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Jeddah Free Trade City

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Urban Land Middle East article describing Jeddah Free Trade City

Urban Land Middle East article describing Jeddah Free Trade City

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  • 1. In the southwestern part of this SDZ and abutting the port is roughly 19.4 million square feet (1.8 million sq m) of undeveloped, con- taminated land identified by developer Ziyad Zaidan as ideal for the Jeddah Free Trade City (JFTC). According to Zaidan, this privately funded project will be a “one-window B2B [business-to-business] trading gateway to the Islamic world” through which manufac- turers and suppliers worldwide will be able to sell efficiently into Muslim countries around the world. Zaidan is a visionary for new towns and communities in Saudi Arabia, seeing sustain- able development opportunities in the deterio- rating environment. Born in Mecca, he earned bachelor and master of arts degrees in ar- chitecture from the University of Detroit, then a doctorate in new town development from L’Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. In 1975, he established in Saudi Arabia the M U R P H Y / JA H N IDEA Center, a conventional architecture and engineering consultancy, which by 1991 had evolved into his development company, IDEA Network. He later set up EcoVisions as a divi- sion of the company to push the boundaries of green design, to maximize the use of inte- grated environment technologies, and to pro- vide practical solutions to the full spectrum of global environmental concerns. With a total of 15 million annual Hajj and Ummrah pilgrims coming through Jeddah ev- ery year, the city ranks fifth worldwide in num- ber of visitors. Saudi Arabia has come under increasing political pressure to dramatically increase its capacity to accommodate the world’s rapidly expanding Muslim population. In response, it has begun a massive national infrastructure improvement program to increase airport capacity by opening the Madinah airport to international flights, and by dramatically ex- panding Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International The Mecca province of Saudi Arabia is International Airport, and the preservation and Airport. A high-speed intercity rail network will undergoing extensive urban regeneration, development of Jeddah’s historic Old Town, Al link Madinah, Jeddah, Mecca, and Riyadh, and surpassing by far the building boom of the Balad, for which King Abdullah has approved intracity monorails will link the centers of these 1970s. Many of the new development proj- a SAR3.5 billion ($935 million) grant. cities to high-speed rail hubs. Major develop- ects contributing to this boom were show- Between the Old Town on the east and the ments are also underway to increase the capac- cased recently at an exhibition in Jeddah, for- port on the west, a dilapidated urban area of 64.6 ity and capability of the holy cities to deal with mally opened by the custodian of the two holy million square feet (6 million sq m) near the cen- the massive influx of people during the annual mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. Key ter of the city has been designated by the Jeddah Hajj—their organization, movement, safety, ac- to this regeneration are the expansion of the municipality for redevelopment and approved as commodation, feeding, and medical care. Stud- Jeddah Islamic Port and the King Abdul Aziz a special development zone (SDZ) by the king. ies project that by 2015 to 2020, 60 million or
  • 2. more religious tourists could be visiting Saudi La Défense, and New York City’s Manhattan, Arabia annually, and they will all make the trip Zaidan says. through Jeddah. Many will be businessmen and “JFTC offers a unique opportunity for a to- businesswomen. tally integrated community of commerce, busi- By the time the JFTC is operating in 2014 ness, and housing for a permanent and tran- or 2015, the rail lines linking Jeddah, Madi- sient community,” say Helmut Jahn, architect nah, Mecca, and Riyadh will be established of Jedhattan. “Built in phases, the master and a new rail terminal will be shared with plan allows for incremental yet self-contained the port. In addition, a major station for Jed- units, served by an infrastructure matrix for dah’s monorail will be integrated into the pro- service, waste management, recycling, and ject, effectively linking it directly to the airport transportation.” and other parts of the inner city. The ground level will be heavily land- With spiritual obligation bringing millions scaped with natural and built elements pro- and millions of religious tourists to the JFTC’s viding shade for pedestrian movement and doorstep, the project has been conceived by encouraging connectivity. The 300-by-300-foot EcoVisions to serve and capitalize on this ex- (90-by-90 m) parcels will allow construction of ceptional global customer base. Trade, a efficient, tall towers with multiple uses orga- mainstay of Jeddah dating back to pre-Islamic nized around large atriums, intended to help days, has progressively increased since the create vertical communities. advent of Islam and the Hajj and Ummrah rit- The second zone, Jeddah Circle, will be uals. The JFTC intends to build on this tradi- the host environment and base for service in- tion with three cross-pollinating development dustries supporting trade. Using the theme of M U R P H Y / JA H N zones: an international exhibition and trading various Islamic cultures and integrating their hub; a pilgrimage-targeted hospitality, mer- respective styles, food, and ways of life, Jed- chandising, and entertainment center; and a dah Circle will be geared to welcome Hajj and digital village training center focused on edu- Ummrah pilgrims. It will be compliant with A privately funded project proposed for a dilapidated urban cating women through digital technologies for shari’a—Islamic law—and employ state-of-the- area near the center of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Jeddah Free Trade City will consist of three zones (below). Zone one, meaningful roles in the nation’s workforce. art, user-friendly technologies to provide in- Jedhattan, will be an international exhibition and trading hub; The trading center, called Jedhattan, will formation, as well as cultural and educational zone two, Jeddah Circle, will be a hospitality, merchandising, house a permanent business-to-business ex- entertainment to show how Islam spread his- and entertainment center; and zone three will be a training hibition and conference center where interna- center. Jedhattan (site plan, above; model, facing page) is torically through trade and commerce. Visitors being designed by Chicago-based Murphy/Jahn Architects. tional trade and commercial delegations from will be taught about and reminded of the his- around the world will promote, exhibit, and sell their nations’ goods. A total of 54 million square feet (5 million sq m) of Class A multi- use, high-rise development will take shape on a 2.2 million-square-foot (200,000-sq-m) foot- print to accommodate these delegations and their customers, as well as other commerce- Zone-1 Special related businesses and institutions and their Development supporting activities. Zone With its strategic position on the Red Sea, Area Integral To Jedhattan has been conceived by Zaidan to be JFTC Vision the most effective and efficient means for for- eign manufacturers to import goods into Saudi Arabia, and for these goods in turn to be dis- tributed within the kingdom and exported JFTC Development to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Mid- Zone-2 Area dle East/North Africa (MENA) countries and, ultimately, to southeastern Europe and sub- Zone-3 Saharan Africa. Jedhattan was strongly in- MURPHY/JAHN fluenced by iconic international urban set- tings such as London’s Canary Wharf, Paris’s
  • 3. tory and significance of the holy places and the performance of the Hajj and Ummrah rituals in Mecca and Madinah. Another vital feature will be specialized medical facilities and hospitals. The third zone will be a digital village training center focused on educating women through digital technologies. Training will in- clude the administration and management of the whole of the Jeddah Free Trade City, simi- lar in concept to a hotel’s back-of-house func- tion, but at a much larger scale. Along with a new women’s college, the zone will include teaching, residential, and administration buildings and provide the technologies that will be employed for Jeddah Circle. The Jeddah Free Trade City will be targeted at the following sectors: M U R P H Y / JA H N Muslim countries that want to increase and streamline trade with other Muslim countries; Western European, North American, Com- monwealth of Independent States, and Oce- Following two decades of decline, Jeddah for major investment in commerce, logistics, ania countries that currently trade with indi- is in a dramatic state of resurgence, and the hospitality, and entertainment. While Jeddah’s vidual Islamic countries in diverse locations JFTC is expected to act as a catalyst for the ur- urban scale has expanded tremendously in but would benefit from a central point or fo- ban revitalization and economic regenera- the last 35 years, the development of the cus of trade; tion of this ancient Arabian seaport. Adopt- city’s infrastructure and built environment Far Eastern countries whose product sales ing an international perspective, the project has proceeded haphazardly. In the same pe- into Muslim countries are significant, includ- is intended to create a new economic base riod, government and banking activities have ing China, which has seen sales expand ex- for Jeddah rather than compete within the ceased to serve their historical roles as driv- ponentially in recent years; and city’s existing economy. It will be an autono- ers of economic vitality for the city, and Jed- India, which would like to expand trade mous, self-contained, independent urban dis- dah’s traditional maritime trade connections with Muslim countries. trict containing all basic infrastructure, utili- have withered because of insufficient func- According to Zaidan, too many large-scale ties, networks, and other systems necessary tional links between Jeddah Islamic Port and projects in the Middle East have been con- to support high-quality urban living and thriv- the rest of the urban economy.” ceived in search of quick gains—launched ing international business activities. Resolving these and numerous other im- with much fanfare and adulation only to fail “This Jeddah Free Trade City project is portant urban issues that have plagued Jed- shortly thereafter because they have no sub- timely,” Monitor Group, a Cambridge, Massa- dah for decades, the project is seen as a vital stance beneath the surface. To avoid this, the chusetts–based private global management stimulant intended to trigger the city’s social, EcoVisions team has adapted innovative ap- consulting firm, reported in a September 2007 cultural, and economic revival, says Zaidan. proaches to large-scale land development for proposal for a feasibility study and implemen- By creating a new sustainable economic base the JFTC that incorporate investment banking tation strategy for the Jeddah Free Trade City. for Jeddah, the project will provide much- techniques and structured finance solutions to “Jeddah urgently requires modern urban com- needed employment across all social and establish, test, and verify optimal land uses. mercial space, while the broader region is ripe economic demographics for a rapidly expand- Physical and socioeconomic development have been matched to establish a sound founda- tion for the project. National economics, private sector profitability, socioeconomics, sociocul- tural elements, the environment, and regional and global relevance are all major factors when considering sustainability, and EcoVisions has brought them all to the table for the JFTC. The EcoVisions team has used the project as a plat- form from which to spin off profitable ongoing downstream business ventures.
  • 4. Jedhattan will include 54 million square feet (5 million sq m) of Class A multiuse, high-rise development (shown in early sketches, facing page, and models, left). A section through the city center (below) indicates the multiple connections among these striking urban forms. trast, the JFTC will have a permanent ongoing exhibition of its clients’ goods and services, which will be interlaced with special exhibits, conferences, and seminars presenting innova- tions and technology developments relating M U R P H Y / JA H N to its clients. Local sales agents will not be in- volved in resulting sales at JFTC. More impor- tant, Dubai’s customer base is, and always ing, well-educated young Saudi population effluent normally discarded not only to help will be, far smaller than the JFTC customer throughout the kingdom’s western region. create gardens and a green, urban oasis, but base, says Zaidan. The JFTC is expected to be a major economic also to support green roofs. These roofs will “This opportunity for growth and change driver in the revitalization of Jeddah’s central both constitute attractive gardens and help [offered by the JFTC] in Jeddah is part of a area and the restoration of the city’s historic cool the roofs, thereby conserving energy and broader context of socioeconomic develop- position as the kingdom’s commercial capital. reducing air-conditioning costs. Water pumped ment throughout the kingdom of Saudi Ara- The project will be coordinated with the devel- from deep in the sea where water is cool will bia and the Red Sea basin,” says the Moni- opment programs and priorities of municipal, be used to help create a comfortable micro- tor Group. “The ongoing progress of economic regional, and national governments to acceler- climate. Except for the cost of pumping, this development and material prosperity in Saudi ate local development and elicit support from saltwater resource is free and will be used in Arabia, driven by the rapid diversification and important regional players. hundreds of saltwater fountains and runnels. sophistication of economic activities, prom- As an EcoVisions project, JFTC will be en- The JFTC will have the two things hardest to ises to continue to create demand for com- vironmentally friendly. New ecotechnologies come by in the desert—plants and water. mercial, logistical, hospitality, and entertain- and concepts are being integrated on a city- Zaidan believes the JFTC has no true compet- ment services. Simultaneously, the growth of wide scale into the project’s design to achieve itor because of its strategic location on the Red King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh will in- low energy consumption and the smallest car- Sea and the size of its customer base. Although troduce Jeddah’s businesses to a diverse set bon footprint possible. Energy from wind, so- others might see Dubai, for example, as a com- of customers, suppliers, and competitors. lar power, biofuels, and recycled waste are petitor, Zaidan believes the emirate’s business More broadly, Jeddah is well positioned to being studied. Clean technologies such as hy- activities are fundamentally different from those serve as a connection between resources and drogen fuel cells will power transport of peo- configured for the JFTC. opportunity in the Red Sea basin and markets ple through the project using personal trans- Although both are engaged in annual in Europe and east Asia.” port systems and moving sidewalks to help trade-based business, Dubai’s business is achieve near-zero vehicle emissions. centered on short-term exhibits, and all trans- B IZZIE FROST Surrounded by water, the development will actions resulting from those exhibits are MICHAEL K ERB ER have its own sewage treatment plant and use passed through local sales agents. In con- MURPHY/JAHN Reprinted with permission from Urban Land Middle East, Spring 2009. Published by ULI-Urban Land Institute, 1025 Thomas Jefferson Street, N.W., Suite 500W, Washington, DC 20007-5201
  • 5. DEVELOPER: EcoVisions Division IDEA Network / www.idea-development.net / Email: infor@idea-development.net ARCHITECT: Murphy / Jahn

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