Interview: Prince Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud
How is Riyadh developing as a city given the current economic conditions?
PRINCE FAISAL BIN BANDAR AL SAUD: Riyadh plays a leading role as the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, thereby functioning as the main centre for national administrative, economic and cultural institutions. It also hosts the diplomatic missions in the country.
There are a wide variety of projects and mega-development programmes that will, once completed, constitute a major breakthrough in the development of the city, the region and the Kingdom.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the development boom in Riyadh is that it does not pertain to just one particular part of city or region, but covers the whole city and its entire economy. According to the 11th report of the Follow-up Programme for Riyadh Region Projects issued by the Arriyadh Development Authority, the number of projects being undertaken this year is 3946, with a total cost of more than SR432bn ($115.2bn). Major projects are under way in various sectors, including health, education, environment, infrastructure, real estate, commerce, industry, science, sports, culture and tourism.
The most significant of these projects are the King Abdulaziz Public Transport Project – which will create an interconnected metro and bus network – the expansion of King Khalid International Airport, the regional railway and road networks projects, and the financial and technology cities projects, particularly the development of the King Abdullah Financial District. Each of them will contribute to strengthening the leading role of Riyadh in the Kingdom and the region, and will help us to meet the aspirations and needs of the population and visitors.
What assets and resources does Riyadh offer that stimulate private sector investment in the city?
PRINCE FAISAL: In addition to its strategic position at the centre of the country, and in turn the continents of the world, the city of Riyadh enjoys a great deal of political, administrative, economic and technical assets. Its demographic composition largely consists of young and ambitious people.
The Riyadh Region enjoys a variety of economic assets that promote and attract investment. At the forefront of these are high government spending, large amounts of capital, active markets, modern infrastructure, vast human resources, and prosperous commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors, all of which have created a stable and secure investment environment. The launch of a series of large-scale governmental and private sector projects in many different industries has opened up various opportunities for the private sector and has ensured steady growth. This has all made Riyadh a preferred destination for pilot projects and secure investment in all sectors for serious investors from around the world.
What impact will the King Abdulaziz Public Transport Project have on Riyadh’s economy?
PRINCE FAISAL: The mega-project is one of the most important in the Kingdom right now. By the third quarter of 2016, 40% of the project had been completed across more than 200 locations throughout the city. The Arriyadh Development Authority is undertaking the implementation of the project through three global consortia: BACS, ANM and FAST. The Riyadh metro network comprises six lines, totalling 176 km in length and 85 stations, including four main stations. The project also includes a bus network, comprising 24 lines which cover 1200 km of the city. It will deploy over 1000 buses of different sizes and capacities and will be integrated with the metro network and other means of transport. This project will change the way of life in Riyadh and develop the city’s public image the city, not only by reducing traffic but also by contributing positively to the economic, physical, social, health and environmental aspects of the city.
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