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Dr. Alaa Nassif


Urban Renewal

CEO, Royal Commission at Yanbu


Dr. Alaa Nassif is CEO of the Royal Commission at Yanbu, and also oversees the management of Yanbu Industrial City and is CEO of the Royal Commission at Jizan Economic City (RCJEC) since September 2015. He holds a PhD from the University of Salford in Manchester, a master’s from the University of Miami, and a bachelor’s from King Abdul Aziz University. He has also attended Oxford University and Massachusetts University of Technology (MIT). He is also a member of numerous boards of directors including the Saudi Energy Efficiency Council and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

“The interdependence between energy and industrial growth is crucial to sustainable development.“

What are some of the most significant changes and projects that have occurred over recent years?

When we started in Yanbu 40 years ago, this area was a desert. The city has grown rapidly and continues to expand while providing excellent investment opportunities in numerous industry sectors and became a globally recognized industrial and business center located on the coast of the scenic Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. The Royal Commission at Yanbu has undergone major transformation phases over the past 40 years of its existence, moving from infrastructure development to becoming a comprehensive city management business model focusing on strategic partnerships and promoting industrial development and diversification. The mission of the Royal Commission at Yanbu is to plan, promote, develop, and manage our city. Over the past five years, we have been focusing on developing a specialized industrial city for strategic downstream industries or clusters that complete the Kingdom value chain, increase our finished product export, and create more jobs for Saudi citizens. To enable accelerated growth and make our city very attractive location, our partnership with strategic investors has focused on continuing to build efficient infrastructure that suits all types of industries through the use of integrated sea ports and advanced multi-modal logistics hubs. We are also developing reliable energy and utilities solutions. The interdependence between energy and industrial growth is crucial to sustainable development. We are also making progress with the development of a vibrant city with outstanding lifestyle options to make it conducive to raising a family.

Where do your efforts to bolster logistics capabilities stand at present?

One of the Saudi Vision 2030 goals is to raise our global ranking in the Logistics Performance Index from 49 to 25 and ensure that the Kingdom becomes a regional leader, leveraging the country’s location at the crossroads of important international trade routes between Asia, Europe, and Africa. To achieve this goal, one of the Royal Commission Initiatives in the National Transformation Program 2020 involves the development of a Multi-Modal Logistics Hub in Yanbu Industrial City. The Economic Plan 2030 of Royal Commission at Yanbu defined this initiative in 2012. Since then we have completed the development of Yanbu Master Plan that includes projects such as the MMLH. That project by itself is an important development for the city, with a total area of 75sqkm. RCY has completed the necessary designs and started construction work for this project late 2016. The objective of the MMLH is to provide outstanding logistics services to our investors by means of rail, air, and sea. This will provide world-class customer service through safe, reliable, and efficient logistics services liking our city with others regionally and globally. The project has many components including rail links, warehousing, shared tank farms, a minerals hub, and special economic zones. All these components will help to optimize the supply chain for investors and promote new investment in the Kingdom. To support the planned Yanbu MMLH, Yanbu Industrial College is establishing a national logistics center of excellence to train employees to overcome the technological challenges facing the logistics industry. The Center of Excellence in Logistics will position Yanbu as a hub for industry-driven transport, distribution, and logistics commercialization and help build a national reputation for Yanbu as a location for logistics service providers entering the Kingdom.

Do those new refineries include the expansions to Yasref?

Yanbu industrial city is the third largest global refining hub in the world and has the largest oil shipping port on the Red Sea. The current refining capacity of the Kingdom is 3.1 million barrels a day, and this will reach 8 million barrels a day within ten years. Yanbu will have a major share of this expansion. By then, Yanbu will be the world’s largest refining hub. The Royal Commission’s long-term vision for economic development and diversification will position Yanbu industrial city beyond exporting basic chemicals and intermediates and allow it to produce more value-added downstream petrochemical derivatives and converted finished goods. The expansion of Yasref will definitely support our long term diversification strategy.

The downstream segment is a key focus of the National Transformation Plan (NTP). How are you supporting these broader goals?

Hydrocarbon industries including refining and petrochemicals will continue to be at the heart of our industrial base. However, since 2010, the Royal Commission has begun a new wave of development which focuses on the downstream segment. Our industries include six clusters that we have developed. We have solar and renewable energy clusters as well as a construction materials cluster. We also have different clusters related to plastics and specialty chemicals, minerals, automotive support, and spare parts for desalination and primary industries. The Royal Commission at Yanbu already has industries in each cluster and at different stages, whether in operation or construction and design. It is worth mentioning that the Royal Commission at Yanbu initiative to build a spare parts cluster will supply the spare parts required locally for the construction of the desalination plants. We have been achieving great figures for the past six years including 2016. We almost tripled our downstream activities compared with the previous 20 years. We were able to expand our Light Industrial Park (LIP) area for downstream activities by three times in order to accommodate these new industries. These industries need a different kind of support from that of basic industries as they are almost always smaller companies and smaller entities. We help them in many ways, including by providing prefabricated manufacturing buildings. All they need to do is to plug in their equipment and start production. Moving toward downstream industry will diversify Yanbu’s product portfolios by producing a wider range of products, generating more employment opportunities, and opening up new opportunities for the Kingdom’s petrochemical industry.

What are your ambitions for the year ahead?

I can assure you that we will have huge projects in the coming years worth over SAR10 billion and involving various sectors. In industrial areas, we will have important projects that we are working on already. Part of the development will be for our colleges and institutes in Yanbu. Projects related to the development of community services like hotels and complexes of houses and recreational facilities are all part of the overall plan. Projects focused on industry and housing will represent the bulk of our work next year. We will also launch our Smart City initiative, which is a project that we started three years ago. Now we have a base for launching it. Soon we will have a major celebration for the first Saudi Arabian city to become a smart city. It will also become one of the world’s first industrial cities to do so. Completing these projects, providing customer-focused services programs and close partnerships with stakeholders will allow us to achieve our goals and move closer to accomplishing the Saudi Vision 2030.



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