5 Mega Projects in Riyadh

As an expat in Saudi Arabia, have you thought of how many years more are you staying in Saudi Arabia, if your work permits that is? I’ve been living and working in Saudi Arabia for 14 years now and honestly, I’ve been enjoying this prolonged stay (remember when all of us OFWs in the Kingdom told ourselves that we’ll only be staying for 2 years [1 contract])?! Well, look us at now! Haha. I told my family and friends that I want to see the major developments in the Kingdom come to life and come to fruition. As someone who saw Saudi Arabia ten years before and the changes it has undergone recently, I’m excited! There are so many projects, some mega and astonishing, that I would love to still be here in the Kingdom to see them. Don’t you? Vision 2030, hello!

Photo from https://www.rcrc.gov.sa/en/

There are so many ongoing projects, not only in Riyadh, but in almost all major parts of Saudi Arabia, that it gets confusing what’s being constructed, what’s being finalized and so on. We gathered the ones in Riyadh in this post. We’ll make another entry for the ones in other regions soon. Since we’re based in Riyadh, we’re biased towards the proejcts being done here because these are the ones we will be able to see immediately (and hopefully, afford to see haha).

1. RIYADH METRO

It was amazing to me, when I was new in Saudi Arabia in 2008, when my father said there was really no public transportation in Saudi Arabia. Everyone just have their own car. If you don’t have one, there’s the regular taxi but even then, not a lot of women ride them on their own. Where’s the LRT? MRT? They didn’t have one and so the Riyadh Metro is Saudi Arabia’s largest public transport project. Commenced in 2014, the Riyadh Metro is a part of the Riyadh Public Transport Project (RPTP), along with a bus system and other transport services.

The map of the Riyadh Metro

The Riyadh Metro is a 127km-long project with six lines that includes 85 underground, elevated, and at-grade stations. You’ve probably seen some of these stations on the roads of Riyadh already. They’re not yet operational. The Riyadh Metro lines are color-coded.

The Riyadh Metro Trains according to color lines
  • LINE 1 (BLUE LINE) – 38km-long from Olaya Street to Al Hayer Road, includes 22 stations and four transfer stations to other metro lines. This will probably the main hub as it will run in the main central Riyadh area.
  • LINE 2 (RED LINE) – 25.3km-long connecting King Abdullah Road to the King Fahd Stadium, includes 13 stations with three transfer stations
  • LINE 3 (ORANGE LINE) – 40.7km-long from Madina Al Munawra to Rahman Al Awal Road, considered as the longest metro line
  • LINE 4 (YELLOW LINE) – 29km-long running from the Kings Khaled International Airport to the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), includes eight
  • LINE 5 (GREEN LINE) – 13km-long starting from King Abdulaziz Road, includes 11 stations and two transfer stations
  • LINE 6 (PURPLE LINE) – 21km-long starting from KAFD to Prince Saad Ibn Abdulrahman Al Awal Road, includes six stations that are mostly above ground
The KAFD Riyadh Metro station

The Riyadh Metro was slated to have been finished in 2020 but the pandemic has derailed these plans and the project is still ongoing. It is nearing completion though so that’s exciting. The bus system that was put in place to cater to the Riyadh Metro passengers was also announced to open last September 2021 but almost one year later, they are still testing the buses and their routes. For sure, you’ve seen these passenger-less green buses plying the Riyadh roads for a year or more now. There was a Riyadh Metro Center before that people can visit to learn more about the project and see the trains but it’s already closed. We can’t wait to see and ride the Riyadh Metro trains!


2. DIRIYAH

We’ve seen Diriyah before the changes and it seemed so long ago that we can’t even remember what it looked like before. I remember Bujairi but that’s it. We’ve seen Diriyah again when we went to a private tour of Al-Turaif. Now, the entire district, known as the “land of kings and heroes”, is being transformed into one of the world’s foremost lifestyle destinations for culture, heritage, and hospitality. There’s also so much going on in this area that we’re awestruck just looking at the plans. Imagine just 20 minutes away from Riyadh’s center, we’ll have one of the world’s great gathering places!

The heart of Diriyah is the At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site, an iconic mud-brick city that is the home of the First House of the Al Saud family. Considered as the capital of the First Saudi State, this place is preserved and restored for future generations. Here, citizens, residents, and guests will learn about Saudi Arabia’s history through a stroll in the restrored period village and visits to the museums and cultural institutes specializing in Najdi architecture, poetry, falconry, dance, music and more. The Diriyah Development will also feature several world-class academies and the King Salman University.

Diriyah Square

The Diriyah Square is set to become the Kingdom’s largest lifestyle shopping destination featuring international retail and leisure brands plus over 100 restaurants that are set in urban spaces and wadi vistas. Authentic Saudi hospitality will surely shine when the Kingdom’s most luxurious hotels and resorts will open in Diriyah.

The ultimate destination in Diriyah

The Samhan Heritage Hotel, nestled among the natural beauty of Bujairi and Wadi Hanifah, a 2 km2 natural palm grove, will give the feeling of traveling back in Saudi time as it welcomes guests with its over 140 Najdi-styled rooms and suites. Over 20 luxe hotels are said to be opening in Diriyah including Armani, Raffles, Address, Baccarat, Six Senses, and Four Seasons. Whoahhhh! There will also be business and residential areas in Diriyah and just imagine living and working in this wellness and active community! (Sana ma-afford natin diba haha!)


3. KING SALMAN PARK

A park in Riyadh that is four times bigger than New York’s Central Park… we mean… wow right? That’s the King Salman Park project! Being built on a 16 km2 area, the park considered as Riyadh’s green lung is a destination for arts, culture, sports, entertainment, and innovation surrounded by nature. Truly the oasis in the middle of the central Saudi! So what will be included in what will become as the “world’s largest urban park” you ask? Well:

The vision for King Salman Park
  • Royal Art Complex, which includes a 2500-capacity national theater, 5 museums, 8000-capacity outdoor theater, 3 cinema halls, 4 art academies
  • Green areas, open spaces, gardens,
  • 7 cultural museums for aviation, astronomy and space, science, plants, virtual reality, and architecture
  • Plazas
  • Royal golf course
  • Sports complex with a sky diving center, VR courts, equestrian center, running and biking routes, amusement park, aquapark, family amusement center, towers and skybridges
  • Visitor center with interactive shows, multi-purpose halls, a meeting room, a plant nursery, coffee shops and restaurants
  • Residential compounds
  • 16 hotels
  • Public libraries
  • Parking spaces

The King Salman Park aims to improve the quality of life in Riyadh in line with the country’s Vision 2030.


4. QIDDIYA

When Qiddiya happens, we’ll probably second guess what we’ll be seeing. Is it a mirage in the desert? Because just imagine building the world’s capital of entertainment, sports, and arts in what we have been seeing as a desert escarpment all these years! What level of engineering! Qiddiya has five cornerstones: Sports & Wellness; Nature & Environment; Parks & Attractions; Motion & Mobility; and Arts & Culture, and they will all provide innovative and immersive experiences. The groundbreaking for this project happened on April 28, 2018.

The site of Qiddiya

Qiddiya will bring Six Flags to the Kingdom! It will feature recordbreaking rides. It will also have the Kingdom’s first and largest water theme park. Qiddiya will also have a stadium, two golf courses, aquatic center, and a kids and female sports centers. With its aim to become the world’s motorsports capital, Qiddiya will also have multi-use race tracks, speed parks and motor-tech parks. The grounds will also see festivals, multiplex cinemas, courtyards and plazas. The desert ecosystem of Diriyah will give guests the opportunities to have animal encounters and do outdoor exporations.

It looks so futuristic!

Qiddiya is truly the “new future for Riyadh”.


5. SPORTS BOULEVARD

Looking at the design code of the Sports Boulevard, it will definitely change the landscape of Riyadh as we know it. Just like what KAFD did, this project will change the way we see the city. The Sports Boulevard, a 135-km lifestyle destination situated in the heart of Riyadh, will help ensure that Riyadh will be recognized as one of the world’s top livable cities by 2030. It is set to become the “longest linear park” in the world that starts on Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin ABdulaziz Road and connects Wadi Hanifah in the West and Wadi Al Sulai in the East. It will be composed of greenery and open spaces and up to 50 multidisciplinary sports facilities. There will be artistic landmarks scattered in unique districts and investment zones that include a Cycling Bridge, Hanifah Valley District, Arts District, and The Promenade.

The Design Code for the Sports Boulevard is a reference for all current and potential commercial and residential property owners, developers, and investors. This will harmonize the design patterns and paths of the Sports Boulevard for pedestrians, cyclists, and even horse rides. We contributed to DQ Living Magazine and wrote more about the Sports Boulevard here.

What the future looks like for Riyadh

Most of the RIyadh projects are under the Royal Commission for Riyadh City. Other notable ongoing projects include the Riyadh Art Project, Green Riyadh Project, Diplomatic Quarter Development Program, Salam Park Project, and more!

There are just so many construction going on in Riyadh that we seem to be living and working with them side-by-side hoping that one day, we will see all of these projects come to life and we’ll still be part of this community that will be able to enjoy them.

You’re doing well, Riyadh!

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Janelle

The Editor-in-Chief speaks 7 languages: Filipino, English, Wit, Sarcasm, Truth, Creativity, and The Pink Tarha.

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