Case study

A world-class pharma facility for Saudi Arabia’s future

Wood is engineering solutions for a healthier world by partnering with global pharmaceutical, biotechnology, healthcare and research organisations providing expertise across the full asset life cycle.

  • linkedin icon
  • twitter icon
  • facebook icon
  • youtube icon
  • instagram icon
Project details
Project name:
Saudi Arabia pharma facility
Client name:
King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
Marco Bolognini
VP Business Development – EMEA and APAC Life Sciences
Angelo Bernardis
Life-Science Global Technology Lead
Frederic Jeunet
Vice President Life Sciences Australia
Christina Meyer Dell Cioppia
Vice President, CQV
Kenneth L. Bibbo
Director, Emerging Technologies
Key stats
Size of country:
Saudi Arabia is largest country in the Gulf region
33 million
Largest economy in Arab world:
GDP $782B

When Pfizer needed a new manufacturing facility for the production and packaging of pharmaceuticals in Saudi Arabia, we partnered together with our client to provide a wide range of multidisciplinary services – from the earliest days of the project’s inception in 2010, through construction and production trials.

In this case, the US-based pharmaceutical giant needed to meet requirements of a law that mandated international drug makers conduct a portion of their production process in-country. In doing so, it would also enable Pfizer to sell its own products in Saudi Arabia’s pharmaceutical market, which is one of the largest in the Middle East.

Wood’s ability to draw on its extensive global expertise in pharmaceutical and life sciences, plus our multi-sector experience in local environments, is how we added project value. To better answer client requests, Wood also built a multicultural team of engineers who worked in perfect integration with Pfizer corporate and local site teams along every step of the project.

That we were able to deliver wide-ranging services under one project management team – like, site master planning, conceptual and basic design, detailed engineering, subcontracting support, technical support to the main contractor during the construction phase, plus final commissioning and qualification management – was a difference maker, too, and that enabled us to more closely align with Pfizer’s needs.

Pharma store room automated

Medicine manufacture

Even in the early design stages, when project targets weren’t yet completely defined – and different ideas and visions needed to be considered – our project team provided effective support for a smooth decision process, by sharing key criteria, background and alternatives. We followed that up with an extensive design-to-cost exercise, which involved a deep re-thinking of project requirements and site arrangement, as well as the quality of equipment and materials. The result was a substantially optimized project budget which was in line with our client’s financial targets.

The US $50M plant formally opened in 2017. Located in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) on the west coast of the Red Sea and about 100km north of Jeddah, it includes manufacturing, primary and secondary packaging, quality control labs and warehousing, as well as staff support spaces. With a total developed surface area in the range of 11,000 m2, it has the capacity to produce 18 million packs of solid dosage forms annually.

As part of Pfizer’s wider network of major manufacturing facilities around the world, the initial focus of the Saudi facility was to produce 16 of the company’s core pharmaceutical products, in separate phases, to meet local health needs in five therapeutic areas, including:  cardiovascular, pain, anti-infective, urology and neurology.

In addition to providing access to high quality medicines for a regional population that is growing and aging, Pfizer’s local presence ensures the integrity of pharmaceutical supplies and reduces imports of medications. Saudi Arabia also reaps an added benefit. Of the initial 124 employees hired at Pfizer’s Saudi manufacturing facility, 50% are Saudi nationals, ensuring the further development of local workers in this vital industry into the future.

Related Key Markets
Be in the know
Get in touch
United by our common purpose to unlock solutions to the world’s most critical challenges, we are future ready, now.