Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

'Space stations' to transform Riyadh in mega metro project

August 1, 2013 -- Updated 0250 GMT (1050 HKT)
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
July 2, 2014 -- Updated 0736 GMT (1536 HKT)
How will the elevators work in the world's tallest building?
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT)
When Saher Shaikh first moved to Dubai, the rights of the city's labor population was the furthest thing from her mind.
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 1000 GMT (1800 HKT)
It's not quite greening the desert, but an ambitious plan for an underground park could transform Abu Dhabi.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1106 GMT (1906 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wedeman explores ancient footpaths in the wilds of the West Bank.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1051 GMT (1851 HKT)
Inside the Middle East meets photographer Garo Nalbandian who has captured life in Jerusalem's Old City for more than half a century.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
The Middle East's is home to some of the world's most endangered animals.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT)
Archaeoastronomers (yes, there is such a job) think they know why Petra was built the way it was.
May 15, 2014 -- Updated 0340 GMT (1140 HKT)
What's it like to stay in Wadi Rum, one of the world's most stunning natural wonders?
May 1, 2014 -- Updated 0449 GMT (1249 HKT)
The British Museum in London has taken a unique look under the bandages of its mummies using CT scans.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0237 GMT (1037 HKT)
Explore the attitudes to Hollywood films from six different countries in the region.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Saudi Arabia is set to start construction on the world's tallest tower that will be one kilometer tall.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 0244 GMT (1044 HKT)
You'll never guess where this record-breaking mural is.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 0255 GMT (1055 HKT)
The Sea of Gallilee, where Christ reputedly walked on water, is today home to another miracle of sorts.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
In Syria, not all rebels carry guns, some carry cameras.
ADVERTISEMENT