Interview: Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
How is Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) positioning Riyadh in terms of its position within the governorate, as well as its role as capital?
PRINCE TURKI BIN ABDULLAH BIN ABDULAZIZ AL SAUD: Riyadh is the national capital, the prime metropolitan area of the Gulf region, and home to the headquarters of several regional and international organisations; however, we aim to further enhance its standing. The government has positioned Riyadh as a regional capital with the implementation of key developments such as the King Abdullah Financial District. The regional leadership role will be supported by major infrastructure projects, including the King Abdulaziz Public Transportation Programme, the expansion of King Khalid International Airport and the regional rail network, which is planned to span from east to west and north to south of the Kingdom, with Riyadh as the hub. Building a modern transport system for Riyadh– including a comprehensive public transport network, linking suburban centres, commercial and employment nodes, and higher education facilities – will make it an increasingly attractive destination for local and international investment across a broad range of sectors.
Ongoing regional investments, as well as those planned for the city, will create jobs and provide opportunities for businesses. We are looking to maximise the flow-on effects associated with the development of public transport systems on the local economy, by getting the greatest local economic benefit from the production, operation and maintenance of the system.
We are particularly interested in focusing on those clean, value-added activities that help support and sustain a modern city, such as ICT.
What steps are being taken to create jobs and manage urban spread around the capital?
PRINCE TURKI: Creating jobs and managing urban spread around the capital are two of the major goals of the Metropolitan Development Strategic Arriyadh (MEDSTAR), which was prepared by the ADA in 2003 and updated in 2011. This plan includes an economic development element that focuses on attracting investments and creating jobs. The structure plan focuses on organising urban growth and controlling urban sprawl around the city. In order to accomplish this, officials are promoting development along several higher-density activity “spines”, which link urban sub-centres and extend out into new suburbs. These spines are being served by our high-capacity public transport network. The aim is to allow balanced growth, centred on areas that have good infrastructure, accessibility, job opportunities and community services.
Centres have been established, including the King Abdullah Financial District and the Riyadh Technology Valley at King Saud University. These will house 70,000 mostly new, high value-added jobs, and more will evolve as planning and development continues.
What role will the Riyadh Metro play in the capital’s overall push to improve and modernise its infrastructure? How will it link to other modes of transport?
PRINCE TURKI: The King Abdulaziz Project for Public Transport (Metro & Buses) complements an extensive highway network for cars, trucks and buses. Many metro and bus stations will have park-and-ride facilities to provide car access to the public transport system from outer areas. Where possible, stations and park-and-ride facilities will be part of joint-use developments linked into surrounding neighbourhoods, providing new commercial and community facilities. The public transport system will be served by IT and communications infrastructure that optimises the management of the system and gives travellers up-to-date information on traffic conditions and public transport services. Through our transit-oriented development philosophy, the government sees the metro and bus projects as an opportunity to improve the quality of life in the capital. This will be supported by the renewal programme for older areas, where new transport facilities will stimulate improved land use and urban design, landscaping and better pedestrian access to facilities.
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