Home World The new £18 bn transport system hoping to clear a Middle Eastern...

The new £18 bn transport system hoping to clear a Middle Eastern country's reputation


Saudi Arabia is currently working on a brand-new transportation system for Riyadh City in an effort to bring money, tourism and political clout to the country. 

The Riyadh metro network is set to be an electric driverless public transit system of six metro lines spanning 85 stations, roughly 176 kilometers across the desert city. 

Considered a massive feat of engineering, the project is also expected to highlight’s Saudi Arabia’s commitment to modernity and advancing technology. 

“It’s also about image building, it shows that the country is progressive, it’s modern”, Yasser Elsheshtawy, professor of architecture at Columbia University, told the Wall Street Journal. 

Despite Saudi Arabia being under scrutiny on the international scene for human rights violatins, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salamn is aiming to turn that image around and make Riyadh an international business hub, which would double the population by 2030.

Riyadh’s metro network plans plays a key role in doing so; not only is it meant to transform the city from a car-centric area to a forward-thinking metropolis, it will also connect upcoming major development projects. 

In an effort to better their international reputation, Saudi Arabia is set to host the World Expo 2030, welcoming tens of millions of tourists frm 100 different countries, and is a likely front runner to host the 2034 World Cup. Both events have placed Riyadh at the centre of international interest, attracting billions of dollars in investments for construction projects such as stadiums. 

“When you look at all the mega-projects ongoing in Riyadh right now, they are not going to make sense whatsoever of there is no transportation network linking these developments together”, Esheshtawy explained. “So it’s a crucial element in Saudi’s 2030 vision to have the metro open very soon.”

The project is also set to contribute to reducing the number of car trips by nearly 250 thousand trips a day, amounting to 400 thousand liters of fuel per day. It is expected that the fimnished network will allow roughly 3.6 million passengers to travel each day.

The Riyadh metro network was originally set to open in 2019, an ambitious five years after construction started. However, complications in the process and the harsh effects of the pandemic have delayed it.

Engineering company working on the project Systra have announced that the new completion date should be by the end of 2023 or early 2024. 

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