Riyadh hopes heavy investment in its infrastructure – from public transport to business, education and the arts – will boost its bid for World Expo 2030.
The city of Riyadh is one of the world’s fastest growing capitals and a thriving metropolis. Part of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision masterplan for its transformation includes a bid supported by the Royal Commission for the city of Riyadh to host the World Expo 2030 with a budget of €7.2 billion. World Expos are global events that aim to find solutions to challenges facing humanity and create a dynamic space to activate change.
Ibrahim bin Mohammed al-Sultan, Minister of State, Member of the Council of Ministers and Acting CEO of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, says Riyadh will put on an “unprecedented performance”.
“We are hoping that everyone will participate when we build this expo,” he told Focus. “Everyone will participate and they will show their values, their traditions and everything and share it with others.”
Major developments in infrastructure, education and arts
The capital of Saudi Arabia is home to more than 7.5 million residents and more than 40% of them are expatriates who are seeing major changes to the kingdom’s infrastructure from business to arts and education.
Downey House is Riyadh’s first British International School for Girls and has a pledge to inspire and motivate. Adele O’Doherty from the UK is the principal and told Focus that despite being a truly international school, the need to celebrate local culture is essential.
“It’s really important for our families, no matter how much they want Saudi Arabia to be part of the global stage, that their culture is recognized and the Arabic language lives on,” he said.
Riyadh’s arts and culture scene is booming. Riyadh Season is one of the world’s largest winter entertainment events covering art, music, theatre, food and sport. Additionally, MDLBeast Soundstorm is the largest music festival in the Middle East attracting over 200 international and national artists.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning theater production The Phantom of the Opera has recently opened in Riyadh, much to the delight of theater fans. Jasper Hope, advisor to the Royal Commission on Riyadh City, is part of the team that made this possible.
“I have been fortunate enough to be involved in this kind of context with many Expos over the last 20 or 30 years, and every time you see these fantastic developments in cities. In 2030, we will see exactly the same here,” he revealed.
“We’ll see many more people have the opportunity to come and visit the city, and we’ll see many more artists and productions and local productions begin to develop as a result,” Jasper said.
Saudi business ecosystem: ‘Everything can be done here and now’
The Riyadh Expo 2030 bid focuses on a core theme ‘The Era of Change: Together for a Visionary Tomorrow’ and will include one pavilion for each participating country under the ‘One Nation, One Pavilion’ commitment.
The Collaborative Change Corner (C3) will be an area dedicated to innovation and youth to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Local entrepreneur Mansoor Al Sanooni is the chairman and founder of Mansoor Al Sanooni Group. He credits the country’s leadership for establishing a support network for the entrepreneurial business ecosystem in Saudi.
“The inter-ministerial ecosystem in Saudi, it’s part of everything. You can also know every aspect of that cycle by finding investors, finding the right partners, getting involved in business and solving problems. Everything here and now. Can be done,” he explained.
stability at the center of speech
Saudi Expo 2030’s zero carbon initiative is at the heart of the bid and its ambitious goal is to achieve carbon neutrality and reduce carbon emissions. It is also developing sustainable transport infrastructure, promoting a circular economy model and promoting energy-efficient buildings.
The planned expo site will have an area of six million square meters and is expected to attract 40 million site visits. It will be a five-minute drive from the capital’s airport and connected to the city’s new metro system.
A range of new sustainable developments are being built at an unprecedented pace, including the Sports Boulevard – one of the world’s largest urban regeneration projects spanning more than 135 km in Riyadh. This linear park will provide athletic, cultural and entertainment experiences.
Additionally, supporting a sustainable lifestyle, King Salman Park is an urban development in the city center where 70% of the project represents green space. The park’s developers believe that Expo 2030 Riyadh will showcase opportunities within the Saudi ecosystem.
“If we are able to bring the World Expo here in 2030, all eyes will be on Riyadh and it will be a great opportunity to introduce this market to people who don’t know enough about it yet, but then They will get a great opportunity to come and join us,” said George Tanasijevich, CEO of the King Salman Park Foundation.
The host country of the World Expo 2030 will be chosen by the BIE (Bureau International des Expositions) member states at the 173rd General Assembly on 28 November 2023. Candidates include Italy (for Rome), Republic of Korea (for Busan) and Saudi Arabia. Arabia (for Riyadh).