RIYADH, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Saudi Umm Alqura Company for Development and Construction (UAQ) and Alinma Investment, a unit of Alinma Bank, launched a 17 billion-Saudi riyal ($4.53 billion) real estate development fund on Wednesday, focused on properties in Mecca.
The new Makkah Real Estate Development Fund is invested in seven hotel towers and two commercial complexes to be developed within the King Abdul Aziz Road project in Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest sites.
Acting chief executive of Alinma Investment Mazin bin Fawaz Baghdadi said the partnership would help increase the capacity to accommodate pilgrims and visitors and boost urban development projects in the region.
Millions of pilgrims descend on Mecca for haj, the world’s largest annual Muslim gathering, which retraces the route the Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago.
The pilgrimage is the backbone of a plan to expand tourism and diversify the Saudi economy away from oil. The haj and the umrah, the year-round lesser pilgrimage, generate billions of dollars in revenues from worshippers’ lodging, transport, fees and gifts. ($1 = 3.7500 riyals) (Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Writing by Tuqa Khalid; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)