Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

'Space stations' to transform Riyadh in mega metro project

updated 10:50 PM EDT, Wed July 31, 2013
Construction of the Saudi Arabian capital's new metro system will begin next year. The King Abdullah Financial District station designed by Zaha Hadid Architects will be one of the most spectacular among 85 new stops. Construction of the Saudi Arabian capital's new metro system will begin next year. The King Abdullah Financial District station designed by Zaha Hadid Architects will be one of the most spectacular among 85 new stops.
HIDE CAPTION
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
Riyadh's futuristic metro system
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • $22 billion project to build new metro network in Saudi Arabian capital
  • 85 stations and 176 km of train lines will be built over five years
  • Currently only 2% of commuters in Riyadh use public transport
  • Zaha Hadid Architects have designed one of the flag-ship stations

(CNN) -- Can car-loving Saudis be convinced to step out of their air-conditioned comfort and take public transport?

The Saudi Arabian government believes they can and is backing its belief by investing $22 billion into a public transport mega-project in the capital Riyadh.

Set to begin construction early next year, a new metro network will encompass over 176 km (110 miles) of train lines and 85 stations, linking the city center to universities, the airport, a newly built financial district and commercial areas.

The first trains as slated to run in 2019. During construction, it will be the world's biggest public transport project, employing tens of thousands of people, developers say.

According to the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh, all carriages will be air-conditioned and divided into first, family and single class.

Buses and trains take a distant second to personal cars in Riyadh and according to FCC Construction only 2% of commuters in the Saudi Arabian capital take public transport.

It's no surprise because gasoline is highly subsidized -- a gallon at the petrol pumps costs around $0.50. According to Bloomberg, the world's largest oil producer ranks only second to Venezuela for the world's cheapest gasoline. According to reports, the Saudi government is weighing up increasingly the cost of fuel to give public transport a boost.

Read more: Ramadan's Super Bowl effect

Riyadh today is one of the world's fastest growing cities and our citizens deserve a world-class public transport system.
Ibrahim Bin Muhammad Al Sultan

Chronically underdeveloped until now, the expansion of public transport in the Saudi capital will also cope with the projected boom in the local population. It has more than doubled since 1990 to 5.3 million and is set to top 8 million by 2030.

"Riyadh today is one of the world's fastest growing cities and our citizens deserve a world-class public transport system to enhance their quality of life... it will also help to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality," said Ibrahim Bin Muhammad Al Sultan President of Arriyadh Development Authority and Member of the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh.

Of the six lines to be built, three will be constructed by Spain's FCC Construction company, working in partnership in a consortium including Samsung and Alstom. U.S. Firm Bechtel and Italian company Ansaldo STS lead the other two construction consortia.

Read more: Google's view from world's tallest building

As well as an extensive network, it is hoped that the stunning look of some the new stations will help to tempt locals away from their cars.

Zaha Hadid Architects will build the King Abdullah Financial District station, one of the flagship interchange stops along Line 1. With six platforms spread over four floors, and linking three of the new lines, the architects hope it will provide a multi-function public space.

According to the architects, the white facade of the station will reduce heat from the punishing desert sun while the undulating lines of the building are meant to resemble the patterns generated by desert winds on sand dunes.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:40 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Saudi Arabia is set to start construction on the world's tallest tower that will be one kilometer tall.
updated 10:44 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
You'll never guess where this record-breaking mural is.
updated 10:55 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
The Sea of Gallilee, where Christ reputedly walked on water, is today home to another miracle of sorts.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
In Syria, not all rebels carry guns, some carry cameras.
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
For three decades or so, Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul has been painting pensive, haunting images -- all of which are titled "Dream".
updated 11:23 PM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Before releasing an album most bands would talk about record sales. Egyptian band Cairokee talk about whether they will get arrested.
updated 12:04 AM EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
Dubai's most impressive monuments are looking a little psychedelic this week.
updated 10:24 PM EDT, Wed March 19, 2014
Volunteers and academics in exile hope The Free Syrian University can save a lost generation of students.
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Thu March 20, 2014
What would classic Hollywood films look like if reimagined as tradtional Ottoman art?
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Mon March 17, 2014
Nawal Ba Abbad on why its time to stop child marriage in Yemen.
ADVERTISEMENT