Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash on Building Cities From Scratch


Abdullatif Al Shelash says when it comes to real estate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, innovation beyond what’s previously been done is in the works. As one of the partners behind Alaqtar Real Estate Development Company, Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash has long been a visionary when it comes to predicting what’s next in market trends. What is the next trend he foresees?

“I think [within] the upcoming three to five years, [the] Saudi real estate market will start seeing products that [have] never [been] seen before,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “And I’m not saying never seen before only in the Saudi market, maybe globally. Starting from scratch, a new city offer[s] right now more opportunity to designers, to architects, to really come up with a new concept of designs. I think the announcement of The Line, and I’m very sure you have heard about it, that just gives a taste of what could really be coming in terms of construction and the real estate sector in Saudi, where there are going to be more developments in a different way, that will offer things that other old cities cannot really implement or do.”

Abdullatif Al Shelash is talking about Neom’s The Line, which, according to, will be a linear city totally powered by clean energy where residents would live without cars or streets inside a 100-mile-long futuristic “belt.”

The Line is just one part of the ambitious, futuristic project. Under the umbrella of Neom, a visionary urban concept being constructed in northwestern Saudi Arabia, The Line “is a civilizational revolution that puts humans first, providing an unprecedented urban living experience while preserving the surrounding nature. It redefines the concept of urban development and what cities of the future should look like,” says

Architectural Digest reports that The Line will be 656 feet wide and 1,640 feet tall with schools, homes, offices, and parks built vertically on top of one another, and will be the first city in the world without streets, vehicles, and traffic. The Line is slated to use solar, wind, and hydrogen power. The concept of the line has also been described as “zero gravity urbanism.” It will put nature ahead of development and will contribute to preserving 95% of Neom’s land, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

It’s an ambitious undertaking that’s hard to imagine happening anywhere other than Saudi Arabia.

“So you could go to, for an example, Neom, and you can implement things and do things you cannot do in Singapore, neither Hong Kong, neither London, Paris, New York, you cannot do that,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says.

“Why? Because the existing infrastructure in these older cities will not allow you to really do something that you would do in new urban cities, or even a new development in the suburbs of major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam [Saudi Arabia].”

For too long humanity has existed within dysfunctional and polluted cities that ignore nature, according to a YouTube video on The Line. “Now a revolution in civilization is taking place,” the video says. “Imagine a traditional city and consolidating its footprint. The Line will be home to 9 million residents and will be designed to provide a healthier, more sustainable quality of life. Residents will have access to all their daily needs within five-minute walk neighborhoods and there is no need for cars within the space. The company is also using A.I. [artificial intelligence] technology to make services autonomous.”

Abdullatif Al Shelash says Alaqtar has set its sights on the Al-Qassim region and its biggest city, Buraydah, where he anticipates a new transformation for real estate will occur. With Alaqtar, Abdullatif Al Shelash says they’re doing 2 million square meter developments in Buraydah. “It’s catered more toward middle income,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says of the up-and-coming areas. He adds infrastructure is being developed regarding electricity, water, pipelines, and plot sizes.

Alaqtar Towers To Deliver Modern Living

While Alaqtar has multiple projects underway, Alaqtar Towers will be “ideal for integrated and modern residential communities,” according to The website states that Alaqtar Towers will cover an area of 40,000 square meters with quiet, comfortable, contemporary residential options.

Abdullatif Al Shelash says he also helped develop Parisiana Living, a multipurpose, high-end, family-oriented community in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, offering two- to four-bedroom villas and recreational facilities with separate gyms for men and women, parks and playgrounds for children, and 24-hour security.

Abdullatif Al Shelash Says Alaqtar Is Looking at Global Investments

Picture the innovations Abdullatif Al Shelash is creating in countries other than Saudi Arabia — because that’s exactly what he’s working on.

“We’re looking at different markets, different opportunities globally,” he says.

And Abdullatif Al Shelash, who founded Alaqtar with his brother and a friend, says construction in the Kingdom is only headed for expansion. reports Saudi Arabia’s construction market was $120.4 billion in 2021, and that market is expected to have an average annual growth rate of more than 4% from 2023 to 2026.

“Quality on this construction 15 years ago was very bad, but we’ve seen an improvement in the last 15 years in terms of really the skilled labor, in terms of also the material being used, in terms of really its cost has increased of course, for sure,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says.

“There is a huge development in the building material sector. Currently, we’re seeing more materials are coming out [that are] much more, better efficient lighting that will really save energy. We’re seeing also many innovative ideas and how to ventilate, cut the cost of electricity and all of that, do installations to some of the houses. So some of initiatives are really taking places right now to really do that kind of improvement.”

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