Seashore development project gets under way.
JEDDAH: A giant Ferris wheel being built as part of a project to develop 12 kilometers of Jeddah's seaside will become one of the city's key landmarks, according to a municipal official.
The Jeddah Eye, as the Ferris wheel will be known, will be the city's equivalent of the famous London Eye, said Ashraf Al-Turki, head of the open areas design and planning department at the municipality.
The London Eye (also called the Millennium Wheel) is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe, located on the South Bank of the Thames; it resembles a giant bicycle wheel with 32 enclosed "eye capsules" that can carry about two dozen people apiece.
The first phase of Jeddah's seaside development project, which will cover the area from Al-Nawrus roundabout all the way to the Water Desalination Plant to the south, has been awarded to a construction company.
The municipality has started leveling bays along the Corniche to make room for the upcoming facilities. The developed areas will contain greenery, public facilities and parking. Al-Turki said some of the bays would not be filled in but rather be used for swimming areas, marinas and open stages.
He said the project would be completed in three phases along a 12-kilometer area in accordance with international design standards. The project will include a number of artistic fountains, public seating, open art museums, mosques, playgrounds and public toilets.
"In the first phase of the project 3.5 kilometers of the Corniche will be developed," he said. "The sidewalks will be designed in different colors with an artistic touch," he added.
Ghassan Al-Sulaiman, chairman of the City Center Development Company, and Florian Bollen, chairman of the Great Wheel Corporation, signed an agreement last November to build the Jeddah Eye. The project, scheduled to open in 2012, is expected to attract some 500,000 visitors annually.
The Jeddah Eye will be surrounded by buildings, including a hotel, a museum, shopping malls and a variety of restaurants and cafes. The central area will also have a park, a beach, a museum, an open arena for festivities and a fountain.
The comprehensive seaside development project involves a total of 17 projects to be implemented in phases. "The city's rapid growth parallel to the coastline made this project one of the priorities of the municipality's plans," he noted.
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