BOVIS LEND LEASE, the construction group, has teamed up with the British architect behind London’s “erotic gherkin” office skyscraper on a billion (£7.4 billion) plan to build 750,000 new homes in Saudi Arabia.
The pair are working with Saudi Construction Group, a new company backed by some of the Kingdom’s richest businessmen, to develop a huge site about three miles outside the capital, Riyadh. The backers plan to float the group — which could be worth about £1 billion — in London or Riyadh by the middle of next year.
The company is the brainchild of Saif Durbar, a broker to Saudi billionaires investing in Europe, Paul Bloomfield, the veteran property dealmaker, and Sheikh Faisal al-Sharif, chairman of DGI, a company that is researching a billion (£1.1 billion) petrochemicals plant in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Construction Group is designed to cash in on the Saudi Government’s plans to provide a home for every Saudi citizen. The Saudi Government believes that there is a need for between three and four million new homes over the next ten to fifteen years.
The oil-rich country currently houses more than 26 million people but is one of the world’s fastest-growing countries.
Foster & Partners, the architect behind Swiss Re’s landmark office building near the Tower of London, dubbed the “erotic gherkin” will create a master-plan for the huge housing settlement. The site totals seven million square metres and will accommodate about 750,000 new homes.
Bovis Lend Lease will be the lead contractor for the project, which will cost between billion and billion and will be worth between billion and billion when complete.
Foster & Partners is keen to create a ground-breaking development that provides new high standards of modern living in Saudi Arabia.
Foster & Partners has created some of the world’s most impressive modern architecture, including the glass dome over Berlin's Reichstag, Hong Kong’s airport and Bilbao’s new Metro. Nigel Hugill, the former managing director of Chelsfield, the property company formed by Elliott Bernerd, was instrumental in getting Bovis Lend Lease involved with the Saudi housing project.
Mr Durbar, who helped to set up the Saudi Construction Group, is a low-profile Middle Eastern businessman who has helped to fund a string of property development projects in Britain and mainland Europe, including Palm Beach, a casino and hotel complex outside Cannes. He lost a billion fortune in 1995 on a bond deal that went wrong.