Saudi Arabia is planning to build nearly 6,500 houses and Iraq’s largest shopping mall near the capital Baghdad after an agreement between the two Arab neighbours, the Gulf Kingdom’s ambassador in Iraq said on Monday.

Abdul Aziz Al-Shammari said the project, dubbed ‘Jadat Baghdad’ (Baghdad Avenue), comprises 4,000 apartments and 2,500 villas besides the country’s largest mall, restaurants, cafes, and commercial offices.

He told the official Iraqi news agency that the project would be funded by Saudi Arabia and would cost nearly $1 billion.

“This project will be a surprise for Iraqis and a watershed for the country’s development…the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq have entered a strong stage and we are about to reap great fruits,” Shammari said without providing further details of the project near Baghdad International Airport.

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)