Abdulrahman Addas, the CEO of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, said that the commission was striving to make Makkah a sustainable city through the achievement of four main goals, which include stimulating economic growth, creating jobs and investment opportunities, providing the best services, and ensuring financial sustainability.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Addas said: “The establishment of the Royal Commission for Makkah and the Holy Sites was based on the historical interest bestowed to the city since the founding of the Kingdom by the King Abdulaziz - may God have mercy on him – and through his sons the kings, and up to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Commission’s president.”
He continued: “Today, we are working on the extension of this interest, which is embodied in many of the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, with regards to upgrading the facilities provided in the holy city of Makkah and providing better services for the pilgrims.”
He stressed that the Commission’s efforts over the past period were focused on institutional building, studying the status of the existing workforce and the ongoing projects, setting priorities, and building plans to deal with the current situation, in addition to empowering existing bodies based on the approved strategic direction and a comprehensive system to oversee its implementation.
“Today, we can assert that we have completed the establishment stage and launched the development phase with accelerated and successive steps, at the organizational, planning, and procedural levels, or through specific projects and agreements aimed at enabling the working bodies to operate within their fields,” he noted.
Addas stressed that the Commission’s main role was to “achieve prosperity and sustainable development that would be commensurate with Makkah’s position and importance.”
For this purpose, he said the Commission would work on four main goals: “Promoting economic growth, which is measured by the city’s GDP, generating jobs and creating investment opportunities, providing the highest level of services and the highest quality of life for residents and visitors alike, and ensuring financial sustainability.”
Asked about the relationship between the Royal Commission, the Principality of Makkah Region, the Holy Capital Secretariat, and other government agencies, the Commission’s CEO said: “It is a harmonious relationship to achieve our goals in the near future, based on three points of great importance: the focus on the city’s geographical framework, comprehensive coordination between the relevant bodies and institutions and efficient performance that includes planning, support, and implementation.”
As for the strategic direction of Makkah and the Holy Sites, Addas underlined the work to develop a city “designed for a distinctive life through high productivity and a diversified economy.”
He explained: “We have defined strategic pillars that seek to raise the quality of life by providing sustainable services to the population and encouraging investment and talent acquisition.”
Addas added that the Commission was working to improve planning in order to transform Makkah into a multi-urban city, provide an integrated transportation system and redistribute urban density, while applying an effective governance model that raises the efficiency of city management and provides a possible environment for diversifying funding sources, by increasing the participation of the private and endowment sectors.
He also presented an overview of the Commission’s ongoing and future projects.
He said in this regard: “We are currently working on several projects, knowing that the most important venture that will be announced in the coming period is the launch of the comprehensive plan for the holy sites, in addition to a number of projects that will provide a qualitative shift in the housing and services provided to pilgrims in partnership with the private sector.”
Addas continued: “Our role in the Royal Commission is to develop the investment environment for the city of Makkah in order to attract investors from the private and endowment sectors locally and globally. This can be achieved by setting the appropriate regulatory frameworks and creating promising investment opportunities, in addition to allocating government resources and making them attractive to investors, which will have a qualitative impact on the city’s development.”
Asked about the mechanisms to develop and attract human resources, he said that the Commission was seeking to attract the best local and international experiences from all sectors.
“The attention bestowed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Holy city of Makkah pushes us to attract and employ capabilities in an optimal way to ensure good planning and high-quality performance in order to achieve the prosperity and sustainable development of the city,” he underlined.
As for the challenges that could face the Commission’s work, Addas said: “The biggest challenge for the Royal Commission is attracting, developing and maintaining human capital that will be able to ensure sustainability and achieve the approved goals. We are optimistic about building a model team that can overcome challenges, believes that its efforts are to serve the purest parts of earth, and has the supreme thinking to make this city a model in all fields.”