Saudi Arabia ‘plans to develop 17 cities’

Small and medium-sized urban areas are intended to reduce problems facing cities like Riyadh and Jeddah

PHOTO: Additional urban developments will reduce the population of major Saudi cities like Riyadh, authorities say. Credit: Shutterstock

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs intends to develop 17 small and medium-sized cities across the country, according to a local newspaper.

The move is geared towards improving planning, services and infrastructure facilities across all cities and regions of the kingdom, Saudi Gazette reported.

A four-year comprehensive study will be undertaken to set a model for town planning, said a ministry official quoted by the daily, who requested anonymity.

“We have selected 17 cities in different parts of the kingdom for the project on the basis of certain criteria including population, and geographical distribution,” the official said, adding that the project will reduce the population of major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Dammam.

The number of cities in Saudi Arabia has increased from 58 in 1963 to 285 in 2010, housing 83% of the total population, the newspaper said.

The new town planning project is designed in cooperation with the UN Human Settlement Program, and is intended to reduce city problems such as high population density, increased power consumption and underdeveloped residential districts.

Environmental protection and investments in remote cities are other major goals of the project, which is designed following recommendations made by the World Urban Forum, organised by the UN Habitat in Naples in 2012.

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