VIDEO: The social impact of Saudi Arabia's Riyadh Metro

The social impact of Saudi Arabia's Riyadh Metro 

by Neha Bhatia on Jun 21, 2018 

As Construction Week’s audience will agree, Riyadh Metro is one of the most important projects currently being built in Saudi Arabia.

Six metro lines, named Blue, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Purple are being developed as part of Arriyadh Development Authority’s (ADA) project, which is worth approximately $23bn (SAR86.3bn). The lines are respectively 38km, 25.3km, 40.7km, 29.6km, 12.9km, and 30km long.

Riyadh Metro will significantly impact Saudi Arabia socially and economically upon its completion. 

Upon completion, the metro network will link Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport and the King Abdullah Financial Centre (KAFC), as well as connect with universities and other mass-transport systems in the cities.

During an interview with Construction Week in 2016, Eng Alwalid Alekrish, director of construction development projects and project director of the Riyadh Metro at ADA, said “not only [Riyadh], but the entire kingdom will reap its rewards when the metro is completed”.

He added: “The surprise will be when a large number of people from all social classes want to use the metro.”

Indeed, Riyadh Metro is an ambitious project for many reasons, not least of which is the transport culture in the Middle East. Last February, Khalid Alhazani, director of the architectural project program and public affairs at ADA, acknowledged that Saudis would require time to “get used to” the concept of a project such as Riyadh Metro.

He added: “This is the first metro project in the kingdom; people in Riyadh don’t have experience in public transportation. It will take time for people to get used to public transportation.”

However, Riyadh Metro's impact will extend beyond the “surprise” and acclimatisation that ADA’s Alekrish and Alhazani spoke of. In Knight Frank’s June 2018 report, titled The Impact of New Infrastructure on Real Estate Values, Raya Majdalani, research manager at the advisory, says the transport project will not only influence the property sector’s performance in Riyadh, but impact its socio-economic variables as well.

“In the short to medium term, we believe that urban regeneration will need to play an increasingly important role across Saudi Arabia,” Majdalani explains.

“Recently introduced strategic reforms, aimed at creating a favourable environment for investment and strengthening the non-oil sector, have placed a focus on real estate, which is forecast to double its contribution to economic output throughout the period to 2030.

“Moreover the implementation of various urban regeneration initiatives, including mixed-use communities and large-scale infrastructure projects, are expected to act as catalysts for the real estate market.”

Majdalani describes Riyadh Metro as “one of the key infrastructure projects” under way in the kingdom, which will “dramatically alter the dynamics of both residential and commercial real estate markets when delivered”.