Interview: Nabeel Al Amudi

Which projects are likely to improve the competitiveness of Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure?

NABEEL AL AMUDI: Each transport sector entity in Saudi Arabia is now focusing on the National Transport Strategy (NTS), which aims to integrate road planning operations with railways, ports and airports in order to achieve better connectivity of multimodal transport. The strategy will take into consideration the strategic objectives of Saudi Vision 2030, and its economic, urban and industrial development goals, in addition to communication with neighbouring countries and the international trade requisites. The strategy will run for at least 15 years, and will be equipped with all the necessary systems and applications to forecast transport demand size and direction, based on statistics and traffic models.

The strategy will outline in detail the procedure for project construction and adaptation, while maintaining reasonable budget expectations over the implementation period. The projects will sustain progress at all levels, providing incentives for economic growth and trade transformation, while encouraging private sector participation in developing the transport infrastructure facilities, thus contributing directly to the elevation of the Kingdom’s competitiveness in infrastructure.

What is the regulatory framework for boosting private sector participation in railway projects?

AL AMUDI: The primary strategy in the National Transformation Programme and Vision 2030 is to increase engagement with specialised private companies in most of the transport mega projects through privatisation or public-private partnerships, in coordination with the Saudi National Privatisation Centre. The Ministry is taking a strategic approach to strengthen partnerships with the private sector on railway projects, and the Public Transport Authority which regulates the Saudi Railways Organisation and the Saudi Railway Company is advancing the sector towards achieving this goal. We will invite local investors and leading multinational companies to enter long-term strategic alliances and capitalise on the business opportunities and successful projects with transport sector entities in the fields of roads, airports, public transportation, railways and ports.

The key objectives of private sector participation include achieving excellent international standards in terms of performance and safety, improved reliability, reduced costs and increased revenues.

We aim to establish a culture of quality, using marketing and customer service talents and expertise to encourage more frequent use of the railways for passenger transport, and raise the market share of railways for goods transport.

How are projects being prioritised to support the growth of the Kingdom’s economic activities?

AL AMUDI: The Ministry of Transport (MOT) is responsible for medium- and long-term NTS projects, based on planning procedures, mechanisms and tools coordinated with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Economy and Planning. The plans will go through several stages, such as project planning, scheduling and sequencing. The plans also consider multi-modality models, prioritisation, feasibility and expected long-term budgets.

It has come to our awareness that the quality of the planning and decision-making processes is dependent on the availability of accurate and comprehensive data and statistics in the Kingdom’s transport sector. Considering this fact, the MOT is going to establish and activate a statistical unit within its strategic planning arm, and this unit will gradually be linked electronically to all of the statistical units in Saudi Arabia’s various transport sector entities, in addition to all the different statistical authorities providing them with a data source.