Saudi Arabia is expected to increase its spending on non-oil related infrastructure projects this year, according to a report by Standard Chartered. In its Global Focus - 2012 -The Year Ahead, the company says Saudi Arabia has committed an estimated US$159bn for projects for the year. Infrastructure and construction projects account for the lion’s share of the projects, at US$44.6bn and US$39bn respectively, with another US$67bn set aside for the construction of 500,000 housing units. The 2012 budget also sets aside US$45bn for the education sector, with the construction of 742 new schools and 40 new colleges planned. Health care is allocated US$23.1bn and includes 17 new hospitals, in addition to the 130 under construction. Infrastructure spending includes US$9.4bn for transport; projects include the expansion of a number of the country’s airports, and the construction of close to 4,000km of roads. The first of those housing projects was awarded in November 2011 when the Saudi government announced it had set aside US$22bn for projects in 11 regions around the country. Construction and engineering specialist Parsons has been awarded the first package of the Saudi government’s plan and will oversee the masterplan for 3,200ha of land in the north of the kingdom that will be spread over 11 sites.