Transport holds the key to transforming the Arabian Peninsula’s cities

Transport holds the key to transforming the Arabian Peninsula’s cities
Transport holds the key to transforming the Arabian Peninsula’s cities

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Transport holds the key to transforming the Arabian Peninsula’s cities in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - By Olivier Badard

Wherever you look in the world, cities are grappling with how to develop cleaner, cheaper and easier modes of transport. Whilst each municipality has its distinct characteristics and challenges, using the ‘means’ of transportation to provide the ‘ends’ of a higher quality of life remains constant. This week delegates gather at The Railway Conference 2020 in Riyadh to share ideas and debate this ambition. I believe that cities across the Middle East are able to show the world how clean, green, bold transport solutions can create the cities of the future.

Estimates suggest that by 2050, the global population will be 9.7bn, with 6bn of those living in urban environments that account for two-thirds of energy consumption and 70% of total greenhouse gas emissions. According to UNICEF, half the countries comprising the MENA region are forecast to see a 50% population increase. Furthermore, given the especially young nature of the region’s population, there is the potential for an ‘economic dividend’ in the coming decades as those young workers enter the most economically productive years of their career.

Given this potential and given that much of this economic potential will be realized in the Middle Eastern cities, transport must be central to these plans. High quality transport networks reduce business costs, increase private sector investment and boost cities’ attractiveness for both domestic and international investors. In recognition of this, we are already seeing governments and transport authorities across the region commit time, money and resources to introducing some of the world’s most high-tech, innovative transport solutions.

In Riyadh, under the leadership of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and the Public Transport Authority, RATP Dev is proud to have participated in the city’s introduction of both a modern bus network consisting of 100+ routes and the operation & maintenance of a six-line, automated metro system meeting the highest international standards.

These major projects have already and will continue to create thousands of highly skilled or technical jobs, whilst providing the infrastructure for enabling thousands more, contributing significantly towards the Kingdom’s much prized Saudization efforts.

The progress has been remarkable. Riyadh is headed from no public transport systems to 176km of driverless train routes and the upcoming introduction of more than 1,000 buses to the roadways in the space of a decade. It marks the rise of a public transport system that opens to unique multimodal capabilities ranging from bus, metro to tramway and suburban, and to seamless and efficient integration.

In addition to its economic potential, developing high-tech, clean transport will be essential in ‘greening’ our cities, as part of wider efforts to combatting the climate change threat. Globally, transport emissions accounted for over 24% of global CO2 emissions in 2016 and could reach 40% by 2030 without immediate action. Conversely, only 4% of energy consumption in the transport sector came from renewables. This number can and must be significantly improved.

Not only does this represent an important responsibility for every city in the world but also a major opportunity for Arabian Peninsula cities to lead by example. Projects such as the Riyadh and metros represent concerted efforts to get commuters out of their cars an onto more environmentally friendly alternatives. The relative youth of the cities here and the clear political will to heavily invest in state-of-the-art — even futuristic — transport solutions are a powerful combination for creating an environment packed with ground-breaking innovation and cutting-edge commercial opportunities.

The reward will be high-quality living environments that attract young people from across the region and beyond. Businesses, already drawn by a young population and market growth, will have another powerful incentive in the form of a high-quality transport network acting as a spur to invest. Through transport, the Arabian Peninsula has a golden opportunity to develop the clean, green, high-tech cities of the future as an example for the whole world to follow.

— The writer is CEO RATP Dev Asia-Pacific, Middle East & North Africa

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