How ABB technology leadership provides solutions for Saudia Arabia’s developing economy

For almost 70 years, ABB and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a partnership that has helped build and diversify the country’s economy. A relationship that began in 1951 with an agreement to supply gas turbines to Saudi Aramco (the Saudi Arabian American Oil Company), has developed into multiple partnerships with the country’s infrastructure projects across all aspects of ABB’s business. Chief among those is the Sadara chemical plant in the Jubail Industrial City, located in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. Sadara was established in 2011 as a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and the Dow Chemical Company to create the world’s largest chemical complex ever to be completed in a single phase. To give some idea of its scale, Sadara’s footprint occupies an area equivalent to three Monacos.

Fully built at a cost of $20bn, Sadara comprises 26 integrated manufacturing plants with more than three million metric tons of capacity per year, generating around $10bn in sales revenue. ABB’s role in the project was to provide software and hardware solutions which allow the efficient operation of more than 50 different types of plant within the complex. As Main Automation Contractor (MAC), ABB is involved in all levels of the project, from concept through to long-lifecycle plant operation.

Sadara chemical plant in the Jubail Industrial City
Sadara chemical plant in the Jubail Industrial City

ABB also supplied Sadara’s safety systems, instrumentation and electrical equipment, as well as process analytic hardware that keeps track of chemical reactions. In addition, plant managers are able to use ABB’s electronic Shift Operations Management System (eSOMS), which automates the main management functions and helps engineers to acquire, share, store and interrogate data. Sadara is a key element in the country’s economic and social masterplan, Vision 2030, which encompasses ambitious projects such as the NEOM mega-city, which aims to create the world’s most advanced human habitat by maximizing cutting-edge smart city technology and thinking.

ABB robots play an essential role in Almarai's production capability
ABB robots play an essential role in Almarai's production capability

ABB is already contributing to the modernization of established Saudi businesses, among them Almarai, the country’s leading food and drink manufacturer. ABB robots play an essential role in Almarai’s production capability and almost 70 are deployed in its factories, alongside other ABB products, such as low-voltage drives. Their presence is one of many ABB milestones in Saudi Arabia, as the country undergoes the transformative process of diversifying its economy away from oil and gas production. Among these have been:

1986 Foundation stone laid for ABB’s factory in Riyadh’s second industrial city
1993 First mobile substation built locally in ABB Saudi Arabia
2008 ABB introduces Swedish Master’s degree scholarship program for Saudi students
2010 ABB wins first contract in Saudi Arabian railway sector
2011 ABB KNX technology turns Princess Noura University into Saudi’s first green campus 2015 ABB opens factory for High Voltage Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) in Dammam – the first of its kind in the Middle Eas

GIS factory in Dammam
GIS factory in Dammam

Most recently, ABB helped the country achieve a cultural landmark thanks to its pioneering partnership with Formula E – the world’s first all-electric single-seater motor-racing championship. Last year’s Diriyah race provided the backdrop to a historic moment for Saudi Arabia, as men and women were allowed to attend a major sporting event in mixed company for the first time.


This year’s Diriyah races, which open Season 6 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship on Friday and Saturday, will bring another, as Reema Juffali becomes the first Saudi woman ever to compete in a motor race in her own country – as VIP driver in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY races.

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