Saudi Arabia: New project will change urban landscape

Jul 8, 2010

UNDP and the Government of Saudi Arabia last month launched a new project that would guide the shape and pace of urbanization that is set to change the Kingdom’s development landscape over the next decade.

While past results of development in the country have been achieved through oil exports, the country has devised a long-term strategy leading, by 2025, to a greater mix of sectors in the economy, including new manufacturing industries and new universities for a strengthened knowledge base.

The project, signed on 23 June by UNDP and the Ministry for Municipalities and Rural Affairs, aims to develop Saudi Arabia’s National Spatial Strategy (NSS), part of efforts to manage the development of six new “economic cities” across the country. These cities would serve as foreign-investment zones for a new generation of high-tech and knowledge-oriented industries, to spread public services more evenly and broaden the scope and effectiveness of development policies among regions.

With about 60 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population below the age of 25 and expected population growth of 60 percent by 2025, the NSS supports policies covering inter-regional equity, economic diversification and employment needs for the growing youth population.

“Sustainable urbanization and effective land use planning is a major challenge in Saudi Arabia,” said UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Kishan Khoday, at the unveiling of the project that will develop and implement the NSS.

“As Saudi Arabia experiences high population growth and increasing pressures in social equity and environmental sustainability, it will be critical to adapt the NSS to emerging trends,” said Mr. Khoday. “This applies to both existing cities in the Kingdom and new economic cities.”

The NSS will provide principles and guidance on ways to translate the Kingdom’s 2025 strategy and the Ninth National Development Plan (2010-2015) into local actions that support development and address the social and environmental consequences of growth. Throughout the whole process, particular attention will be given to low-carbon approaches to urban planning.

Since its foundation in Riyadh in 1965, UNDP has supported the Saudi government meet its evolving development priorities and improve quality of life for all.

Contact Information

Yassin Hassan Yassin, Sr. Programme Associate, Tel: +966 1 488 5301 Ext. 347,

May Al-Faraj, Public Relations Assistant, Tel: +966 1 488 5301 Ext. 333,

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