Saudi family businesses set for growth with PIF and governance support

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RIYADH: Riyadh will witness a surge in the entertainment, leisure and tourism sectors, with Diriyah Co. aiming to break ground on 11 new assets by the end of 2024.

In the first step toward this endeavor, the company signed two agreements on the sidelines of the Public Investment Fund’s Private Sector Forum. 

Speaking to Arab News, Diriyah Co. Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo outlined that the firm’s agreement worth SR700 million ($186 million) with Saudi Constructioneers Ltd., known as Saudi Co., entails the development of the Ritz-Carlton residences.

The second deal, worth SR2 billion, was inked with Al-Ayuni Investment and Contracting Co. for infrastructure development. 

Inzerillo affirmed that this is a testament to the fact that the company is “moving very, very fast along” and will open assets, announce and break ground every year “until we pull off the most spectacular EXPO the world has seen in 2030.”

The executive said that among the 11 upcoming initiatives in 2024 is the King Salman Boulevard, which he deemed Saudi Arabia’s version of Paris’ Champs-Elysees. It will be revealed this December.

“This will have a new contemporary art museum, one of the most beautiful museums in the world. Our version of the Sydney Opera House, the new King Salman Mosque. It will take a while to build it but we will show that blueprint in December of this year,” he said. 

In December of each year, the company holds its “Bashayer” event to announce its upcoming initiatives. The last meeting saw the unveiling of the Diriyah Art Futures museum, which the executive noted will “have its first exhibit shortly.”

Since then, the company has opened 9 km of parks in order to “fulfill His Royal Highness (the crown prince’s) vision of having all Saudis outside enjoying the weather, bicycling, horseback riding, skateboarding, walking, jogging, even picnicking with families. So we did nine km of parks. We’ve planted 6 million trees and bushes and shrubs in the wadi, all with smart city technology and we opened up our community center,” said Inzerillo. 

He added: “We opened up our sales center for the residences, and we already put 106 of our new Ritz-Carlton villas on sale, which sold very well. We introduced our new Wadi Spa residential community in what is for our district. We finished nine of the 27-hole golf course, the Greg Norman Golf Course, so we did a lot in one year. Wait to see what we do by this December.”

Outlining the importance of the private sector in bringing giga-projects like Diriyah to fruition, Inzerillo recapped that while the government will fund these projects “to get them going,” the commercial opportunities available through these projects around the Kingdom are “quite substantial.”

Thus, this year, the company intends to allocate more than $3 billion in contracts, predominantly focusing on the infrastructure and design engineering fields, as mentioned during his participation in a panel discussion at the forum.

Furthermore, he noted that several significant projects would be listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange, Tadawul, “at some particular point,” adding that Diriyah has mainly garnered “very good private sector support” from Saudi and Gulf countries. 

“Assets that have high commercial returns, hotels, restaurants, retail, residential, we’re seeing great interest from the private sector,” he said.