Saudi’s Climate Vow: 1500 NEOM Units Fitted-Out in Aussie Hardwoods

The world's largest construction project is turning to mass timber and modular-based manufacturing at a time when timber imports surge in the Gulf State.

Sun 21 Apr 24


More than 1500 modular houses, housing thousands of construction executives, professionals, and consultants on Saudi Arabia’s NEOM, will feature Australian weatherboards, wall panels and cladding made from reconstituted hardwoods.

The push comes as the US $500 billion NEOM project –among the largest projects in history, is now responsible for Saudi Arabia replacing the UK as the world’s largest plywood importer from China, with the Kingdom competing with the UAE for regional leadership in timber-based construction.

Now, Wood Central can reveal that Weathertex, which uses steam-heated compression technology to turn hardwood pulp into high-value engineered wood products, is working with project teams across Saudi Arabia to supply low-carbon, affordable housing solutions at scale.

The PEFC-certified product, the first manufactured building product to receive Global Green Tag Platinum certification, has been dubbed a “golden ticket” to net zero construction across the region.

Downtown Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. According to China Customs, exports of plywood has tripled to Saudi Arabia over the past 12 months amid the rush for construction materials. (Photo Credit: ArtistDesignArt via Shutterstock Images)
Downtown Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. According to China Customs, exports of plywood have tripled to Saudi Arabia over the past 12 months amid the rush for construction materials. (Photo Credit: ArtistDesignArt via Shutterstock Images)

Last month, Jason O’Hagan, Weathertex’s Managing Director, visited Saudi Arabia, where he spoke to Ranjit Dhody, the owner of Beautex Wood, which is now licensed to sell the product exclusively in the Middle East and Asia.

“Saudi Arabia’s growth is incredible,” Mr O’Hagan said, adding, “The country is on a wave of massive construction, with the leaders turning to prefabrication and modular housing to meet the uplift.”

It comes as Weathertex—exhibited at Saudi Arabia’s Big 5 Construct expo— met with many of the Middle East’s largest construction houses.

“They love Weathertex; they love the sustainability messaging and how it aligns with their vision for Saudi Arabia’s future,” said Mr O’Hagan.

Announced in October 2021, Saudi Arabia was among the first countries in the Middle East and North African region to deliver a plan for net zero, along with the UAE, Israel and Bahrain, with Oman (in 2022) joining as part of a broader push for the region to embrace green technologies.

The world’s biggest oil exporter has pledged to cut its carbon emissions to net zero by 2060 – with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman confirming that the Gulf state would invest more than US $180 billion to decarbonise, which includes investing in greener construction materials.

“It’s not just sustainable products,” Mr Dhody said, “but the sustainable cities that come along with them.” Including NEOM, “everyone is talking about the 1500 prefab houses now being supplied to the construction camps.”

Beautex Wood is an Indian supplier of high-quality, sustainable timber cladding, decking, and other products. It is at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s timber wave, with the Weathertex product now considered its “flagship product.”

“Sustainability is at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which aims to achieve a Net Zero future by 2060,” according to Mr Dhody, who said to achieve this vision, “we need to provide sustainable, durable, and viable solutions.”

“This certainly encourages my team at Beautex Wood to spearhead real and sustainable wood solutions, ultimately achieving futuristic, innovative, and modular designs.”

Last year, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salmon, discussed NEOM and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in an interview with Fox News – footage courtesy of @AlArabiyaEnglish.

The push to embrace timber comes as a report published by Dr Danish Ahmed called for Saudi Arabia to use mass timber construction systems, specifically cross-laminated timbers, to bring the LINE to fruition.

Dr Ahmed, who belongs to the Department of Civil Engineering at the Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd University in Saudi Arabia, said, “The structural analysis and design results (of the report) indicated that the CLT building was acceptable in terms of lateral deformation or drift under a critical combination of lateral and gravity loads.” Before adding that, CLT was “an excellent alternative material for buildings in LINE that aims to be zero-net carbon’s city.”

However, in the meantime, Weathertex’s Australian-based National Marketing Manager, Vanda Correia, said the weatherboards, panels and cladding, made from NSW hardwoods, will be used to house the engineers, consultants and construction managers busy working on the Line, Aqaba, Oxagon, Sindalah and Torjenda.

“It’s awe-inspiring to think an Australian family-owned company is playing such an important role in this gigantic project,” she said, adding that the project shows that sustainability knows no borders, “together, we can build a greener, brighter future for generations to come.”


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


Related Articles