$200bn two-continent project launched
Djibouti, August 8, 2008
A $200 billion project, which will link two continents, has been launched in Djibouti.
The ambitious Al Noor City project will serve as a catalyst for regional economic growth and contribute to the development of the Gulf economy, officials have revealed.
It will include futuristic cities on either side of the Red Sea and linking them via a road and rail bridge.
The geographical location of Al Noor Cities in Djibouti and Yemen make them obvious trade and distribution hubs that will link major trade routes through Africa, the Middle East and beyond.
’This bold project will make engineering history and boost the future prosperity of emerging economies in Africa and the Middle East,’ said Al Noor Holding Investment chief executive officer Mohammed Ahmed Al Ahmed.
The project is the brainchild of Saudi business tycoon Sheik Tarek Bin Laden.
The launching ceremony at Djibouti Palace Kempinski was attended by Djibouti’s Prime Minister Dileita Mohammed Dileita, Mr Bin Laden, international investors and about 100 journalists from around the world.
’Having developed the business plan and master-plans for the two cities and the bridge, we’re now ready to talk to potential investors about the opportunities that exist within this ground-breaking project,’ said Al Ahmed.
’Institutional investors are seeking out the next wave of opportunity. BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China) emerging market investment opportunities still exist, but they are no longer nascent markets.
’The next booming emerging market opportunities exist in the Middle East and Africa; and Al Noor Cities will be at the leading edge in supporting economic growth in these markets.’
The strong growth of Middle East economies at an average rate of around 6.5 per cent annually is fuelled mainly by the continuing high oil and non-oil commodity prices, ensuring that the combined GDPs of the GCC economies together with Egypt and Jordan will cross $1,045 billion this year, said Al Ahmed.
’Economic growth in East Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) last year had a similar average at 6.47pc,’ he noted.
’As the reliance on oil revenues diminishes, economies of the Middle East are looking towards income diversity in their economies.
’Traditional trade routes across the Middle East and Africa, long neglected due to the increase in sea and air freight, will be revived when the two Al Noor Cities are connected via road and rail bridge across the Red Sea.’
The bridge is the first physical connection between Africa and the Middle East since the Suez Canal was officially opened in 1869.
’Economic development based on the principles of innovation, sustainability and global competitiveness will form a platform for investment and GDP growth,’ said Al Ahmed.
’The inbound direct investment is forecast to produce an indirect multiplier effect of no less than five times the size of investment for each country.’
Al Noor Cities project master plan reveals one 1,500 sq km city situated on the south-west tip of Yemen mirrored by a similar 1,000 square kilometre city in Djibouti.
This city will be linked by a bridge that carries a six-lane highway and four light rail lines as well as pipelines to carry water and oil.
The bridge, connecting two continents, will be approximately 28.5-km-long and comprised of girder and suspension bridge structures.
The suspension portion of the bridge will be the longest in the world and once operational, it is anticipated that 100,000 car and 50,000 rail passengers will cross the bridge daily in addition to thousands of tonnes of cargo in trucks and rail wagons.
Al Noor Cities has indicated the initial phase of planning is complete and agreements<