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Saudi Arabia plans new free economic zones in Jeddah

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A government committee is studying a proposal to close down Al-Jowharah Stadium and King Faisal Specialist Hospital north of Jeddah in order to open a free economic zone.

“The Ministry of Finance is skeptical about the decision of buying both properties but the Public Investment Fund (PIF) intends to buy the hospital, the stadium and the residential area near the stadium,” said a source.

A feasibility study assures that the free economic zone will compensate for the expense of both properties, SAR3.7 billion, in record time, said the source.

The government committee consisting of the royal court, the Ministry of Finance, the Public Investment Fund and the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs held its first meeting last week.

It concluded that if the Public Investment Fund buys both properties, the committee will begin to construct a sports city and a medical city, said the source.

The source also said the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) has already planned to build a free economic zone in the airports of Jeddah and Riyadh as part of its long-term plan to diversify the Kingdom’s economy.

The Council of Economic and Developmental Affairs and the Public Investment Fund are working on the free economic zone plan under the National Transformation Program 2020 to support the private sector.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 13, 2017.