Minister of Public Works and Housing Prince Me'teb Ibn Abdul Aziz, in the introduction to the Ministry's book entitled 'Housing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Ambitions and Achievements in 100 Years', has remarked that the Kingdom's founder King Abdul Aziz was well aware of the importance of settlements for the country's nomads. The book records the development not only of housing for citizens, but projects for improvement of the holy places, to enable pilgrims to perform their rites in comfort and ease.
Prince Me'teb commented that the nomad settlement program begun in 1910 by King Abdul Aziz was the first social development process in Saudi Arabia. Each of the settlements for the twelve or so tribes was provided with a school and a water well. Since then, the government has continued to give the utmost attention to the housing sector, offering citizens soft loans through the Real Estate Fund and the Saudi Credit Bank in addition to distributing free plots of land for building.
Over the past two decades in particular, the Kingdom has witnessed significant urban development. By the end of the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (1990-94) a total of about 3 million housing units had been provided by the state, and another 2.5 million units set up by the private sector.