Cityscape, the major exhibition that gathers builders and buyers, planners, innovators, and financiers across all property sectors, had a remarkable 4-day run in Riyadh this week.
It was the debut of Cityscape Global in the Saudi capital, at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre at Malham The event saw more than 160,000 visitors from 170 countries and more than 10,000 international investors. More than 300 exhibitors filled three halls with their stands. Some 55% of these were international exhibitors and 45% were Saudi.
A warm welcome was given by H.E. Majid Al-Hogail, Saudi Minister of Municipal & Rural Affairs & Housing, to a gathered crowd on Sunday.
He remarked on the great size of the event, which reflected the scale of activity in Saudi Arabia today.
“In light of so many upcoming projects, we will focus on quality,” he said. He then alluded to the key factor of technology in the country’s development.
“We are proud in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of the unprecedented advancement of real estate technology,” he said. “It has paid off in accelerating construction and its quality.”
Chris Speller, vice president and global brand leader for Cityscape, speaking on behalf of conference organizer Tahaluf, put the first such global event in Saudi Arabia into perspective.
“After 22 years (in Dubai) we took a bold step to move to a new home in Riyadh,” he said.
“It is the largest property event of its kind in the world, and the largest Cityscape ever.”
It was indeed large, with exhibition, conference, summits and forums, and a ‘hackathon’ for dozens of young proptech innovators. Wide ranging discussion occurred across a Property Portfolio Forum, Real Estate Institutional Investor Forum, the PropTech stage, the Design and Architecture stage, and Women in Real Estate (WIRE) events.
Its energy reflected the remarkable new energy of the host country.
Indeed, the most remarkable thing on display may have been the country of Saudi Arabia itself, in the midst of remarkable transformations.
The big show came to Riyadh at an opportune time, as the capital city of a rapidly changing country, itself now undergoing major transformation.
Riyadh, like Saudi Arabia as a whole, is facing multiple challenges, with a growing population requiring more housing, new work and new economic opportunities. These arise as the Kingdom puts increasing focus upon the unprecedented challenge of transforming its basic economy in a worldwide energy transition.
By all appearances at Cityscape, the capital, and the country, are approaching these challenges boldly, deploying ‘giga-projects’ that combine new technology with environmental care.
Visitors enjoyed the dazzling giga-projects on display, including NEOM, and the Red Sea Project. But the country’s many less famous giga-projects were also on display, revealing their potentially powerful impact on Saudi Arabia’s development.
Perhaps most notable among the enormous scale models on the exhibit floors were new communities in Riyadh and the country’s other cities. They showed city districts already in advanced planning and under construction, promising comfortable, high amenity, walkable environments with wide choices of mid-range housing.
The largest exhibit belonged to Saudi Arabia’s National Housing Company (NHC), with floor-size models of its Khuzam and Al Forsan projects, each planned for 250,000 population. Sales were brisk, with apartments and townhouses available in mid- and higher price ranges.
The King Salman Park Foundation showed its remarkable plan for a large recreational and nature park on reclaimed land in the centre of Riyadh, with scale model and immersive experience. Construction is now underway.
ROSHN, owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), had a similarly large display of Sedra, its flagship project in Riyadh, billed as the city’s first ‘integrated community.’ Also on display were Alarous, Jeddah’s first integrated community, and Warefa, identified as Riyad’s second integrated community.
These taken together are indeed a giga-project, with the company building 395,000 homes, for 2.2 million people, providing 300,000-plus jobs, and planting 1 million trees! They are walkable, inspired by nature, history and culture.
The Jeddah Central Development Company, fully owned by PIF, showed why its site in Jeddah is special, with a large model and ‘digital twin’ display. The ‘digital twin’ shows three phases, six districts, four landmarks, a stadium for 45,000 spectators, an opera house near the sea, an oceanarium for aquatic research, and a museum on the reclaimed site of an old water desalination plant.
Work has begun on the planned 5.7 sq. km site, with phase one delivery expected in 2026. There is luxury and middle-income housing with a variety of homes.
Masar, a project owned and developed by Umm Alqura for Development and Construction, displayed a dense, well-designed urbanization along its core component King Abdulaziz Road. This 3.65 km long development zone through Makkah will have 205 towers, two underground metro and bus stations, and two train stations with high-speed rail connections to Medina. Construction is underway.