Saudi maps great economic future
Manama, November 30, 2007
Saudi Arabia has ambitious future plans to cement its place as the Gulf's economic powerhouse.
Saudi Arabia's former ambassador to the United States yesterday used an address made in Bahrain to set out these plans.
Prince Turki Al Faisal said the construction of vast 'economic cities', major upgrades to transport infrastructure, a drive towards increased homeownership and a firm emphasis on the importance of education would see the kingdom reach the lifestyle standards of the world's major industrial countries in the near future.
"Saudi Arabia will be an industrial country with the full infrastructure for a better future based on a strong economy and better citizens," he told delegates in a keynote address at the Global Asset Allocation event hosted by wealth management firm The Family Office at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Spa.
Central to the country's bold economic vision will be the building of new cities - in some cases from scratch - such as the already begun King Abdullah Economic City project.
Prince Turki, who served as Saudi ambassador to the US for 15 months in 2005-06 and is presently chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, elaborated on the vast scale of such developments.
"King Abdullah Economic City on the west coast will cover 55 million sq m and is 35km in length - and with the co-operation of the relevant authorities it will attract serious foreign investment.
"It will feature a port of 2.6m sq m which will accept the biggest vessels, an 8m sq m industrial area for industry of all sizes, resorts with 3,500 hotel rooms and a host of entertainment, a financial island that will aim to attract major financial institutions, residential buildings and an education city focusing on establishing schools and institutions to develop the talents of the Saudi young people to serve the economy," he said.
This new generation of huge city-size developments will be linked by a vastly improved road, rail and air network, he said.
"We will complete a railway between the west and the east of the kingdom - starting in Jeddah finishing in King Abdul Aziz port in Dammam and going through Riyadh and the Eastern Province."
Other work will see a comprehensive expressway network for cars constructed, improved air links and even an electrical tram between Riyadh and Mecca.
This improved connectivity will breathe life into the more remote parts of the country and aid social cohesion, the Prince said.
"All these extensions will contribute to an economic drive that will help expand industrial and economic performance and activate the agricultural areas and areas far from the cities.
"This network will give us more cities and will generate life into rural and remote areas and make them grow to become bigger centres like Riyadh and Jeddah," he said.
"The social situation will be better with less poverty, with less restrictions and an increase of interactivity among people from different areas," he said.
He said Saudi Arabia welcomed the contribution of 'friendly countries' as it seeks to boost its cultural scene by building more galleries and libraries, and revealed plans were afoot for the construction of centres of European, Chinese and American studies respectively.
"The future will be full of economic activities with the participation of the private sector in various fields lessening the burden on the government. That will help us to have more factories, more industries and more opportunities for innovation and creativity," he said. "All Saudi citizens, men and women, will be participating in this march that gives the Saudi citizens their rights in building the future of their country and their own future," he said. -TradeArabia News Service