Middle East

Saudi Arabia shows big vision and investment as it bids for Expo 2030

Saudi Arabia says its capital city will double in size and population, as $800bn worth of investment goes into its Vision 2030 development plan and the kingdom bids to host Expo 2030 world fair.

The bid is part of the kingdom’s overall plan to diversify the economy to wean it off oil export revenues.

Around $8bn is expected to be invested in the construction of an Expo site and Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of Riyadh’s royal commission, said that part of the plan was to build the largest transport network in the world. “We are building the largest airport in the world, and over 30 mega-projects as we speak are being constructed, so the city is a hive of economic activity,” Al-Rasheed told reporters during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

An additional 120,000 hotel rooms are part of the project, but are needed to meet tourism goals, regardless of the 2030 Expo.

The host country for the 2030 Expo should be selected in November and Italy’s Rome, South Korea’s Busan and Ukraine’s Odesa are on the short list alongside Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is keen to accentuate social reforms being introduced to modernise the country, the birthplace of Islam, which have so far include lifting a ban on women driving and permitting public entertainment like concerts. The kingdom is likely to face ongoing criticism of its human rights record, nevertheless, of the kind directed at Qatar last year during its hosting of the World Cup.

If Saudi Arabia does win its bid it would be the second Arab country to host Expo after the United Arab Emirates.

Riyadh’s Expo 2030 narrative is of a story of an unprecedented national transformation and its leaders say that with global efforts centring around the UN’s Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which increasingly require the collaborative efforts of both governments and communities, Riyadh Expo 2030 can be a moment to reflect on the results of the SDG 2030 and plan on delivering the set of global goals for the next 20 years.

Organisers of the Saudi bid say they would expect 40m site visits to Expo 2030, with the site extending over six million sqm. They expect 226 participants organised in country pavilions, and with numerous international organisations taking part.

The Expo site itself would be constructed in the north of Riyadh (which means ‘gardens’ in Arabic), approximately 10 minutes’ drive from King Khalid International Airport.

Saudi Arabia is among top 20 economies in the world and No.1 in Middle East, and the kingdom has recently hosted major events including F1, Saudi Design Festival, MDLBEAST and Riyadh Season. New visa initiative have accompanied the drive to bring in more global events.

More information on the Riyadh Expo 2030 bid here

Source: www.exhibitionworld.co.uk

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