Saudi Arabia is a legacy nation by spirit, history and culture. The depth of its philosophy, the beauty of its nature is unparalleled with a perfect ambiance to generate art and architecture. Straight from the heart of antiquity and modernity the scope and breadth for producing the worlds finest is right here. From the enigmatic Jabal Qarah to 5000 square kilometers of the Farasan Islands, there is much ado in the Kingdom with a variance of ecology and character that sets a platform of creativity unmatched in the region.
Born of this raw natural prowess is a history of urbanity and architecture blended with nature. Saudi is the natural place for architecture as a part of nature, an opportunity for architects to produce designs that respect nature and build ecosystems that carry the very signature of nature within it, natural birth instead of synthetic dogma. However, this process requires science and deep dives into various disciplines of knowledge from archaeology to spirituality. Saudi must choose carefully the talents that are assigned to take its mission forward.
Brave a mission it is, as the challenges are many and far-reaching. From project initiation to development and execution, the mission has its challenges and rough edges which will manifest itself as a pause and run track as fresh ideas, the input of scientists, architects and technocrats move the development through its multitude of phases.
The question however remains, how can we harness the power of Saudi without disturbing Saudi. This is a delicate balance to say the least as we still have much to hash out when it comes to the preservation of culture and heritage and their translation into contemporary dialect.
Saudi is no new player to integrated development as national corporations like Aramco has set benchmarks and standards both in project development and management by successfully setting in motion the oil and gas mega-corp from unassuming Dahran. Aramco remains a testimonial on how a traditional corporate can break global ground.
As the projects evolve and begin to increase momentum, care must be taken to mitigate risk and develop models that have built-in economic imperatives. Like the desert teaches us to save water we must also learn to save economy, designs must be cost-effective, functional, performing at high-efficiency and producing assets that linger. Project development must be risk-averse and running not only at optimal capacities but interacting with downstream execution parameters on a dynamic and cost-reiterative basis.
Taking all of the above into sync, it would be great to see more philosophy, more practicality and perhaps more thought leadership within the corporates themselves. There seems to be quite sparse communication between the autonomous entities charged with the mega and giga initiatives, perhaps individual think tanks that are active and connected on a common platform will augment the execution process.
The other aim of any development agenda is FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). FDI can happen in many ways, from the implementation of EPCF and BOT type engagements to equity escalation and future forward investment initiatives. Saudi is a safe haven for investors whether regional or global, institutional or individual. Economic growth is steady, investment climate is delivery oriented and backed by a significant oil and now rapid development economy.
As they say the desert here changes within its stillness, the perfect paradigm for the Saudi national agenda that we are witnessing now as the kingdom takes charge of modernity while preserving its culture and heritage. There will come a point in the not too distant the future where Saudi will flip into a destination that masterfully blends the ancient with the ultracontemporary, and we will be hard pressed to find a similar place in the region. The current leadership has brought wings to the nation with its unprecedented plans and initiatives. This is truly a formative period, a trajectory that has begun to erupt in opportunity for science and technology, art and architecture.