Emaar The Economic City, the company building the huge new King Abdullah Economic City project, has said that it expects to begin trial operations at the huge new 14km2 seaport during the third quarter of 2013.
In an update of its activities to the Saudi stock exchange, Emaar TEC said that the port will initially handle up to 1.3m TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent container units).
A company has been set up to continue the development of the port, which will eventually spread across 20km2 of land and have the capacity to handle 20m TEU - making it one of the top 20 container ports in the world.
The new company will invest around $800m in the development, maintenance and operation of the new city's port. Emaar TEC will own a 34% stake in the new company, with the remaining 66% in the hands of contractor Saudi BinLadin Group.
Emaar TEC said that it has achieved a number of other goals across the development. In the Al Talah Gardens residential district, all basic and secondary infrastructure works have been completed on the first phase, while works in the second phase are already under way and the launch of a third phase is also expected shortly.
In the 62.5km2industrial zone, some 25% of the $24m (SR: 91m) of infrastructure works for the second phase of the project has been completed, with phase one completed in full and a number of factories already beginning to operate.
A masterplan for the second phase of the industrial zone, comprising around 18m m2, has also been created by architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill, with Buro Happold providing engineering advice.
Meanwhile, in the Bay La Sun residential district, work is ongoing at the Marina Towers and Beach Towers is ongoing, with the Marina 4 tower now 98% complete and Marina 2 96% finished. Both are expected to be handed over to owners by the end of the year. Marina 4 contains 116 unit,s, while Marina 1 and 2 both contain 192 units. Contractors have also begun working on the 116-unit Marina 3 tower, which is expected to be handed over early next year.
The first new hotel in the city, the Bay La Sun Hotel, is now 98% complete and should be handed over by the end of the month.
It has 192 rooms, a conference hall, marina, restaurants, shops and meeting facilities and has been built at a cost of $66m.
Other new facilities to open include a new 24-hour medical clinic and the first phase of the city's business district, containing five new office buildings. A series of shops, restaurants, cafes and a school with a 2,250-student capacity have also been opened.
Speaking about the projgress at Al-Talah Gardens, KAEC CEO Fahd Al-Rasheed said: "We are moving at an accelerated pace in the development of Al-Talah Gardens neighborhood following the great success of phase one and two, in which all units were sold out in record time.
"Al-Talah Gardens comes as a prototype solution to meet the urgent housing needs of King Abdullah Economic City's neighboring communities, such as Petro Rabigh, KAUST. Additional strong demand comes from investors within KAEC, in addition to families from Jeddah and Makkah."
King Abdullah Economic City is being built around 100km north of Jeddah. The 168km2 site is around the same size of Washington DC.