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Insights What will Saudi Arabia's $147 billion expansion plan mean for the transport sector?

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is experiencing a period of transformation and the investment being injected into the country is on a level previously unseen. His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud announced in July 2021 that $147 billion (550 billion riyals) is set to fund the transport and logistics sectors over the next decade. If the targets are achieved, these sectors will contribute 10% of the country’s GDP by 2030, a 4% increase from current quotas.

Prince Mohammed is looking to transform the Kingdom into a global aviation hub, with intentions to diversify the economy from just crude oil exportation. With so much advancement on the horizon for the region, what will this investment mean for the transport sector?

image of inside Riyadh airport

What does the investment strategy include?

Prince Mohammed stated that one of the goals that officials want to implement includes establishing a 450km express train to link the cities of Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah which will connect the East and West of the Kingdom and the ports. In addition, the long-term plan is to join the Gulf-wide rail network, which will eventually connect Saudi Arabia with all six Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

Moreover, the government is seeking to expand existing airports in Jeddah and Riyadh and launch a new international airline as soon as possible. According to Bloomberg, the Kingdom’s existing national airline, Saudia, will retain a base in Jeddah that officials want to turn into a second hub for both religious and conventional tourism. A further part of the investment strategy includes the exploration of new rail technologies such as Hyperloop and Maglev, which provide high-speed rail services for both passengers and freight.

How does sustainability factor into the expansion plan?

With the impending climate crisis, Saudi Arabia’s investment plans mean that the country cannot afford to progress with their expansion plans without factoring in sustainability.

Saudi Vision 2030 is a roadmap of rapid expansion for all sectors in the built environment in Saudi Arabia and it is unlocking opportunities for growth at all levels. Within this strategy, there are Vision Realization Programs which set out Saudi Arabia’s intent to ‘improve the quality of life of residents and visitors… by developing the necessary environment to create more vibrant options that enhance the participation and experience of citizens and residents.’

As part of this, officials have also launched the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) which aims to ‘increase the Kingdom's share of renewable energy production, achieve a balance in the mix of local energy sources, and fulfil the Kingdom's obligations towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions'. Through the NREP, the Ministry of Energy aims to differentiate the national energy mix used in electricity production, increasing the share of natural gas and renewable energy sources by approximately half before 2030, while reducing the traditional use of liquid fuel.

What will this mean for the transport sector?

Transport in Saudi Arabia is going to experience exponential growth, particularly as the sector recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to develop these complex and high-profile projects, the Kingdom will need agile and optimised professionals who are seeking to make a real difference to the transport sector.

There has never been a better time to progress your quantity surveying career in Saudi Arabia, for example, as professionals will be required to oversee cost planning and estimating, value engineering, cash flow forecasts and tender services. With the anticipated major transport projects, there will be a wide scope of opportunities for quantity surveyors of all levels to use their skills and expertise, ensuring infrastructure, such as the Riyadh Metro project, is built focusing on safety, quality, sustainability, and value for money.

Alternatively, you could build your architecture career in Saudi Arabia. Architects at AtkinsRéalis use high-tech digital systems, innovative methodologies, and foster truly collaborative environments to enable the planning and delivery of transformational infrastructure developments.

Be part of Saudi Arabia’s transformational growth at AtkinsRéalis

Our vision at AtkinsRéalis is to create sustainable solutions that connect people, data and technology to design, deliver and operate the most complex projects for our clients so they are always one step ahead. Our approach to diversity is our strength, and we bring together global expertise in our Atkins, Faithful+Gould and Acuity brands, making transportation more intelligent, safe, and reliable than ever.

Whatever stage you are at in your career, there has never been a better time to join us. Browse our available transport roles today and watch your career flourish.

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