$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

An aerial view shows King Abdullah Finance City and the northern ring road which remains empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on May 24, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 06 July 2020

$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

  • Saudi capital’s planning chief unveils ambitious strategy ahead of G20 urban development summit
  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is launching a SR3 trillion ($800 billion) plan to double the size of Riyadh in the next decade and transform it into an economic, social and cultural hub for the region.

The ambitious strategy for the capital city was unveiled by Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, ahead of key meetings of the U20, the arm of the G20 leaders’ summit that deals with urban development and strategy.

“Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” he told Arab News.

“We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens.”

 

About $250 billion in investment is expected from the private sector, with the same amount generated by increased economic activity from population growth, finance and banking, cultural and desert tourism, and leisure events.

 

“We must also ensure the growth is managed properly, so there will be a focus on transport and logistics, including the Riyadh metro which will open at the beginning of next year. The aim is to increase productivity,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plan involves the creation of a “mega industrial zone” focusing on advanced technology such as renewables and automation, and biotechnology and aquaponics. Another key feature is sustainability, with energy conservation, the circular carbon economy with its emphasis on reducing emissions, and water management, all priorities.

“You will see 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years, and King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London,” Al-Rasheed said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion.
  • 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years.
  • King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

The city also aims to be a Middle East artistic and cultural hub. An opera house is being considered, as well as public art shows with 1,000 works commissioned from around the world. “We have not seen anything like it since Renaissance Florence,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plans will be discussed this week during online meetings of the U20 linking Riyadh with Houston. The Texas oil capital is suffering a new spike in coronavirus cases and pandemics will be on the agenda. “We want to deal with this one, but also be ready for the next one,” Al-Rasheed said.


Saudi Arabia working on coronavirus vaccine with Chinese company

Updated 10 August 2020

Saudi Arabia working on coronavirus vaccine with Chinese company

JEDDAH: The third phase of a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial is to be carried out on at least 5,000 volunteers in Saudi Arabia after clearing mid-stage tests.
In an effort to expedite vaccines against coronavirus, the Ministry of Health announced its preparedness to launch the third phase in health centers across Riyadh, Makkah and Dammam. The clinical trials come as part of a ministry agreement with the Chinese vaccine developing company CanSino.
The findings of the first randomized controlled trial, published in The Lancet, resulted in the vaccine appearing to be safe and inducing a significant immune response in the majority of recipients in the second phase.
The vaccine uses a harmless cold virus, known as adenovirus type-5 (Ad5), to carry genetic material from coronavirus into the body.The volunteers will be over the age of 18.
Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly told a press conference on Sunday that epidemiological analysis had shown a fluctuation in confirmed coronavirus cases, with a slight increase potentially caused by social gatherings during Eid Al-Adha that did not adhere to health protocols.

“These numbers are currently at a slight increase, but they are not a cause of major concern (at the moment) for outbreaks or clusters,” the spokesman said.
Estimates of COVID-19 patients needing critical care have decreased in the past three days and the current curve shows a 5.5 percent decrease in admissions. There are currently 1,816 patients in Saudi Arabia receiving critical care.
The Kingdom recorded 1,428 new cases on Sunday, raising the total number of infections to 288,690 since the beginning of the pandemic.
There were 1,599 new recoveries, raising the total number of recoveries to 252,039. There are currently 33,484 active cases.
Saudi Arabia recorded 37 new fatalities on Sunday, raising the coronavirus death toll to  3,167.
There have been 58,424 polymerase chain reaction tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to over 3.8 million.