Another step toward making Riyadh a ‘mega-metropolis’
Back in the 1970s, I spent my childhood in Riyadh, a city where the airport was just minutes away from almost any point in town and where the last built-up area to the north was the Al-Olaya district, where the Al-Faisaliah tower is located now. Back then, the population of Riyadh was around 710,000 people. Now, is over 7 million. For decades, Riyadh has been considered one of the fastest-growing cities in the region. Now, it stretches almost 100 km from north to south, making it as large as the country of Lebanon. Riyadh’s population is expected to double by 2030.
As the capital of Saudi Arabia and the focal point for Vision 2030, Riyadh will be seeing some significant changes. King Salman has issued a royal order to convert the Riyadh Development Authority, established in 1974, to the Royal Commission for Riyadh.
The government aims to raise the standard of living for residents and visitors to key cities across the Kingdom, with special emphasis on Riyadh.
The commission is responsible for the urban, economic, social, and cultural development of Riyadh. The Kingdom is planning for a dramatic increase in the population of the capital to make it a “mega-metropolis” in the Middle East.
The master plan for the city will also involve a change in lifestyle and image for the Kingdom’s capital, with the aim of making Riyadh a more sustainable, mobile and livable city, complete with family facilities, sports, events, health centers and schools.
The government has said it would spend SR86 billion ($23 billion) to boost the quality of life within the capital. Several key projects have been underway in the city for some time including the King Abdullah Financial District, Riyadh Metro, Addir’iyah Development Program, Wadi Laban Environmental Rehabilitation Project, King Abdul Aziz Historical Center Project, and Saudi Railway.
This year, Riyadh will host the G20 Summit, the largest and most important event in the Kingdom’s history. Work is ongoing around-the-clock to complete some critical landmark projects, including the aforementioned metro and financial district. In my opinion, the summit is a turning point for Riyadh and should secure the city’s place as a global destination. The new commission and the appointment of Fahd Al-Rasheed as its president will be important factors in attracting local and foreign investments.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.