EXCLUSIVE: Besix sees PPP opportunities at Neom

Belgian-headquartered construction firm Besix is actively eyeing PPP opportunities at Neom – Saudi Arabia’s futuristic $500bn smart city.

Nicolaas de Koning

Nicolaas de Koning, the firm's head of bids and assets for the Middle East, told Partnerships Bulletin: “Neom is on our list. We are cautious but we are definitely looking. We will look to see where it aligns with our values, ambitions and capabilities.”

Neom, with a total planned area of 26,500sq km, is set to include a floating industrial complex, global trade hub, tourist resorts, and a linear city - all powered exclusively by renewable energy sources. The city is slated to be completed by 2039.

In particular, Besix is looking at Neom housing projects. “There is a huge need for worker accommodation ­- they are tendering now and they will tender in future. They are providing housing for the people that need to build and operate Neom,” De Koning said.

As Neom progresses, the kingdom is expected to issue billions of dollars of PPPs across housing, rail, transport, renewable energy and related infrastructure.

De Koning said: “We are entering Saudi Arabia slowly… we have previously been there as a contractor.

“We can’t afford not to be ambitious because the pipeline is growing. Obviously, winning and closing deals takes a lot of time, so it’s impossible for anyone to grow quickly. We are trying to slowly extend our portfolio to different asset classes.”

To read the full interview with Nicolaas de Koning, discussing Besix’s wider ambitions for the Middle East, click here.