Interview: Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
What projects are planned for Riyadh that will bolster its standing among global metropoles?
PRINCE FAISAL BIN BANDAR BIN ABDULAZIZ AL SAUD: Riyadh already enjoys prominence in its role as the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the cradle of Islam, as it is the centre for the Kingdom’s administrative, economic, diplomatic and cultural institutions. The city’s development is part of the overall development we are seeing across the Kingdom and will help Saudi Arabia in achieving its national goals.
Development in Riyadh is not concentrated in a few sectors, but covers many vital sectors. Several key projects in Riyadh focus on upgrading the city’s transport networks and capabilities. 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. There is also the King Khalid International Airport Expansion Project, and railway development and expressways projects. Meanwhile, the construction of the King Abdullah Financial District and the Information Technology and Communications City will make Riyadh a financial services and technology centre. Moreover, there are projects relating to health, education, environment and utilities infrastructure, in addition to housing and real estate development. Also planned are a range of projects related to trade and social life, including commerce, industry, economics, media, sports, recreation and tourism. There are 5000 projects taking place in the region at a total cost of SR509bn ($135.7bn).
What role is the private sector playing in the implementation of the Riyadh Metro project?
PRINCE FAISAL: The Riyadh Metro will change the city, not just in terms of easier transport flows and reduced traffic bottlenecks, but also an improved landscape and economy. The ADA has prepared itself for the challenge of building such a large project quickly, while still ensuring quality. To do this the ADA has brought together leading global companies across a wide range of specialties to help implement global standards and install technology, including automated, driverless trains and modern, high-quality passenger cars.
The metro is set to be the backbone of the public transport system, comprising six lines with a total length of 176 km and 85 stations. It will be linked to King Khalid International Airport, King Abdullah Financial Centre, the city’s main university campuses, the city centre and other key transport intersections.
The bus system constitutes the second crucial part of the project, which involves building a well-integrated bus transport network of 22 routes covering 1200 km in the whole city. Recently, a contract to procure, operate and maintain the bus network was signed with a consortium comprising Saudi Public Transport Company and France’s RATP, which has significant experience establishing and operating multi-modal transport networks in a number of major cities around the world. This project is a rare investment opportunity and there will be opportunities for private sector participation both during the current phases of construction and in the post-operation phase, by the end of 2018.
How do ADA and other government institutions work to ensure sustainability as Riyadh grows?
PRINCE FAISAL: The government views economic development and sustainable growth in tandem, by focusing on upgrading human capital, diversifying income sources, promoting modern infrastructure to accommodate the demands of development and supporting environmental protection programmes. In this regard, the ADA has drafted the Strategic and Comprehensive Masterplan of Riyadh to organise future civic and economic development through a range of strategic programmes, which are to be executed in collaboration with different authorities. The plan includes projects like the environmental rehabilitation of Wadi Hanifah, Silay Valley and Al Hair Lakes. It also calls for construction 100 municipal parks throughout the city and the development of plazas and pedestrian walkways to create open spaces for the citizenry to enjoy.
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