The Riyadh Development Authority (RDA) approved a comprehensive plan to overhaul the capital city, keeping wide, open areas in the city center and building a ring road around them.
"The project will bring about a facelift of downtown Riyadh and make it an outstanding historic, administrative, economic and cultural center in the Kingdom," said Ibrahim Al-Sultan, a member of the RDA and head of its center for projects and planning.
He was speaking to reporters after an RDA meeting in Riyadh, which was chaired by Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar and attended by Deputy Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah.
Al-Sultan said the plan also includes development of housing projects in the city center and pedestrian pathways that would enhance the look of the city and make it more comfortable for citizens and residents.
"The central region will have three main railway lines and several bus routes," he said. It will also house the main railway station, which will be part of the city's public transport system.
"We'll create a new cultural, heritage and tourism route, beginning from the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center to the Government Palace (Qasr Al-Hukm)," the official said.
Saudis and expatriates in Riyadh have welcomed the plan to develop the city center, saying it would ease traffic and make it more environmentally friendly.
Al-Sultan said 3,088 development projects worth SR 278 billion ($74 billion) are being implemented in different parts of the Riyadh region.
Sixty-two agencies have been authorized to follow up on the implementation of these projects. These agencies will also generate proposals for the development of the region and ways to remove obstacles facing development. They will present regular progress reports to the governor.
The RDA meeting approved the rules and regulations for the development of Wadi Haneefa and surrounding valleys. The project aims to make use of the area as a tourist and amusement center while protecting its agricultural and heritage sites.
The meeting also reviewed the region's investment climate and highlighted its various investment opportunities, Al-Sultan said.
There was a visual presentation of the public transport system for Riyadh city, including two networks for trains and buses.
The meeting discussed RDA's preparations to implement the public transport project while reviewing its specifications, administrative and technical aspects and routes.
Four international consortia are competing to build a metro network in Riyadh. They include 33 companies from 15 countries.
The bidders for the project include Vinci and Alstom of France, Italy's Ansaldo, Canada's Bombardier, Germany's Siemens and Stadler Bussnang of Switzerland.
Six lines of electric rail, totaling 175 km, are planned across Riyadh to serve the airport and the King Abdullah Financial District currently under construction.
The RDA indicated that it might award the contract to more than one consortium considering the project's huge size.