Empowering Sustainable Urbanization: MoMRAH and UNDP Join Hands in Saudi Arabia

October 2, 2023

In a remarkable event held at the Cityscape Global Exhibition in Riyadh on the 11th of September 2023, a great partnership was solidified between the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing and the United Nations Development Programme. Represented H.E. Mr. Majid Al-Hogail and by Ms. Nahid Hussein respectively, this partnership marks the commencement of a transformative project with a focus on "Support to The Spatial Planning Reform and Visual Appeal Program in Saudi Arabia." Over the course of three years, this initiative aims to enable systemic municipal and planning reforms and provide essential implementation and capacity-building support for the sustainable urbanization of Saudi cities.

The project's overarching goal is clear: to reinforce the Spatial Planning Reform and Visual Appeal Program in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This ambitious endeavor seeks to achieve six critical outcomes, each designed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of urban development and planning practices within the nation:

1. Delivering International Best Practices: The project aims to ensure that regional plans, local plans, and urban codes adhere to international best practices, setting a high standard for Saudi Arabia's urban development.

2. Activating the Public Realm: By igniting the Public Realm Program, this project lays the foundation for effective public realm developments, enriching the quality of life for Saudi citizens.

3. Empowering Local Planning Departments: Through a new Operating Model for Planning Departments, the initiative empowers and enables local planning departments to better serve their communities.

4. Enhancing the Municipal System: The project seeks to improve and restructure the municipal system, updating settlement boundaries, revising classification, and optimizing service delivery for greater efficiency and sustainability.

5. Restructuring the Planning Framework: The Saudi planning framework will undergo a significant overhaul, with planning tools redefined, updated, and improved in alignment with new classification and categorization standards. Additionally, new tools will be introduced to support implementation and capacity-building efforts.

6. Upscaling the MoMRAH Urban Design Studio: The existing MoMRAH Urban Design Studio will evolve into a fully-fledged Urban Lab, equipped to spearhead innovative projects and serve as a hub for satellite Labs supporting MoMRAH's mission.

To accomplish these ambitious objectives, the project will leverage the combined strengths of UNDP and UN-HABITAT. Their role as knowledge providers, capacity builders, and facilitators of partnerships at the local, regional, and global levels positions them perfectly to provide substantive technical assistance, advisory services, and quality assurance to MoMRAH.


MoMRAH Team and UNDP Team join MoMRAH Minster H.E. Mr. Majid Al-Hogail and UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Nahid Hussein at the signing of the new project. (L-R) Abdulrahman Alghamdi (Programme Analyst at UNDP), Dr. Ayman Elhefnawi (Team Leader at UN-Habitat), Ms. Nahid Hussein (Resident Representative of UNDP), H.E. Mr. Majid Al-Hogail (Minister at MoMRAH), Fahad Almutlaq (Deputy Minister of Spatial Planning). Hatem Alkhathlan (Assistant Deputy Minister of Spatial Planning), Abdulaziz bin Mohammad Al-Saman ( General Supervisor of the General Administration for Partnerships and International Cooperation at MoMRAH) . Photo Credit: UNDP KSA Country Office, 2023.


As the project unfolds over the next three years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can look forward to a brighter urban future. With a focus on sustainable urbanization, enhanced planning practices, and empowered local departments, this partnership between UNDP, UN-HABITAT, and MoMRAH promises to be a catalyst for positive change, shaping Saudi cities into models of efficiency and livability.