The Government of Saudi Arabia, on 28 July 2013, announced that it awarded over 22 billion US dollar in contract for the development of metro line in the capital, Riyadh. This is said to be the largest public transport initiative of the world and will help in boosting the economy of Saudi Arabia considerably.
The metro line will join Dubai as well as Qatar in the expansion of the public transport networks. The contracts were awarded to Bechtel Group Inc. (9.4 billion US dollar), Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (7.8 billion US dollar) and Ansaldo STS SpA (STS) (5.2 billion US dollar).
Six driverless subway lines in all, will serve to the Riyadh’s city centre, universities, government facilities, commercial areas, financial district as well as airport. This will be a 175-kilometer (109-mile) network. The Vice-President of High Commission for the Development of Riyadh, Tarek al-Fares, announced that the project will take a total of five years to be completed. The project will be overseen by Arriyadh Development Authority, the government body.
Various architects won for their designs of the metro stations. Among the winning designs of metro stations were also the ones from Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.
It is important to note that the budget of Saudi Arabia for telecoms and transportation swelled 84 percent in 2013 to 17.3 billion US dollar, which is the fastest expansion since 2004.
The Longest Metro of the World
The planned project will be an 85-station network. It is said to be the longest metro of the world under construction. This will help in creating 15000 jobs over the time period of 5 years.
Scenario of the Persian Gulf Nations
• It is very important to note that the Persian Gulf nations are incurring billions of dollars for building their rail networks, ports as well as airports.
• Qatar, which is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, awarded four contracts of the value of around 30 billion riyals or 8.2 billion US dollar, for the first phase of Doha Metro in June 2013. Doha will also host 2022 soccer World Cup.
• Dubai, the second-biggest sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates, also constructed the first metro network in the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2009.
• As far as Riyadh is concerned, the population is projected to increase to 8.5 million people by 2023 from 6 million in 2013. Saudi Arabia is said to be the biggest Arab economy and it is spending over 500 billion US dollar for upgrading infrastructure as well as creation of jobs, while at the same time reducing its dependence on the hydrocarbons.
• Also, the Gulf Cooperation Council member states are already spending a considerable expense on the infrastructure projects, which are aimed at improvement of living standards as well as smoothing of the social discontent.
• Riyadh Metro Project also signifies that there is a shift in the thinking in terms of public transport as a means for saving gasoline.
• In the meanwhile, the Jeddah metro tender is also lined up to be awarded in 2013 itself.