actually completed back in 2010, but overall completion is some way off for the time being, with only about 40 per cent of the project having been developed to date.

Al Akaria Saudi Real Estate Company and Triple Five Worldwide have joined forces to develop a $5bn shopping mall in Saudi Arabia’s capital. Al Akaria, which is partly owned by the government of Saudi Arabia, said it has partnered with Triple Five’s subsidiary Arabian Dream KSA to develop the world’s largest mixed-use entertainment and shopping centre at Al Akaria’s Al Widyan site in Riyadh. The developed site will comprise theme parks, water parks, recreational and sports facilities, retail dining, shopping centres and hospitality components. The Al Widyan site, which spreads over seven million square metres, is being designed and developed as a fully-integrated mixed-use development and leisure destination. First phase launch of the Al Widyan project is targeted to take place in the first half of 2020.


Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) Development Management Organisation was established with Nicholas Naples, CEO, tasked with developing the integrative destination for wellness and the arts, Amaala. The initial seed funding will be provided by the PIF. Private sector companies and market investors will be invited to invest in the project as well as operate the project’s facilities. The Amaala project is expected to commence construction in 2020, with the first phase of the project planned to be completed by Q4 2020, with all phases completed by 2028. Amaala will feature a dedicated airport, 2,500 luxury hotel rooms, 200 retail establishments, art galleries, marinas and 700 villas will be developed.

Being positioned as one of the biggest malls in Saudi Arabia and also the GCC region upon its completion in December 2020, King Avenue Mall will occupy 12.5ha and house youth and family hubs, hotels, a central plaza, entertainment areas, food courts and large retail outlets showcasing global brands. The overall structure of the mall is elliptical in shape, giving the building a majestic appearance. Currently due to be inaugurated in 2022 and being developed by Shomoul Holding Company – part of Mabanee, The Avenues Riyadh project is set to become the largest leisure and commercial destination in the Kingdom.

The first design and construction phase of the project has been awarded to Nesma & Partners Contracting Company in a $1.6bn deal. The first construction phase of The Avenues – Riyadh entails building a fully-fledged mall, with parking lots, gardens, and internal roads. The project is anticipated to become a new retail icon in Saudi Arabia and the region thanks to its innovative shopping and entertainment offerings, services, and hospitality concepts that support Saudi Vision 2030 and set a new global standard for a delightful recreational experience. Upon full completion, the project will cover an area of 1.9 million square metres, and will feature a shopping mall with an area of 400,000sq m and more than 1,300 stores, in addition to five towers with commercial and residential facilities and four hotels.

Qiddiya, a project being backed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and developed by Qiddiya Investment Company is an entertainment megaproject to be established in Riyadh that commenced construction at the beginning of last year. Composed of five primary projects, these include resorts, parks and a city centre. Phase one will be opened in 2023 and will feature “Six Flags Qiddiya” as a family attraction. Located 40km from Riyadh, Qiddiya will be more than twice the size of Walt Disney World Orlando in Florida, US. Set to be unveiled in Q1 2025, Mall of Saudi will be the Kingdom’s flagship destination for retail, leisure and entertainment, offering Saudi Arabia’s most prestigious stores as well as new brands making their debut in the market.

Mall of Saudi will represent the next generation in integrated shopping, entertainment and dining. Designed as a lifestyle venue, the mall will contain the most recognisable brands in retail, from fashion and home styling to electronics. Being developed by Majid Al Futtaim, the mall will feature 296,000sq m of GLA, over 600 stores, 10,300 parking spaces, 33,200sq m dedicated dining space, a five-star luxury hotel with over 275 rooms, a 9,500sq m Carrefour hypermarket and a 40,000sq m indoor ski slope and snow park. The master-planned layout and luxury concept stores will be the ultimate in accessibility and curation. This ambitious vision will deliver seamless transitions from the shopping experience to a wide variety of food and beverage options and a mix of entertainment venues.

Qiddiya – Riyadh

Set to be an urban marvel, Jeddah Economic City is being lined strategically along the coastline of the Red Sea and designed to embody a new point of view in what a mega city is all about. Planned to occupy a spectacular area of 5.3 million square meters of land, the Jeddah Economic City is envisioned to reflect a new era in urban development and living, providing the inhabiting community with all that is needed in amenities, facilities, residential quarters, business areas in shops and commercial centres, in addition to diplomatic quarters. The Jeddah Economic City will also be renowned for its substantial shopping areas, intricately dispersed throughout the city. The shopping areas are carefully designed within the City grid, laced with the convenience of restaurants, cafes, public parks, in addition to the routes connecting them, resulting in the perfect shopping experience to all commuters, tourists, visitors, and business people alike. The estimated completion is currently set for 2025.

A project that emerged from Saudi Vision 2030 and one of four giga-projects currently under construction in the Kingdom, NEOM is a planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province of north-western Saudi Arabia. Backed by more than $500bn over the coming years by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, as well as local and international investors, NEOM’s contribution to the Kingdom’s GDP is projected to reach at least $100bn by 2030, in addition to its per capita GDP is projected to be one of the highest in the world. NEOM will include towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations. It will be the home and workplace for more than a million citizens from around the world and the first phase is due to complete in 2025.