chi-riyadh Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, is transforming under the government’s Saudi Vision 2030 plan. The new Metro under construction will use renewable energy, as will new sustainable housing communities.

CHICAGO—Global Business Ventures, a Chicago-based consortium of US and Saudi Arabian business leaders, recently took a big step in its effort to transform the daily lives of people in Saudi Arabia. Last week, GBV officials joined representatives from the US Chamber of Commerce and Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority in Washington, DC, for the presentation of its SAGIA business license – which signals the start of serious planning for a mixed-use community with as many as 25,000 housing units and one million square feet of commercial space just north of Riyadh.

Dense, amenity-rich communities of this kind are the cutting edge of real estate development in the US and other advanced industrial countries, but in oil-rich Saudi Arabia such projects are unknown. However, the decline of oil prices is leading the Saudis to rethink how they organize the country. Government planners recently unveiled Saudi Vision 2030, a blueprint to decrease the nation’s reliance on energy exports by encouraging manufacturing and energy efficiency. And the country aims to not just boost productivity and foreign investment, but to transform society in fundamental ways, and that means housing will have to change.

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Brian J. Rogal

Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.

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