The Kingdom of Saudia Arabia is is in the midst of one of the world’s largest construction booms, driven by large state-financed projects. An estimated $784 billion worth of construction projects are currently underway, and construction has shown the highest growth of any economic sector in the Kingdom outside oil.
Housing is a top priority as the Kingdom is facing a major housing shortage as it struggles to keep up with a rapidly expanding urban population. But other large projects in the capitol city of Riyadh include a subway system (with hopes to alleviate oppressive traffic jams) and the new King Abdullah Financial District (currently rising up from the desert). In early 2015, the Saudi government approved a proposal to tax vacant land in urban areas, a policy expected to further promote new construction.
Walking (or more likely driving) through the streets of Riyadh today, the boom is impossible to miss. Skeletons of skyscrapers tower on the horizon and rows of newly-constructed suburban housing blocks line the highways. The “crazed bodkin”, as Will Self described it, of the Kingdom Centre appears like the gateway to another world, or perhaps just a view into a future that is fast approaching.