On 21 September 1975, The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY) was established as an autonomous organisation of the Saudi Arabian Government. From day one, its mission was made very clear: to plan, promote, develop and manage petrochemicals and energy intensive industrial cities through successful customer focus and partnerships with investors, employees, communities and other stakeholders. These industrial cities are Jubail, Yanbu and the newest project Ras Al-Khair.

When it was founded, the Royal Commission outlined a set of objectives which have underpinned its focus to this day. In essence, those objectives sought to raise the profiles of Jubail and Yanbu and put them on the map as areas ripe for foreign investment; encourage private sector investment in the regions; and develop the cities from both a human and environmental perspective.   

A focus on Jubail

Jubail Industrial City is a Saudi model that tells the story of planning combined with the will to achieve the comprehensive civic and industrial development seen today at all local, regional and international levels.

There is no doubt that the advanced infrastructure of Jubail is the cornerstone which has allowed the various industrial, commercial and social sectors to establish themselves through integrated action. Jubail infrastructure has the capability to operate continuously without failure of power or supplies in any of the existing facilities while meeting community requirements within modern, high living standards where all the necessities of life and tourist and recreational facilities are available. However, there is still work to be done to upgrade and expand the infrastructure to allow the private sector to participate in the growth and development of the city.

Additionally, Jubail has been able to attract the necessary Saudi operations and maintenance manpower, which has in turn, led to the establishment of a community from the various areas in Saudi Arabia. Jubail is indeed the result of Insights of the wise leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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The making of a modern city

In the city, the main development focus is on energy projects and subsequent infrastructure management. In recent years there has been a huge emphasis on innovation from an energy standpoint that has led to greater efficiency and sustainability for the city now and in the future. 

In the next 12 months, there is no sign that the innovation trend is slowing. In fact Jubail continues with its year-on-year growth as reflected in the number of projects completed in engineering, awarded in procurement, and delivered to construction for execution. At the end of 2014, there were a total of 99 active contracts in various stages of construction with a combined value of $5.3 billion. Out of those 99 projects, 22 were contracts being undertaken in Ras Al Khair and 47 were contracts under preparation in both cities. 

“Jubail Industrial City is rapidly growing in all directions, based on the Master Plan Strategy, towards a complete sustainable city,” explains Eng. Ahmed Al-Balawi General Manager of Technical Affairs. “The Industrial area will be expanded to accommodate an industrial and logistics hub. We are also working with the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) on the development of a rail network, which will support industries and the supply chain.” 

However development is not just underway from an industrial perspective, work has also commenced in three community districts that will be developed to accommodate 150,000 residents and that will provide 27,000 housing units, including all associated amenities to address the population growth. This will represent a growth of 100 percent, in comparison with the current residential footprint. 

Alongside this, the Jubail University College mega project will provide better education opportunities for future generations and will enable the Royal Commission to achieve its goal of fostering a knowledge-based, educated and innovative society. It is hoped that the city centre development, which is under construction today, will attract major corporate offices, provide a variety of needs for city residents, and improve the image of the city, while contributing to the economy and long-term diversification.

But Jubail is not the only city in the spotlight as Eng. Al-Balawi explains: “In Ras Al Khair, we also achieved significant momentum after awarding three major development contracts, and are on the right path to meet the schedule that was presented to the Royal Commission leadership in 2010.The recently opened road between the two industrial cities, with its excellent quality, was a significant and important milestone that was appreciated by all stakeholders involved,” he says. 

“In our journey, we have kept safety and quality as our prime focus. This year we have achieved a record of 13.8 million safe man-hours. With a contractor work force of around 20,000 spread over 200 sites and a large worker turnover.”

Building a smarter city

So what does it mean to be a truly sustainable city? Innovation, IT and data services certainly play a vital role, as Eng. Al Balawi explains: “We think the most innovative aspect of the industrial city is long term city planning which helps us meet future demand. From an IT perspective in particular, the civil infrastructure of duct banks with future provision has simplified the installation of a fibre optic network.”

It goes without saying that in today’s highly connected world, a robust telecommunications network is going to be central to winning ‘smart city’ status. “Recently we have completed the replacement of the telecommunication networks across the city and many residential and industrial areas have been equipped with fibre optic. However, a smart city is not just about installing fibre optic cables - it is a much wider concept, which involves providing comprehensive infrastructure and services to business and the community as a whole,” says Eng. Al-Balawi. 

Introducing the district cooling concept 

As well as bringing technological advances to within the city walls, the Royal Commission has also introduced a district cooling concept, which is currently in development. The aim of the new cooling system is to improve power consumption across the city, while also allowing high density and diverse usage to occur. For example, the new system will allow cold storage of energy to avoid energy outages during peak hours. Arising from this concept, the city hopes to attract new industries and foreign investors to the area. 

The Royal Commission has set a goal to raise the standard of the three cities in a wholesome and all inclusive way. Not content with papering over any cracks, every detail has been considered, no matter how large or small. Robust infrastructure, technological innovation, sustainable development and social considerations have set Jubail, Yanbu and Ras Al-Khair in good stead to flourish now and in the future.

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