RIYADH (BE2C2 Report) — Saudi capital Riyadh is expected to become a leading “global metropole”, its Emir, Prince Faisal Bin Bandar who is also the Chairman of Arriyadh Development Authority, told Oxford Business Group (OBG) in an exclusive interview.
The Riyadh Metro, King Abdullah Financial district, King Khalid International Airport Expansion Project, and plans for 100 municipal parks are some of the projects underway as part of a a far-reaching masterplan that is being developed to support the thousands of projects already taking shape across the capital. These initiatives is expected to make the city a leading “global metropole” in coming years, said Prince Faisal Bin Bandar.
Prince Faisal said the drafted Strategic and Comprehensive Master Plan of Riyadh had both economic development and sustainable growth at its core.
Both, he told OBG, would be achieved “by focusing on upgrading human capital, diversifying income sources, promoting modern infrastructure to accommodate the demands of development and supporting environmental protection programs.” Projects will be rolled out through a raft of strategic programs under the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), the government agency responsible for the socio-economic, cultural, and environmental development of the city, which has drafted the masterplan in collaboration with other organizations. The plan, he noted, included the rehabilitation of Wadi Hanifah, Silay Valley and Al Hair Lakes.
“It also calls for the construction of 100 municipal parks throughout the city and the development of plazas and pedestrian walkways to create open spaces for the citizenry to enjoy,” he told OBG. Prince Faisal, who is also chairman of the ADA, said the broad range of projects already under way across Riyadh, worth approximately $135.7b, included commercial and social initiatives, alongside ambitious transport infrastructure upgrades that would “change the city”.
“The most well-known is the King Abdulaziz Public Transport Project, commonly known as the Riyadh Metro, which will create an integrated metro and bus network in the city,” Prince Faisal said. “There is also the King Khalid International Airport Expansion Project, and railway development and expressways projects.” The metro, which he described as the backbone of the public transport system, will comprise six lines, spanning 176 km and serving 85 stations, providing links to King Khalid International Airport, King Abdullah Financial Centre, the city’s main university campuses, the city center and other key transport intersections.
“The Riyadh Metro will change the city, not just in terms of easier transport flows and reduced traffic bottlenecks, but also by improving the landscape and economy,” he said. The bus system, which represents the second part of the project, will see a fully-integrated bus transport network rolled out, introducing 22 routes, covering 1,200 km, across the entire city. Prince Faisal told OBG that a contract had been signed with a consortium comprising Saudi Public Transport Company and France’s RATP to set up, operate and maintain the bus network.
He called on the private sector to participate in what he described as a “rare investment opportunity”, during both the current phase of construction and the operational stage that would follow. Riyadh is also set to carve a niche as a financial services and technology center, once the construction of the King Abdullah Financial District and the Information Technology and Communications City are complete, Prince Faisal said.
Other projects earmarked for the city would span the health, education, housing and utility sectors, he added, which, alongside initiatives relating to trade, commerce, leisure and tourism, would bring its people a wealth of benefits.