Riyadh officials estimate that the population of Saudi Arabian capital could double to 14 million by 2030, newspaper Arab News reported this Wednesday (22). An 8% growth per year is expected.
“We are already adding 300,000 residents per year,” said Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh – the city’s planning and development authority. He talked to Arab News in Davos, Switzerland, where the World Economic Forum is taking place.
The city currently has a population of around 7 million and grows and has grown on average 4% per year over the past two decades. Due to the increased population growth, plans are afoot to make Riyadh into a “mega-metropolis.”
“Riyadh is already the biggest urban economy in the region (of the Middle East),” Rasheed said. “[But] what we’re going to see in Riyadh is an economic revolution the like of which the world has not seen,” Rashid added.
The Royal Commission is planning 424 initiatives of varying sizes over the next decade, and the estimated value amounts to USD 55 billion. The executive said the projects would be built via public and private sector initiatives, and foreign participation would be welcomed.
Last week, Arab News revealed that Khalaf Al-Habtoor, the United Arab Emirates property tycoon, was planning a huge development in Riyadh involving parks, hotels, lakes, and leisure facilities.
Some large-scale initiatives are already underway, such as Riyadh Metro and the King Abdullah Financial District. Rasheed said that these projects would be “soft-launched” in time for the G20 meeting to take place in the Saudi capital in November. The six-line metro alone has an estimated cost of USD 22.5 billion.
The master plan involves not just the infrastructure expansion but also a change of lifestyle and the city’s image, Arab News reported. “It is not just about growth, but about the quality of growth,” Rasheed said. “The aim is to make Riyadh a more sustainable, mobile and livable city, with family facilities, sports, events, health facilities and schools,” he stressed.
Other development is the Green Riyadh project, which involves the planting of a tree for each of the current population, making the city “as green as London” and helping reduce temperatures. The capital is in the middle of the desert.
The year of 2030 was set as the horizon of the pluriannual plan for opening and diversifying Saudi Arabian economy, which is currently under implementation, the Vision 2030. More