The Citizen

Ottawa, Friday, March 5, 1976

Saudi windfall
Prince’s apartment gift boon for Ottawa developer

An Ottawa developer has signed a $130-million contract to build 10 apartment buildings in Saudi Arabia for a prince to give as presents to his 10 sons.

Fred Farha, president of Fundmore Corporation (Canada) Ltd., who returned to Ottawa this week froin Riyadh, the Saudi capital, described the contract as a breakthrough for Canada’s construction industry in the oil-wealthy Arab states.

Over the next 28 months up to 400 Canadians will be employed on the project, most of them from Ottawa and other Ontario centres.

Canadians will do the actual construction work because Saudi Arabia is critically short of skilled labor, Mr. Farha explained.

Nearly all of the material will have to be imported as well, some from Europe but the bulk of it from Canada. “There’s nothing available here,” said Mr. Farha. “We’ll have to import everything from nails to steel.”

While this will drive up the cost of the project to almost four times what it would be in Canada, money is not the problem with the Saudis, the builder noted.

The prince has agreed to place 22 per cent of the total cost at the disposal of the builder for interim financing. The current shortage of housing in Riyadh means that the builder will have to provide accommodation for the workers.

Mr. Farha was first contacted last November by an emissary of Prince Bandar Bin Muhammed Bin Abdul-Rahman Al-Saud about tackling the project.

He first met Prince Bandar later that month on a trip to Riyadh. The prince, first cousin of Saudi Arabian King Khaled Ibn Abdel Aziz, was described as a “handsome man in his early 50s, very wise and sociable with a dynamic personality.”

Mr. Farha said he was chosen, for the job as someone known to the prince’s emissary.

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